Berit Engen WEFT and D'RASH – A Thousand Jewish Tapestries
 Inspired by Shir haShirim: Colors of Spring With Red for Love

The scroll’s beautiful descriptions of love and attraction are interpreted with the help of stories. The ones I chose take place in the end of the 19th and in the tumultuous 20th century on three different continents. The romances give us glimpses of the Jewish experience distant in place and time from the setting of Song of Songs. Except for one tapestry, the series is inspired by real-life couples.

(4/-- tapestries)

– Inspired by M'gillat Rut: The Beauty of Biblical Minimalism

Short, to the point, and beautiful – the book describes the complexities of social organizing, referring to legal practices through the emotional story line. It recounts universal themes like famine, migration, and vulnerabilities of women and the stranger. Specifically, it records what Ruth, the Moabite, is best known for: kindness to her mother-in-law and choosing Judaism.
I have tried to capture the story in three colors only (two of them with a darker version): bluish pink, greenish yellow, and steel grey. For the most part the colors themselves do not have symbolic meaning.
Intentionally, all but one tapestry have only one background color, and just one tapestry does not have the single, two-colored shape – my chosen expression in this series for fusing text and visual midrash.

(14/15 tapestries)

– Inspired by Eikhah: Sounds of Wailing and a Glimpse of Return

Ice-blue is a lonely color, the dark hues denote destruction and despair, and the willow foreshadows sitting exiled by the rivers of Babylon. The green is a reminder of the quiet cycle of day and night in spite of historic turmoil. Our distant past shines in a recorded memory and illuminates a future whose outcome relies on a plea to God fulfilled and a promise kept by us.

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– Inspired by Kohelet: Life and Loss in Hues of Green

The series is based on the famous chapter 3, verses 1-8, which states that there is a time for everything, including birth and death. These words are soothing when we are in mourning. Hidden in the tapestries is a story of dying early in life, reflecting Kohelet’s cynical sentiment of hopelessness. There might be a time to die, but some die too soon. We can do nothing to influence natural or manmade conditions. 

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–  Inspired by M'gillat Ester: Drama in Divergent Lines

The personalities of the queens, the uncle, the king, and the villain are expressed in theatrical lines against background curtains with subtle nuances.

(5/5 tapestries)

 – Chant Five and Sefer Yonah!

I enjoy the cyclical chanting of the scrolls in synagogues on Passover, Shavuot, Tisha b’Av, Sukkot, and Purim. In addition, the Book of Jonah (Prophets) is chanted on Yom Kippur. The melodies fit the sentiments of the respective holy days. Hiddur mitzvah, the concept of beautifying the commandments, here through musical notes and the very basic instrument of the voice, add a profound dimension to the reading and help with the intuitive understanding of the texts.

(6/6 tapestries)
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