Rites of Passage

In Judaism, life is considered the highest good, and we are obliged to cherish it as well as preserve it. Upon the birth of a new baby we make plans for all of the steps of the Jewish life cycle when we say the prayer that this child should: “...enter into study, be led to the chuppah (marriage canopy), and practice  good deeds”.

All of the rites of passage have prescribed procedures, laws and traditions because each stage of life brings a new significance to the growth of this individual and a new sense of thankfulness to our creator. At these ceremonies we celebrate not only in joy with “L'chaim” (“to Life”) but we also say the poignant “Shehkeaynu” prayer with the words “...grateful to reach this happy occasion”.   Elsa Wachs creates heirloom pieces to enhance and pay honor to these events.


Prayer Shawls


Wedding Ketubot


Wedding Canopies - Chuppot


Tallit:  Hear, O Israel

Tallit: Hear, O Israel

This one-of-a-kind tallit honors the 50th Anniversary of the State of Israel.  The photography belies the coloring (new photo to come). The white silk prayer shawl has an attarah of antique silver lace circa 1920’s ‘30’s.  The inside of the Tallit has images of ancient maps Palestine.

white silk, pleated, fabric manipulation, thermography, antique adornment

24”x 84” NFS In private collection. Inquiries Welcome

Tallit: Jerusalem of Gold

The owner of this Tallit was born of the sixth day of the Six Day War, June 1967, when Jerusalem became a united city. To commemorate the Bar Mitzvah of this event as well as that of thirteen year old boy a golden raw silk fabric was chosen. The style of the appliqued letters suggests the crenelated wall of Jerusalem which spell out the bar mitzvah’s name.

The design on the bag that accompanies this prayer shawl is that of a menorah (the construction of which is explained in his Torah portion) and the words “Sing and Rejoice: are the fist two words of this

Haftorah, words that aptly describe this happy and joyful lad.

NFS, In private collection
Elsa takes orders for custom-made and personalized designs Tallitot with a thematic approach.

Tallit:  Jerusalem of Gold
Detail of Lace Attarah

Detail of Lace Attarah

The Bat Mitzvah who owns this tallit chose vintage Irish lace, circa1920, for her attarah and other appropriate places on the tallit. The young girl’s Hebrew name is embroidered on carnation pink ribbon.

NFS In private collection
Elsa takes orders for custom-made and personalized Tallitot

Celebration Wimple

The wimple is a folk tradition from Germany dating back to Talmudic times. The cloth upon which an infant was resting during the circumcision was cut into long pieces and resewn to form a Torah binder. The cloth was elaborately decorated to include the baby’s name and date of birth. It was presented to
 the synagogue and used to wrap the Torah
 on the occasion of the baby’s first visit to the

This is a detail of a Celebration Wimple made
 to honor the birth of the artists first grandchild
 in 1990. A 17th century wimple design was
 the inspiration for this Torah wrap.

Celebration Wimple

linen, hand-dyed silk, antique beads, embroidery
NFS - in private collection.

Commemorative Tallit Bag

The parents of this bar mitzvah boy wanted their son's tallit to be carefully wrapped and treasured when not being worn. They combed their home family memorabilia and asked relatives to contribute momentos for the project. The result is this commemorative envelope which is a true family heirloom to be enjoyed and valued for years to come.



Inside Front


The Jewish marriage ceremony, of course part of the lifecyle, is rich in colorful pageantry. The performance of a wedding includes the use of a ring, a chuppah (canopy), the breaking of a glass, reading of the signed ketubah (marriage contract), and the recital of the seven benedictions. It incorporates many different customs that serve to solemnize the occasion as well as gladden the hearts of the bridal couple; all in attendance sing and dance with joy.

Ketubah: Starry Night Lilies

The unusual frame for this ketubah is dyed silk embroidered with elegant white sculptured coronet shaped blossoms that peek over the ancient Aramaic text that is set onto hand made paper. The deep indigo sky is peppered with french knot stars sending the biblical blessing for the Jewish people, “.....your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven....” 

