On March 9, 2019, I was taken by a vivid dream. A client wanted the Priestly Blessing inscribed and concealed inside a plain silver cuff for his daughter. When I awoke, “A Sabbath Prayer” from Fiddler on the Roof was ringing in my ears. I couldn’t fall back asleep.
I am descended from the “Kohainim” and could administer the Priestly Blessing. I decided to research it while in bed.
May the Source bless you and protect you!
May the Source deal kindly and graciously with you!
May the Source bestow favor upon you and grant you peace!
As I reread it, I felt the power of this prayer. I felt my client wanting G-d to bless his daughter. Who wouldn’t want to be blessed in this way? I noted the associated hand gestures. They make the shape of the letter, Shin, symbolizing Shaddai—the nurturing aspect of G-d. This was an important artistic idea for me to explore.
The next day, I mulled how to transfer the lettering onto the metal. I wondered too whether this was what my client might want, or whether the dream was a reflection of my own artistic and spiritual growth.
That night, the dream recurred. I found my journal and wrote:
I keep dreaming about the Priestly Blessing bracelet. . . My husband was helping me decide which clear protective goggles to etch the Hebrew words on. My assistant (a stranger) helped because we were going to mass produce them. She kept referring to [The Client’s] family, saying they were “going to order a few million pairs of these goggles. That’s the rumor we’re going to start, so we can drum up interest for the piece.” I bent down, looked her square in the eyes and said “You don’t understand. There’s no scandal here. This isn’t about rumors. This piece is about the place where each of us is everything and nothing.” What a powerful moment.
Upon awakening, I knew I would make this object. Although I like offering a plain bracelet with the prayer inside, I also wanted to make some with a design.
Here are the two pencil drawn designs I created:
I was overcome with the joy of the creative process. It used all of my metalsmith skills. I was cutting, piercing, doing wirework, granulation, using the hydraulic press, rivets, and more. The pieces unfolded as I was creating them. One mold per bracelet was insufficient. Design elements would be cast separately. The cuff would be cast in sterling or bronze—sold plain. But I could also offer the piece with the “gate” or “wirework” in contrasting metal like bronze or gold. The focal shin would have its own mold, cast in silver or gold.
Two months after my dreams, I contacted my client, curious whether he’d want the bracelet for his daughter(s) and if he was interested in joining my creative process. He responded immediately: “Like in a mezuzah, you can’t have the YHVH on a bracelet unless it’s removed before going into a bathroom.” He referred me to an Orthodox rabbi who agreed:
“Maimonides in his responsa (teshuvot 268) is very strict in general with writing passages from the Torah on jewelry and garments, even on a tallit for a number of reasons that he details. Primarily because of the concern people will not cover it or remove it before entering restrooms, and it is forbidden to bring holy writings into bathrooms etc. (Unless properly covered).”
Since the bracelets will be used as amulets and for educational purposes, and the name of G-d is concealed inside the wearer’s wrist, I felt confident I was on the right path. However, I was grateful for the advice and pledged to provide a cloth bag, so it could be removed and stored properly. My Judaica comes with a tag with midrash, teachings, and inspiration. This piece would have instructions on how it’s intended for wear. I confirmed with the rabbi that bronze is a suitable metal. By the time we hung up, he gave his blessing.
Above are the copper masters I shipped to my caster.
I sent pictures to the client and asked for feedback. He said, “Looks great. Especially for Jewish Wonder Woman.” Although he won’t order the bracelets now, he inspired me and made sure Jewish Laws are respected for art of this nature.
Once the first round of castings are finished, I’ll solder the copper masters and order one more set of molds so that I can offer bracelets in one metal. I want them to be available in a variety of price points. When they’re finished, they’ll be professionally photographed.
The bracelets will be ready in time for the High Holidays. I will send out information about them as soon as possible.