Sewing Shrouds

Liv London was in her early 40s when she was first introduced to the sewing circle. “I understood this was something important that I wanted to be part of,” said London, now 70. Today, she is the organizer of the group of eight Norwegian Jewish women who carry on the ancient tradition of sewing shrouds by hand. According to Rabbi Joav Melchior of congregation Det Mosaiske Trossamfund, Norway may be one of the few countries in Europe—if not the only one—that still sews its own tachrechim. “It’s so intimate: We know who we sew for. We prepare tachrechim (simple cotton burial clothing) for our aunts, friends, mothers, and fathers. Sometimes we even sew for ourselves…” Though it’s easier to buy ready-made sets, Melchior points out that when a community transitions to modernity… some- thing unique is lost “We are few enough that we are able to maintain self-sufficiency in caring for our own in death as well as in life,” Melchior said. “And this strengthens us as a community.”

—From “Oslo’s Jewish Sewing Circle,” Tablet Magazine, February 2022.