A new healing tapestry provides a tangible dimension to prayer at Congregation Beth Shalom of Brandon.
In 2009, when Milton and Phyllis Newman of Riverview joined Beth Shalom, she organized the Yarn Mavens, a group of women crafters. They began creating a Mi Shebeirach (healing prayer) tapestry to be used in services.
Congregants made 48 quilt squares commemorating important faith and family memories such as an escape from Eastern Europe, camaraderie among friends, Passover Seders, and apples and honey symbolizing hope for a brighter future.
Recently Zsa Lobel of Congregation Beth Shalom sewed the nine-inch by nine-inch squares to a backing and rolled the finished product into a scroll.
Member David Friedman built a wooden cabinet in which to showcase it.
"It took a long time to put it together," he said. "They wanted to be able to see nine squares at a time, and the rabbi [Betsy Torop] wanted the tapestry to be easily removable."
During healing services, Torop wraps it around those who are hurting and in need of prayer.
It is also available for happy occasions like weddings, bat and bar mitzvahs and anniversary celebrations.
Phyllis Newman envisioned the creation of this tapestry here after completing one in 2000 at Temple Emanuel, Tempe, Ariz., that was featured in a documentary about singer-songwriter Debbie Friedman, now deceased, and her song, "Mi Shebeirach."
"Phyllis is pleased with the end result," said her husband; "however, she and Zsa are not finished with the [Beth Shalom] tapestry. They are collecting more squares which they are planning to add. The goal is to get all members of Congregation Beth Shalom into this project, which they can use for wrapping all those in need of healing."