top of page
  • Writer's pictureTzipporah Johnston

Notes on the Title, and a Bibliography

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

A note about the project title: ‘The Fruit of Her Hands’ comes from Proverbs 31, which describes the woman of valour (Hebrew: eishet chayil/ אשת חיל), the ideal Jewish woman. It’s sung every Friday night as both a metaphor for Shabbat, and as a hymn of praise to the female head of the family. The eishet chayil “seeks wool and flax, and works willingly with her hands” (31:13), “She girds her loins with strength, and makes strong her arms” (31:17), and “she stretches out her hand to the poor; yea, she reaches forth her hands to the needy” (31:20) – also a perfect description of the scrub-makers.

Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her works praise her in the gates (Proverbs 31:30-31)


For anyone interested in Jewish ritual textiles generally, or more specifically in where I’m getting my information from, I’ve compiled a bibliography. I’ve divided it into books, articles, and websites for ease of use. I’m trying to strike a balance between citing my sources and not making these blog posts unreadable for the casual viewer.

Bracha Yaniv’s book is the most important source for all my research, and is easily the best book about Jewish ritual textiles to have been published in English. If you are interested in this subject it is absolutely worth buying.

The more practical books on Jewish embroidery (e.g. Aber, Rockland Tupa) are interesting and worth reading, but they need to be treated with caution – there are no citations and some of the history reported as fact is really rather dubious.

As well as more specific works on ritual textiles, I have also included some more general books about Jewish prayer, art and visual language, as these have helped shape my design ideas.


Bracha Yaniv, Ceremonial Synagogue Textiles from Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Italian Communities, Littman and Liverpool University Press, London, 2019

Esther Juhasz ed., The Jewish Wardrobe: From the Collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Jerusalem: 5 Continents Editions Srl, 2012

Ita Aber, The Art of Judaic Needlework, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1979

Mae Rockland Tupa, The new work of our hands : contemporary Jewish needlework and quilts, Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Co., 1994

Aliza Lavie, ed., A Jewish Woman’s Prayerbook, New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2008

Kathryn Salomon, Jewish Ceremonial Embroidery, London: Batsford, 1989

Lillian Freehof and Bucky King, Embroideries and fabrics for synagogue and home: 5000 years of ornamental needlework, New York: Hearthside Press, 1966

Alfred Rubens, A History of Jewish Costume, London: Owen, 1973

Hana Volvakova, The Synagogue Treasures of Bohemia and Moravia, Prague: Sfinx, 1949

H.A. Meek, The Synagogue: The Complete History of the Art and Architecture of the Synagogue, London: Phaidon Press, 1995

Avram Kampf, Contemporary synagogue art : developments in the United States, 1945-1965, New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1966

Stephen S. Kayser ed., Jewish Ceremonial Art; a Guide to the Appreciation of the Art Objects Used in Synagogue and Home, Principally from the Collections of the Jewish Museum of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Philadelphia : Jewish Publication Society of America, 1955

David Davidovitch, The Ketuba: Jewish Marriage Contracts Through the Ages, New York: Adama Books, 1985

Eric Silverman, A Cultural History of Jewish Dress, London: Bloomsbury, 2013


Ariella Amar, 'The Visual Legacy of the Tunisian Jews, Vol. 2 Ritual Objects', The Jerusalem Index of Jewish Art, The Center for Jewish Art, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, January, 2012

Bracha Yaniv, ‘Ceremonial Textiles for the Synagogue’, in Treasures of Jewish Galicia (ed. S. Harel-Hoshen), Tel-Aviv 1996, pp. 101-114

Bracha Yaniv, ‘Golden Threads in Weaving, Embroidery and Lacework’, in Shimmering Gold: The Splendor of Gold Embroidered Textiles, Tel-Aviv 2007, pp. 9-13

Bracha Yaniv, ‘From Spain to the Balkans: The History of Textile Torah Scroll Accessories in the Sephardi Communities of the Balkans’, Sefarad, 66/2 (July-December 2006), pp. 405-442

Shalom Sabar, ‘From Sacred Symbol to Key Ring: The Hamsa in Jewish and Israeli Societies,’ in Simon J. Bronner, ed., Jews at Home: The Domestication of Identity, Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2010, pp.140-162

Tali Berner, 'Children and Rituals in Early Modern Ashkenaz', The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, January 2014, 7(1):65-86

Gabriel Goldstein, "Moses, Little Red Riding Hood and the Furniture Store: Wimpels (Torah Binders) in

the Yeshiva University Museum Collection" (1998). Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings.



‘Women and the Torah’, Chavie Lieber, in Printed_Matter: Centro Primo Levi Online Monthly. Published July 18, 2016, retrieved April 20 2020.

‘WARP and WEFT: Women as Custodians of Jewish Heritage in Italy’; guest post by Anastazja Buttitta, Curator, the U. Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art, Jerusalem, on Art, retrieved August 4, 2020

'The Rise of the Wimpel', Rachel Geizhals, in Forward, June 2, 2010, retrieved on August 16 2020

48 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page