Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beautiful voice, beautiful tallit.

Tucked away in a quiet Marlboro neighborhood is a new but growing business.
In this quiet neighborhood, Cantor Avima Darnov sits at her loom, weaving beautiful tallitot (prayer shawls), atarot, and tallit bags from cotton, merino wool, silk, or bamboo. She knits beautiful head-coverings and kippot. Name the color, material, and pattern, and Darnov will bring your religious item to life, intensifying your religious experience.
"This all started as just a hobby," Darnov said. "I started weaving in high school; my mother taught me how. She bought a big loom that she knew I would use someday when I had the space to put it. When I moved to Marlboro three years ago to take a job as cantor for Marlboro Jewish Center, I finally had room to put the loom in my home. We took apart the loom from my mother's house and set it up in my house. I got rid of my smaller looms to make room for the big loom. I wove a tallit for myself and one for my husband (Rabbi Allan Darnov of the Reform Temple of Putnam Valley). About a year and a half ago, I made one for a friend who does very nice graphic designs. It was time for my son's bar mitzvah, and I asked her to design the invitations. In return, I made her son a tallit for his bar mitzvah."
Although she was making tallitot for others, Darnov still regarded weaving as only a hobby until she began to re-evaluate her place in the cantorate. She decided to temporarily leave the full-time cantorate, but she still has High Holy Days pulpit and runs a business called "The Hebrew Corner," a Hebrew-speaking classes for adults.
Then, an eerie coincidence convinced Darnov to pursue the "road not taken."
During the week of her father's first yahrtzeit in January of 2006, she heard two different sermons from two different rabbis. Both focused on the story of Moses and the burning bush. However, both rabbis discussed an unusual aspect of the story: how incredible it was that Moses took the time to notice that the bush was not being consumed. The following week, Darnov was researching weaving schools and she found one called "Fire Watch."
The home page read: "Why are we called Fire Watch? Creativity is the fire that burns, yet does not consume. It animates and transforms not only the artist, but the world who receives the creation. We believe that everyone possesses that spark and it is our purpose to seek it out and turn it into flame."
But the coincidence deepened. The home page continued to read: "There is a Rabbinic commentary which says that the real miracle in the story of the burning bush was not that the bush burned without being consumed, but that Moses turned aside to see that it was not being consumed. We challenge for you to turn aside from the path and give your creative heart a chance."
This was the flame that ignited in Darnov and motivated her to further proceed her weaving.
"What were the chances that I'd run into this Website? It motivated me to listen to that small voice from within," Darnov said. "It motivated me to seriously consider weaving tallitot professionally."
Darnov has an intense love and passion for weaving.
"I'm going back to the road I didn't take 20 years ago," Darnov continued. "It really helps my spirituality. I think about being more patient when I weave, for the threads often get tangled in the loom. It's difficult, but it's a good time to test patience. I'm still learning, but I'm 'watching the fire.'"
As a result, The Tallit Corner was born.
"I'm just starting the business," Darnov said. "I was a vendor at a Monmouth County fair. I got such positive feedback that it really helped build my confidence in my business. I got some active interest in The Tallit Corner from that one fair. I went to another conference out west, where I received great response to my work."
Currently, Darnov is seeking fairs and conventions where she can display her goods. She's especially looking forward to the Cantor's Assembly Convention to sell her creations to her colleagues. She hopes to sell custom-made and off the rack tallitot, atarot, tallit bags, and kippot. Darnov also hopes to launch a Website in the near future.
Darnov said she also wants to bring tallit and tzitzit classes to middle school-aged children in Hebrew schools and day camps. Bar and bat mitzvah students can design and help make their own tallitot with Darnov and her gentle guiding hand.
Tallitot start at $250, for cotton. Merino wool, silk, and bamboo are more expensive, but still competitively priced at $350 to $400. A percentage of the proceeds are donated to "City Of Hope," a research hospital in California for catastrophic disease.
"I love being a cantor, but the politics got in the way of my spirituality," Darnov concluded. "I love doing a job that is repairing my spirituality and Jewishness. It has such a calming effect."
From the Jewish State.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I will send it on.