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Pearls and Palettes

Gila Arnold

The place was no more than a construction site. But for two days, all was magically transformed as the yet unfinished mikveh of Ramat Beit Shemesh became a hub of events and lectures and togetherness for over 2,000 women from a rainbow of communities. The highlight was a 20-room art exhibit, depicting each pasuk of Eishes Chayil. This stunning visual display did more than show off the formidable creativity and talent of the women of the community; it was a joyous celebration of unity.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Alef: Eishes chayil mi yimtza v’rachok mipninim michrah — A woman of valor, who can find, her worth is more precious than pearls.” The beautiful brocaded chuppah that forms the focal point of this exhibit comes from across the ocean — with a story in tow. Over a decade ago, Mrs. Chaya Reiss a”h was asked to help raise funds for a new mikveh in Brooklyn. She hit on an innovative idea: Each week she rose before dawn and went to the flower market. She bought a plethora of fresh flowers which she and a group of volunteers arranged in attractive bouquets and sold on Erev Shabbos. Eventually, through her contacts in the flower world, her tzedakah enterprise grew and she served as an agent between florists and baalei simchah, with the agent’s cut going toward her precious cause. When her niece became a kallah, rather than put together the usual temporary chuppah of draped material and flowers, the family asked Mrs. Reiss to make a chuppah that could be used again for future weddings. The resulting chuppah, with its fine flowered embroidery, poles, and gems, was so breathtaking that others began borrowing it. A new fundraiser was born. Over the years, two more chuppahs have been added to their collection, and other tzedakah organizations benefited as well. The chuppah in this exhibit is one of the originals, flown in from America to serve its purpose once again, of helping fund the building of a new mikveh.

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