Amud Cover - Artist's Statement

by Lisa Glass

The Amud is a table for leading services and reading Torah. The Amud cover is made of raw silk in keeping with the feel of the traditional tallis covering. The texture allows for a loud banging sound that is important at various times in a service. Hadar is a community where people of various backgrounds are all made to feel welcome. To visually represent this value, I chose multiple color applique to represent our different perspectives, reminiscent of the gay pride flag, which symbolizes diversity and inclusiveness.

Halacha is of paramount importance at Hadar. I had one halachic question when creating the Amud cover: Is it acceptable to sew silk fabric with cotton thread or would this violate shatnez? Shatnez is the prohibition of mixing wool and linen in clothing (Lev. 19:19 and Deut. 22:11). It does not apply to other fibers and it only applies to things that are worn as clothes.

I had many technical questions making this: How much larger than the table should the cover be? How should I finish the inside so it looks ok when the front flaps are raised? Is there a way that I can machine-stitch the applique or should I do it by hand? The measurements didn't turn out as I expected them to- what the heck do I do now?!

Answers to the technical questions were provided by my grandparents, Norman Davis and Shirley Broh Davis, whose partnership began in the 60's running a decorating shop. Creating this cover gave me the opportunity to ask questions and received many pearls of wisdom. "I was reading Reader's Digest- that's the poor man's medical journal- and they recommended fabric glue," I was told one day, and taught about invisible thread on another. "That's one of the great things about getting old, is that you get to pass these wonderful things on," my grandfather summarized. In one conversation I shared that I was stressed because there was something I really wanted and I didn't know if it would happen or not. My grandfather replied: "If it happens, that's great; if it doesn't happen, that's great. Good news is hard to find; people manufacture bad news in search of good news." I was asked if my grandfather often says such things, and I wondered if I give him enough opportunities to do so. Asking questions unlocks great things. My grandmother, in turn, asked if I were eating well and told me that if she were nearby she would come and cook for me.

The Amud cover is a gift from Shai Held, who had these words to say, "The Amud Cover is dedicated in memory of my father, Moshe Held z"l, for whom teaching Tanakh was both a vocation and a life's love, and of my dear friend Willy Iancu, z"l, who cared for me after my father's death as if I were his own son. From each of them I learned about the meaning of Torah and of kindness, and I dedicate this as a small token of vast love and admiration."

The Amud was created by Josh Greenfield's grandfather, Joseph Greenfield, who passed away last month and whose sheloshim is coming up this Wednesday. Josh wrote of his grandfather: "Creating and giving away all these items gave him the greatest pleasure - no sooner had he decided you were in need of something than he rushed to his garage workshop to sketch it and begin working on it." It is a wonderful tribute to the memory of Shai and Josh'es loved ones that the creation of the cover created memories with two people who are so beloved to me. I share Grandpa Joe's joy in creating and thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity.