by Berit Engen

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.

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