Posted by on Jun 30, 2011 in Jewish Ritual Art, News, Public Art | 2 comments

Susan Leviton designed and made new Torah covers - 2007
Dickinson College Torah Mantles

When the Hillel at Dickinson College acquired a building on campus, a chapel was planned and furnished with a commissioned ark and reader’s table crafted by Gary Rosenthal.   I was hired to design and craft two Torah mantles and a wimple.  I first worked with student members of the Hillel to brainstorm colors and designs and then developed these two.  Crafted of Dupionne silks, with glass beads and mirror embellishments, the mantles are a perfect fit for the copper colored and dazzling glass Torah ark.

Each of the colors represented in the silk designs is found in the ark.   Sewing techniques include crazy quilt piecing, trapunto, applique, and embroidery.  The panels were made fit the Torahs as each Torah has a specific length and thickness when rolled.

The wording on the Torah to the left means, “It’s [Torah’s] way are ways of pleasantness and all of it’s paths are peace.”


  1. 6-23-2016

    Hi, Susan:
    The Torah Mantles are beau-tiful! I also love that you do papercuts. You live in NY? I am in Cincinnati, OH. Any chance you are already headed this way sometime either in the Fall or next Spring? I am part of 2 groups that would be very interested in doing a papercuts class/workshop. What do you charge? How long is the class? Minimum or maximum number of attendees?
    You are a member of AGJA, right? I am also – and my Torah mantles were done in needlepoint. OY! Actually I did the artwork, but members of the Congregation did the stitching. Still, a long, long project. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you, Beth Goldstein Torah cover images are on my website under Judaica Shop/Fine Art

    • 6-30-2016

      Good morning, Beth. Sorry it’s taken me a while to get to this message! I live in Harrisburg, PA, about 8 hours from Cincinnati, but I’m on the road a lot. I travel to do workshops and artist residencies. The idea of a papercut workshop is intriguing. I do this often with groups of varying sizes, often in the context of a retreat or program where I have four sessions of 90 minutes and the option for people to continue working beyond class time. An alternative plan, especially for a group already artistically engaged, is a single, long class – one day. Although there’s no minimun (more fun and creative when there’s a group, which I’ll explain) but I limit the maximium to 15 – sharp blades and a tremendous amount of one-on-one teaching. I’d like to talk with you about a reasonable fee that would cover my travel and an honorarium. I bring EVERYTHING, from cutting mats and blades to fine papers and books. I begin the class with a whirlwind ‘tour’ of the history of papercutting and then focus on the particular intricacies of Jewish papercutting. From there we jump into whatever moves people to design and cut. Even after a long one-session adventure, there’s an art show to hang – guaranteed!
      What happens when there’s a mix of young and older people in a class (nobody younger than 10 or 12) is that the younger people tend to dive right in and spit out a finished papercut in a minute while the older people think and move more deliberately. That always creates a shift in the room, giving permission to the older people to be more experimental, and encouraging younger people to go slow and plan something more intricate. Magic.
      If there’s a chance that you could help me fold a few other activities into what would become a residency, then I could work up a reasonable fee for a papercutting class. I do a lot of performing in Yiddish and work with synagogues and college Hillel groups in a wide range of jewish arts, working with pre-schoolers to senior adults. If there’s a possibility of a residency for a few days, the papercutting class could be folded in and therefore reasonable for you from a financial perspective. Please take a look at my website under residencies and let’s see if we can brainstorm something!
      Thanks for contacting me. I’m heading to your website now to take a look! My email address is susan@susanlevitonarts.con

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