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Youngsters learn of Jewish heritage
The Oregonian, March 19, 1993

by: Watford Reed

The Portland Jewish Academy makes National Jewish Art Week an educational event The Jewish heritage became more vivid in the minds of youngsters at the Portland Jewish Academy Wednesday.

From the wool to the finished cloth, from basic to finished handi-work, Jewish art was explained as the school observed National Jewish Art Week.

"Look for things in your home that make it a Jewish home," said Sara Harwin, Northwest regional re-presentative of the sponsoring Ame-rican Guild of Judaic Art.

"Maybe candlestick holders that your grandmother made are old and wobbly. But they may have a special story. They may remind you of your heritage.

"When you see something, ask your parents where it came from and why it is special. Some day you will tell others about it."

While two groups of about 45 chil-dren each sat on the floor to watch, Harwin explained, "There is so much in our Jewish heritage that enriches our lives. These things beautify our homes and our lives. We share them with others."

She called on the children also to learn the stories that go with cere-monial art so that they can hand the stories on to others.

Paula Stewart, a Portland weaver, gave the children a hand full of wool, then showed how it becomes yarn, thread and eventually tapes-try, shawl or other handwork.

She reminded the children that a craftsman needs to use mathematics, too. When she weaves a shawl, she has 24 threads to an inch for some and 30 for others, she ex-plained, and there may be as many' as 54 to an inch in other kinds of cloth.

Tassels at the corners of a ceremo-nial shawl used in a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah - ceremonies showing that a boy or girl has begun the jour-ney to becoming an adult - are used to touch the lines of holy writ that the teen-ager reads, she said. They "show that God is everyw-here," she explained.

Stewart also explained that craft-smen must abide by such religious rules as not using woolen and linen threads together, for instance.

The demonstration was the second in a series of four at the school at 6651 S.W. Capitol Highway, which enrolls children from kindergarten through the sixth grade. Ceramics, calligraphy and other ritual items will be shown Thursday and Friday.

Harwin said she hopes the chil-dren will undertake artistic handi-work in their own lives.

Most of her work involves "help-ing them realize that we have to seize the moment while we can make things happen in our lives," she said.

"The time may come when we can't," she said in a somber mood. "Then we'll have only memories."

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