Last week at Oakland Hebrew Day School, we celebrated one of the most charming rituals of our year – Chaggigat haSiddur – when the students in 1st grade receive their siddurim. The children’s anticipation is heightened because they know that their parents have been busily occupied with designing a siddur cover that is uniquely for them.
Weeks before the date of the ceremony, parents gathered in the Art Studio at OHDS for several hours of companionship, learning and creating. Even those who were “reluctant artists” found themselves up to the task.
To prepare for the cover making, the 1st grade teacher had pre- cut pieces of velvet to the best size for covering the siddur. (Cloth siddur covers are available for purchase on the Torah Aura website. Siddurim vary in size. Thay are not “one size fits all.”) Once selected, the velvet piece is folded to fit the siddur (closed as well as opened) and glued into place with Tacky glue.
Decorating the cover takes many forms. Some parents enjoy working in felt, creating rainbows, trees and even the Batman insignia all tailored to their children’s interests and passions. Although I supply a wealth of fabrics, ribbons, gems and sequins, many parents walk in laden with bags of supplies tailored to their children’s profiles. Suddenly the covers come alive with butterfly gardens, undersea adventures, and expressions of Shabbat, other treasured holidays and precious family memories. Everything is attached with Tacky glue to allow for a long and strong result.
To write the children’s names, most parents use dimensional fabric paints. Others make the letters out of ribbon and some painstakingly cut the letters out from fabrics. Inside the front cover, parents write a blessing to the child. Many parents attach a family photo inside the back cover.
When the day of Chagggat Siddur arrives, the children all immaculately dressed for the occasion, sing their prepared songs and perform their well learned dances. The hallmark of the morning comes when each family grouping meets underneath a chuppah, painted by OHDS students, and presents the siddur to the child, who has been awaiting this moment for weeks. Precious also, are the moments, years later, when the students (now in older elementary or middle school grades) reminisce about who they were when they received that decorated siddur from which they still daven.
[Follow the artists of Oakland Hebrew Day School on FaceBook – Art at OHDS]