Neshamah / Eretz Tallit
About Harriet Goren
I’m a graphic designer with a love of typography and letterforms. Growing up as an Orthodox Jewish girl, many traditonally male rituals around prayer were not available to me. As my religious practice grew more liberal and egalitarian over time, I was not able to find ritual items that were meaningful to me as woman and visual artist—so I decided to create my own. I learned how to chant Torah, as well, and soon discovered that each Torah scroll had a slightly different and quirky personality based on the handwriting of its sofer, its scribe. The designer part of me looked forward to seeing the shapes and rhythms of those words week after week. They became my inspiration to design tallitot, prints, and challah covers that combine Hebrew letters and color with my own interpretations of what it feels like to pray and sing. The resulting art, created with digital paint and fabric, is not always legible, or meant to be read literally, but rather tries to capture through shape and gesture how I experience some of my favorite Hebrew texts.
About Neshamah / Eretz Tallit
This design is one in a series I created to explore each of the four elements that traditionally comprise all that exists: air, water, fire, and, in this design, earth. In place of traditional blue stripes that wrap around our shoulders, leaves and branches cascade down the sides of this tallit. The Hebrew words “Neshamah / Eretz” (“Soul / Earth) intertwine on the back. I created this tallit to serve as a reminder during prayer that doing whatever we can to sustain the creations of God in nature is a fitting expression of gratitude for God’s gift to each of us of our lives and souls. I hope this talit will help all who wear experience it the values of the Shmita year: a renewed focus on how our actions affect the land, and a reminder, in the comfort of its embrace, to let the earth rest so it may again grow to its full potential.