A PHONE call from Project Kesher Melbourne (PKM) to Alana Hersh kick-started local community-based tzitzit manufacturing to send to Israel.
Hersh, well-known as a bridal wear designer, dressmaker and sewing teacher, told The AJN, “I got a phone call a couple of weeks ago asking if I would like to create a prototype of tzitzit that can be given to other people who would like to be involved making them.
“After October 7, so many of us were just happy to help in any way,” Hersh said. The sample was kosher approved by Rabbi Kimche of Mizrachi, and a batch of 50 t-shirts were delivered to her workroom to become tzitzit. “My sewing students, nine girls between the ages of nine and 12 plus one 17-year-old arrived on the day of delivery. I think all of us felt this beautiful sense of coming together.”
There were six sewing machines. The t-shirts were cut down the sides and then the seams were stitched to create four-cornered garments necessary for kosher tzitzit.
Two girls ironed reinforcements on the edges before another girl cut the threads, folding them neatly and putting them into a box before the next step of punching eyelets.
“We had Israeli music on, munching on snacks, and the kids were working together so beautifully. They were marking the fabric, cutting the fabric, sewing and ironing it was a beautiful process,” Hersh said. “I think they were so happy to be involved in any way that they could to support Israel.”
PKM were effusive with their gratitude to Hersh. She replied, “I have to thank you and my students. It was a proud moment to watch them come together for a really important cause and a special mitzvah. I was so proud of them. We’ve been sewing, and some of them have been with me for years, but to see them come together, and work as a team, it was a very special moment.”
On Sunday, November 19, at Mizrachi Shule another group of volunteers tied the strings on to complete the first batch, under rabbinical supervision. It took about an hour per garment to do the strings. One volunteer stated, “I’ve always wanted to learn about the strings; I learned the ancient knot tying while saying special prayers for the soldiers, all the while, counting in my head the prescribed loops and turns, knots and double knots.”
After the tzitzit were completed, PKM volunteers had the opportunity to write a special letter to the recipients. PKM raises funds for civilian aid and critical medical necessities such as gauze, tourniquets, EIA, mobile ultrasound devices and much more. It accepts donations of phones, laptops and tablets which will be used for home schooling for children relocated after the war began.