Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Iyar 5761 - May 16, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Geniza Storage Container

by Devora Piha

The Geniza Storage Container is similar to the Pach Shmitta containers we made a while back because they both hold objects of kedusha. The Pach Shmitta containers were projects that pointed out a practical means for raising the awareness of kedusha in the home. The arts/crafts projects reminded us of simcha shel mitzva since, as one reader wrote in, they give a boost to the mitzva and upgrade the child's awareness in the bargain.

Now that Pesach is after us, maintenance and storage containers are still on our minds. Part of the cleaning consisted of going through papers, newspapers and seforim to send to geniza. This is a project for all year, and the better we keep it up, the less we will have to do before next Pesach.

Geniza is the "pre-hiding place" for the storehouse of texts containing sheimos, holy texts. It follows that the place in our homes that hold articles awaiting their final destination (actually, burial) should be an honorable one instead of a plain plastic bag in the storage room. So -- let's make a container for these geniza items. Our Geniza storage container will be something practical, visual and will express our proper feelings towards holy texts.


* To save space in the containers and in the Geniza, separate the pages from the YATED that contain shemos -- divrei Torah and pass along or discard the remainder of the newspaper as you would with other publications.

[Ed. Before discarding YATED or other readworthy material, check local listings of organizations that are interested in these publications, such as old age homes, Kiruv organizations, hospitals and school libraries etc.

If you do discard, set aside a periodical time, like every (other) Motzaei Shabbos, and do all your newspapers or give this job to the children. Cutters will do the job excellently. Be careful.]

* Be sure to insert two strong non-transparent bags in the container to cover the items properly and for easy removal.

* All of the following projects can be converted to storage and home decorations.


The design on the container is up to you. Use the words Geniza or Sifrei Kodesh or motifs of the various sifrei kodesh or sidurim. For a more involved pictorial project, use yarn, fabric paint or paint to depict a picture of a geniza or of children carrying the items to a geniza storage box. This will involve research if you've never seen one.


* To make a bag, take apart an old pillow case and use for a pattern. Increase size of seam to compensate for the extra heavy weight of the books and papers. Include a casing for a drawstring. Attach a safety pin to one end of the cord or rope and insert into the casing. Pin the other end to the bag and work the safety pin through the casing until both ends are large enough to tie together. Tie knots on rope ends to prevent rope from coming out.

* Plan out on paper an embroidery or yarn stitch design for the bag. Use embroidery or other large needle to stitch the words Geniza or Sheimos with threads or yarns. Or do a motif of various sifrei kodesh or Hebrew letters at random, preferably the kind with Torah script.


A hanging laundry hamper bag is similar to a garment bag on a hanger. This is suitable for lightweight geniza articles such as papers and notebooks. Use an existing hanging laundry bag or sew one from heavy duty material such as canvas or a plastic weave material used for out of doors on succas or fence covers. Decorate with fabric paint. [Or use an old, but in good condition, white man's shirt, sew the bottom across and put on hanger. Decorate with fabric paint -- Hebrew letters or motifs.]


Use a wicker basket for a hidden storage area. Cover top with a piece of wood and tablecloth or simply use a basket with a lid cover. These baskets are chic, inexpensive and add charm. Choose a size according to style and height of furniture in the room. Place a thick piece or several pieces of styrofoam or other material to lift the geniza material off the bottom of the basket. Insert two non- transparent bags to cover the sifrei kodesh items.


You've decided on a wicker basket geniza storage.

For a very original and lovely decorative touch, cut out a piece of flower foam (available from a florist) or styrofoam to fit snuggly inside top of basket. Use a craft knife. Cover the sides along the circle with green or white cloth tape. This will prevent foam from chipping off when piece is removed and replaced for access to inside of basket. Purchase several artificial flowers with short stems or cut off excess stems with wire cutter and arrange on foam for a low flower arrangement. For permanency, use a hot glue gun to hold flowers in place. This is the technique gift stores use to attach artificial flowers to frames for flower studded Bircas Habayis plaques.

HOT GLUE GUNS are easy to use and can be used for other crafts or home decorating projects. Keep away from small children and do not touch heated glue until dry, and cool for about five to ten minutes.

Flowers can be simply lined up in neat rows, all the same variety or in an alternating pattern of two or three varieties similar to arranging a selection of cakes on a tray. Place carefully into top of basket. The flower arrangement is both a cover and a pleasing decoration.


Use a soda case carton or other sturdy box. Cover the corrugated box with gift or shelf paper (preferably a solid color or a pattern that compliments the drawings the children do). Royal or cheerful colors such as gold, silver or yellow stand out and attract the interest of children. Make with your child several drawings of sifrei kodesh. Spray with clear acrylic spray if desired. Cut out and glue on the box.


Cover a cardboard file box and the lid with sticky contact paper with a design. Or if contact paper is a solid white, have child draw directly on contact paper with permanent markers all the articles that can go into the geniza they can think of. A discussion of the geniza and its purpose beforehand will open up possibilities of what to draw.


Use an existing wooden box or make this a carpentry project. Ask a local carpenter for measurements and wood specifications or follow directions from a "How To" book on basic carpentry. Wood can be precut at the lumberyard or at home. When completed, paint with color or a stain. Wood can be carved with wood carving tools for a more involved project. Save this project for when the boys are home and are looking for "something to do." Boys will be excited to construct something useful for the geniza.


Use plastic storage or delivery boxes. This is similar to projects children do weaving yarn through berry baskets. Here they can weave in and out of larger holes. Choose a medium or large cubic storage box. Our project is on a larger scale and requires wide ribbon. Measure the space in the slots and choose a variety of sizes of colorful and shiny ribbons. Weave your way in and out of the holes for a fancy option to a plain storage container. Finish off each row with glue, a stitch or a billowing bow. You may want to decorate other storage basket/boxes as well. Set on shelf.

Devora Piha is available for next year's school programs. All types of art/ craft/ design courses for English speakers from nursery age to seminary girls. Also summer groups. 02- 9931-592.


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