NFS, In private collection

Ketubah:  Starry Night Lilies
Ketubah:  Sweet Rambling Vine

Ketubah: Sweet Rambling Vine

This bridal couple chose a vintage linen cloth circa 1940 for their marriage contract. Because it is created in an innovative manner it still retains all the traditional elements and feeling. The text and decorative design work are hand painted directly onto the beautiful pristine linen adorned with fagoting and hardanger work.

NFS, In private collection


I am my beloved’s

This wall hanging doubles as a hand-held chuppah. The Hebrew verse Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li, is from the biblical Song of Songs and reads “ I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine”. The letters are made up of dyed silk and outlined in pearls setting off a bridal tone. The white linen textured background has the added interest of lyrical quilting lines. Sumptuous tassels of mauve pinks and purple hang on each of the four corners.

Ani L'Dodi V' Dodi Li

For Purchase



The design for this chuppah was inspired by an elaborately encrusted floral 17th century Ketubbah. The maker of the Ketubbah (the wedding contract) has a fragment of the experience of participating in the cosmic wedding that occurred at Mt. Sinai between G-d and Israel, and Moses being the Ketubbah scribe. Every earthly wedding is a commemoration of that even. Each panel has 32 flowers. In Gematria the Hebrew word “lav” which means “heart” has the numerical equivalent of 32. In Ashkenazi tradition the bride give a tallit to her beloved because the tzitzit (the knotted strands in the corner of the tallit) : there are 8 strands in the 4 corners symbolizing the giving of the heart. The birds are a symbol of peace, tranquillity and fertility- concepts which are always in our prayers for the bride and groom. Gold for the letters and borders are specially chosen to denote the holiness of matrimony.

Courtesy of Beth Hillel-Beth El Synagogue, Wynnewood, PA Needlepoint by the Sisterhood Women.
NFS- commissions, prices on request
Chuppah Frame priced separately

Ivory Velvet Chuppah

This ivory velvet synagogue chuppah is appliqued with white satin flowers. Some of the Hebrew letters are appliqued in regal gold
tissue lame with all the design elements embroidered in lurex threads.

NFS Congregation Etz Chaim, Marietta GA
commissions taken
Chuppah Frame priced separately

Ivory Velvet Chuppah
Detail of Chuppah

Detail: Floral and letter applique and stitchery

Detail:  The letters in the circular pattern spell out the phrase “...voice of joy and voice of gladness...” from the Seven Blessings traditionally chanted at the wedding.

Family Chuppah

Detail of ChuppahBraman Family Chuppah

This wedding canopy is an example of the chuppot Elsa creates to become a family heirloom. This chuppah is made up of a collage of special stitching depicting events, names and dates, family memorabilia, and photographs, i.e. things that have meaning to the family as well as the bridal couple. It is an umbrella of ancestry, memories and hope for the future.

silks, velvet, antique lace circa 1890, applique, quilting,  memorabilia,thermography
6’x 6’x12”
NFS, In private collection
commissions taken, prices on request
Chuppah Frame priced separately

Chuppah Bell Pulls.
These adornments for the front of a family chuppah (wedding canopy) reflect the heritage and interests of the family.

Silk-screened images and hand painted.
NFS in private collection

Left and Above:  Detail of bottom and top

Commemorative Chuppah Panel

This art piece wall hanging is a memory bank replete with a family album of photos. Encrusted with memorabilia from W.W II, grandmother’s wedding shoes from 1948, invitations, birth certificates and much more give poignant texture to this families memories.


Steven’s 40th Birthday Book
Memories, Memories, Memories: that’s what this soft book is all about. From the tie book mark to the trinkets, greeting cards, champagne cork, etc... This gift not only marked Steven’s birthday but showed the texture of a life well lived but busting with many more years to come.

Front Cover

copyright 1998 - 2002 Elsa Wachs