Tapestries, Sacred and Profane

I, a weaver since childhood, decided to use this ancient craft to take on the centuries-old tradition of making commentaries on Jewish texts — as well as on the engaging, joyous, and at times difficult aspects of Jewish living. I was born in Oslo in 1955. I moved to Chicago in 1985 and settled in Oak Park, IL, a year later, where I sometimes sit and weave under a locust tree. In Norway I wove under the vast and open sky, especially liking to sit next to tar-smelling, centuries-old log cabins, or in a lingonberry patch, or on huge, smooth boulders in a place called “The End of the World” where the archipelago disappears in the distance. Or I wove in our small Oslo apartment right next to the endless woods. Sometimes I would sleep in these woods in the snow at night on a reindeer hide under tall fir trees after skiing with friends in moonlight to a small and silent white lake. After a hiatus of 18 years, I found my way back to my loom and yarn, and started weaving again full time, this time with a different perspective. I now combine my love of my Norwegian heritage with my embrace of Judaism.

Book of Psalms

As I was weaving from the Psalms, it became clear to me how my own experiences of natural landscapes and natural light play such a role in how I hear the words of the psalmist…

On “…justice and peace have kissed”: Why “justice and peace?” Why not “love and peace?” Maybe it is because justice can be debated and negotiated in a way love cannot. It can be made into laws and rules. Also, there is no real peace without justice.

"Open for me the gates of justice."
“Open for me the gates of justice.”

To see more of Berit Engen’s work, and read more of her commentaries on Judaism and weaving, visit beritengen-tapestries.com.