The Story Behind the Tree
By Andy Elster
I am honored to share with you the story behind the tree in the logo. It has been part of my family for over thirty years thanks to my mother, Rhoda Elster z”l. In addition to a long career as a nurse my mother was an extremely talented artist whether it be drawing, painting, knitting, crocheting, weaving or any other pursuit.
As long as I can remember my mother was always drawing pictures on my lunch bags, sewing dresses for my sisters, knitting and making afghans and blankets. She began creating Jewish ritual art many years ago being involved with the creation a torah mantle for the congregation where I grew up. Her interests branched out into weaving, first with a floor loom when she wove my father and I each a tallis for my Bar Mitzvah and then on to weaving tapestries. She also started learning about wimpels, a Yiddish term for binder or sash. These are used to wrap a torah as well as wrapping a baby boy for his bris.
My mother designed our wimpel, to be used for my aufruf, the Shabbat celebration before my wedding. She added both my wife’s name and my name to the base of the tree with room to grow. With the birth of each child the wimpel was part of their naming and their names were added to the family tree. We used the wimpel to wrap the torah for each of their bar/bat mitzvahs. By the time my oldest daughter was married, it fell upon me to add my son-in-law’s name next to my daughter’s and I have had the honor and privilege to add the names of three grandchildren as well.
My mother passed away over a year ago and during this time I became involved with the creation of Irvine Hebrew Day School. When discussions began regarding a logo the tree that my mother created over thirty years ago immediately came to mind. What better way to express the values of our school than to reach into our personal history and share it lovingly with our children. The creation of a new experiential school rooted in Jewish traditions seemed like a perfect fit and an ideal way to honor and cherish my mother’s legacy.