Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Stitches in Time

Barbara Bensoussan

From a basement in Brooklyn, Susan Sutton creates masterful needle works with passion and purpose.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

As the mother of several children who married into Syrian families, I’ve attended quite a few swanees, pre-wedding parties where the chattan and kallah regale each other with gifts for their new life together. A kallah will receive a pair of silver candlesticks, siddurim inscribed with her new name, a challah cover, and personal gifts like perfume and a purse; the chattan receives his Shas, a becher, articles of clothing, cuff links, and so on. In recent years, a must-have item has been added to the list for chattanim: a koracha, or tallit bag, with a matching tefillin bag. “Koracha” comes from a Ladino word for bag, and today every chattan hopes for a needlepoint bag with his name on it, lovingly hand-stitched by his kallah (at least partially, since busy kallahs often enlist the assistance of mothers and aunts). Intrigued by this minhag, I wondered about its origins. Did the ladies of Aleppo and Damascus needlepoint a century ago, like their Victorian counterparts in England? Do the designs have any particular meaning? My queries ultimately pointed me to a basement needlework shop in the middle of Syrian Flatbush. Susan Sutton, the proprietress, laughed when I asked if sewing korachas was an old Syrian minhag. “Not at all!” she says. “Nobody was doing needlepoint korachas back in Aleppo. I was the first person to start making needlepoint tallit bags in my community, 35 years ago. Then it just caught on.” It wasn’t only bags that went viral in the community.Susan found herself the go-to person for advice, teaching stitches, and procuring supplies. The Ashkenazic friends she’d taught to needlepoint in the bungalow colony —Susan comes from an Ashkenazic family herself, and married into the Syrian community — continued calling once the summer was over. “I had to start charging, because it was getting too overwhelming spending so much time with people!” she says. She’d been creating her own designs for some time, and decided to open a shop in her basement where people could buy what they needed and receive instruction. Today, two of her daughters help in the store, and another artistically talented daughter,BatshevaCohen, runs a branch in Lakewood.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


 
Out with the Girls
Yonoson Rosenblum Another progressive revolution that eats its own
And I Will Glorify Him
Eytan Kobre Herman Wouk “made G-d a bestseller”
What You've Learned
Alexandra Fleksher Allow me to let you in on what school is all about
Going Broke
Mishpacha Readers Reader feedback for “The Kids Are Going to Camp..."
Top 5 Ways Jews Try to Lose Weight
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Gaining weight and talking about losing weight
He Soaked Up Our Pain
Rabbi Yaakov Klein A tribute to Reb Shlomo Cheshin ztz”l
Leaving on a High Note
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman And then it happened. I knew it would
Family Matters
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP Not the answers they teach in medical school
Play the Night Away
Riki Goldstein May we all share simchahs, no strings attached!
Fast Thinking
Faigy Peritzman How we react when we're exempt from a mitzvah
Baalat Teshuvah
Rachel Karasenti Don’t ask, “So how did you become frum?”
Confessions of a PhD Graduate
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When it comes to parenting, we’re always learning
Dear Favorite Little Sis
Anonymous I ended up wanting to be like you
Who's Making My Phone Calls?
Sara Eisemann Should I be upfront that I’m calling for myself?