Tradition & Innovation
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Women's Tefillin

By Ayana Friedman

Artist's Words

I wanted to create a ritual object that would be different from men's, made of synthetic fabric, not dead animal's skin, and would elevate women's craft and abilities which have been pushed aside throughout history.

I have designed a Tefillin for women, which displays a new concept, not only by its oval form, but also by adding a special prayer for women. The prayer written by Einat Ramon is designed to remind women of their abilities, talents and inner strength to fulfill their potential. This prayer is placed in the Tefillin box beside the traditional prayers.

I share the creation process with a fashion designer I have "adopted", (she was a battered woman). We plan each set as a unique art piece, with different beads and gold thread for each one.

All of my artwork deals with women's issues like aguna, a woman who is refused a divorce by her husband and thus unable to remarry, firstborn male children who are more celebrated than girls, and brit milah, circumcision, which is only for boys. I created a special throne for the naming of newborn girls. I also created two large paintings of Hannah and Eve.

A Meditation Prior to Putting on the Tefillin for Women

It is my intention to unify the circles of my being
My soul
The wisdom of my heart
My deeds
My household
My Torah
My tree of life
The universe in its entirety

A Blessing/Prayer While Putting on the Tefillin for Women

May my strength and the power of my heart be drawn from
the wellsprings of my
May the sacred fill the earth
From the image of God within me.

A Blessing While Wrapping the Straps around the Finger

"Set me as a seal upon the heart, as a seal upon the arm." (Song of Songs 8:6)

Ritual Component