It was just a year ago that former Atlantan Evan Zisholtz and his wife, Diana, and children visited Atlanta for Sukkot, and he saw the huge, decorated tallis made for Young Israel of Toco Hills.
All the children in the shul were blessed under it on Simchat Torah.
Zisholtz got the idea that he wanted one for his own synagogue in Englewood, N.J., Congregation Ahavath Torah. But it would have to be twice as big because his shul has over 800 children.
And so it happened this spring that he contacted Atlanta fabric artist Barbara Ladin Fisher, who had decorated the one at Young Israel. Janet Afrah, the owner of the Judaica Corner in Toco Hills, ordered two oversize tallises so that the finished product would be 13 by 24 feet.
Fisher, who works primarily in ultrasuede, made the decision to use lighter-weight fabrics because the heaviness of the finished project was a concern. She chose lightweight cottons that are used by quilters.
She shopped for fabrics in a variety of cheerful, harmonious colors and began the work in her home studio on Arborvista Drive.
Weeks later, as the project grew too large for her studio, she moved the project to the family’s playroom, where she began to use the ping-pong table as her base.
It took several weeks to sew on the colorful, 12-inch border, which is over 73 linear feet.
Sadly, Zisholtz’s devoted mother, Vivian, did not live to see the finished product. Soon after her death in August, her son decided to dedicate the tallis in her memory.
Evan Zisholtz’s father, Barry, will bring the tallis to New York, where the entire Zisholtz family was set to see it for the first time during their celebration of Simchat Torah together this week.
The children of the congregation are due to be blessed under this vibrant tallis during the Blessing of the Children on Friday, Oct. 13, Simchat Torah morning.