I was invited to a fascinating creative workshop by Miriam Darmoni Sharbit, director of the civic education and joint living unit of the Technological Education Center. Miriam, a good friend and active in promoting joint living. She invited a number of persons, including me, to her home to participate in a workshop on Palestinian embroidery. The purpose of this workshop was to familiarize the participants with the cultural background to Palestinian embroidery, presented by women from the West Bank, with an introduction by Bushra Abu Aiyish on the cultural heritage of this art. The highlight of this event was the experience of embroidering in a group. I joined in, together with my daughter who had expressed interest in this art. The first feeling of strangeness quickly passed; we sat in a circle introducing ourselves in Hebrew and Arabic.

 (Credit for the photographs: Miriam Darmoni Sharbit, Boas Amit, Katya Ben Yakov and my pictures too)

A professional translator spoke in both languages so that each one of us was able to express herself freely. I soon learned that the workshop was the outcome of several meetings of the “Circle of Bereaved Parents”. As we travelled to the city of Ranana, we heard stories of Palestinian mothers who at first did not want to have contact with Israelis until they met bereaved Israeli Jewish mothers with whom they felt affinity, eventually enabling them to participate in joint activities. Among the Jewish women in the group there were those who stated that this was the first time they had met Palestinian women. The art of embroidery was the factor that brought these women of different cultures together through needle and cloth.

Each Palestinian village has its own specific needlework and it was only when we were given explanations about the works we were shown were we able to state where they came from. Women embroidered in their homes and when a daughter married her dowry included the results of her mother’s fine needlework. The Palestinian women brought examples of their spectacular embroidery.

Finally we all sat down to work on the designs prepared by Judith Dessons and others, chatting all the time.

As I worked I recalled stories my mother, born in the Ukraine, told us about mothers and daughters working in unison. My mother still kept blouses exquisitely embroidered which have been hung on the walls of our home. Many of this type were embroidered on Rumania, the Ukraine and Russia, showing that traditions cross borders.

Here are some examples of the needlework of my mother and her mother before her (my grandmother) showing that traditions still have similarities appreciated to this day.

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