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About Binders

In order to hold the two staves of the Torah Scroll together when it is rolled up, a binder is necessary.

These binders were traditionally made from the linen or fine cotton diaper used at a boy’s circumcision. This would be laundered and cut into four strips which would then have been joined to make one long piece. The fabric would then have been embroidered in Hebrew lettering with silk thread, giving his Hebrew name, the name of his father, his date of birth according to the Hebrew calendar, perhaps his Zodiac sign and the devout wish, taken from the circumcision ceremony, that he would grow up to Torah (learning), Chuppah (marriage) and to Ma’asim Tovim (good deeds). Often there are also illustrations of the Torah Scroll and the Chuppah (wedding canopy).

Such a binder would be presented to the Synagogue on the boy’s first visit and would be used to wrap the Torah on special occasions in his life; his Bar Mitzvah (confirmation) and on the Sabbath preceding his wedding - symbolically binding him to the Torah and thereby reinforcing his Covenant with God.

However, there are a number of binders in the collection that have obviously been prepared for embroidery but are blank. Sadly, it would seem either that the baby was still-born or, in an age of poverty and high infant mortality, that he died before the embroidery could be done.