Sacred Laundry: Washing the Tallitot

We have all been there; having a job that you never seem to get around to doing. For a while, one of mine has been washing the DJC’s tallitot, and with time to spare now, I decided to start.

I realized they would need to be done by hand as the tzitzit (fringes) would get badly tangled in a washing machine. I filled a container with warm, soapy water and started to wash the tallitot one by one. Swirling them through the water again and again, then rinsing and finally, gently squeezing out as much water as possible. I then rolled them into a towel to remove more water before hanging to air dry.

Once they were hung, I started to smooth out the fabric with my hands straightening out the tzitzi’yot (plural of tzitzit) and untangling some of the threads. What had started out as a task, something that just needed to be done, had changed and had become an act of hiddur mitzvah – beautifying a mitzvah; something special and beautiful that touched me deeply.

As I worked, I thought of all the people who had picked up this tallit at a service and wrapped it around their shoulders, maybe kissing the tzitzit beforehand. Had it made them feel comforted, more present? I saw in my mind the groups of people on the bima holding the tallit draped around backs and shoulders and sometimes over heads, bringing everyone in together as they made their intentions. In those moments, there was such a strong feeling of community, of belonging. I began to imagine and long for when we can do that again.

I wanted to let our community know that the tallitot have been lovingly washed, ironed and carefully folded and are waiting for you, when the time is right again for us to gather and celebrate.

Anne Shaddick, DJC Services Manager

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