Beautifully Jewish is a celebration of the objects that enrich our Jewish lives. Hosted by Stephanie Butnick and Tanya Singer, this monthly audio series explores Jewish material culture, the ritual objects that inspire us—from Shabbat candlesticks to menorahs, challah covers, mezuzahs, and more—and the people who make them. We’ll also get hands on, helping listeners create new Jewish things to connect with.
Beautifully Jewish is produced by the Unorthodox podcast team and airs on the Unorthodox feed. Share your favorite Beautifully Jewish things in the Unorthodox Facebook group, via email at [email protected], or on social media using the hashtag #beautifullyjewish.
Join our Beautifully Jewish Craft-Along for Israel here.
-Stephanie and Tanya
Beautifully Jewish Craft Along
When so much of the world is plunged into darkness, and when so much has been taken away from us, there is little we can do but make something new, something beautiful, something Jewish.
Over the next six weeks, we will meet virtually to craft in support of children being treated in Israel’s hospitals and to support the brave men and women of the Israeli Defense Forces. We will communicate via email and invite you to join us. Click here for more information.
A Special Thanksgiving Episode
Today Stephanie and Tanya celebrate an unexpectedly significant object: the folding chair.
You’ll also get an update on the Beautifully Jewish craft-along for Israel and hear from Israeli knitwear designer Inbal Gross, who just days before the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks had organized Israel’s first fiber festival.
Celebrating Sukkot in Style
For Sukkot, we’re celebrating the sukkah as the perfect canvas: a deeply Jewish space calling out for personalization through crafting or art. Despite their temporary nature, these structures can become universes unto themselves, keepers of meaning, memory, and history well beyond just one week.
This segment features Rabbi Adam Baldachin of Shaarei Tikvah, artist Yaeli Vogel (get 10% off using that special link), and Rebecca Frank of the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
What Tanya’s Making:
Do you love the modern needlepoints made by designer Jonathan Adler? Don’t you wish all of your Judaica felt as fresh and fun? Same here. That’s why this year, I’m working to finish a very hip box to hold my etrog.
Years ago, my friend Faye showed me her collection of handmade Judaica including everything from tallis bags to challah boards. When she shared this 3-D needlepoint box, my jaw dropped:
While I admired Faye’s work, I didn’t see myself having the skill or patience to tackle this. Years later, I’m ready to try!
Embroidery and needlepoint sound pretty complicated and make me think of threading tiny needles under a magnifying glass. Yikes! That’s where bargello comes in to save the day—and my eyes! Yes, the craft can be done with the aforementioned tools, but thanks to companies like Hello, Bargello and Bargello-a-GoGo, I’ve learned to enjoy transforming heavy plastic grids into all sorts of fun things, like a Hanukkah wall hanging, a sunglass case, and even a super mod black-and-white purse I use on special occasions. These companies are awesome and make bargello accessible. That and inspiration from my friend Faye got me going on this WIP (work in progress).
I’ve completed the top and bottom. Next I’ll stitch the four deep side panels and the final not-so-deep panels for the lid.
It’s fun and not too daunting. Here’s how to get started:
- Learn the basics: Purchase an easy kit and/or get started with this free video from Love Crafts.
- Choose your canvas: I ordered these 10-count plastic sheets and the Jewel Tones yarn set from Hello Bargello.
- Get boxed in! Have a look at this video to learn how to assemble a box. You should watch this before you start stitching.
- Measure twice, cut once: I used Faye’s dimensions for the top which is 4 ½” x 7”. I cut the bottom panel just one grid line over on all four sides to make it just a touch wider.
- Choose your own adventure: Design your own panels or purchase a pattern from any of the resources mentioned above, and,
- Share your Beautifully Jewish bargello by emailing us at [email protected], posting in the Unorthodox Facebook group, or on social media using the hashtag #beautifullyjewish.
We can’t wait to see what you make next!
Starting At the Very Beginning
We started our journey at the very beginning: Gabriel Goldstein, interim director and chief curator at Yeshiva University Museum, helped us understand the deep connection between Jews and things, tracing it all the way back to the creation of the Mishkan, in Exodus. Fiber artist Heather Stoltz shows us the High Holiday Torah covers she made for her synagogue, Temple Israel Center of White Plains. And Tanya teaches Stephanie to knit, helping her on her journey to explore the many ways in which Judaism celebrates beauty and craft.
Tablet Studios is the premier destination for smart and entertaining Jewish audio content. Our podcasts include Unorthodox, What Really Matters, Take One, and the limited-run series Gatecrashers, Adventures with Dead Jews, Radioactive: The Father Coughlin Story, The Franchise, Hebrew School, and 49 Days to Stretch My Soul.