My family and I belong to a wonderful synagogue called Achva. (Achva is a Hebrew word which means friendship, brotherhood and unity.) Truth be told, my husband is the regular synagogue-goer. I prefer to spend the occasional Shabbat morning in my pyjamas and not rush out of the house, but I am very fond of the people in our synagogue community and we have made some good friends there. One of these friends, Michal, recently stepped down from her position as synagogue "chairperson". I use the inverted commas because she was never comfortable with that title, even though that's what she was! I digress. The members of the synagogue wanted to present her with a special gift at a recent get-together, as a way of thanking her for all her hard work over the years, and I was approached with a request to create a papercut with a particular pasuk, or verse, on it.
The verse requested was "אהבה ואחווה ושלום ורעות", "Love and brotherhood and peace and companionship." This verse, or blessing, comes from the Sheva Brachot, "the Seven Blessings". The wedding blessings in Jewish law are blessings that are recited for a bride and groom under the chuppah, the canopy beneath which Jewish marriage ceremonies are performed. This blessing is part of the seventh blessing and wishes the bride and groom a life of perfect happiness.
Those of you who read Hebrew will notice that the word אחווה, or Achva, the name of our synagogue, appears in this verse. In fact I made it a little bigger than the rest of the lettering to make it stand out. In addition, Michal is a landscape gardener by profession, so I embellished the piece with flowers to symbolise her work, and pomegranates, a fruit valued in Jewish culture. (Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol of righteousness because it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah.) My signature little bird made it on to the papercut too.
Michal seemed delighted with the gift and I was thrilled to see it in pride of place on her lounge wall when we visited her home recently.
This papercut would make a great wedding, anniversary or birthday gift. It is cut entirely by hand from a single sheet of white watercolour paper and is 16x25cm in size. If you would like to order one, unframed, please click here.