Last week we ran a picture of an embroidered bench in Jerusalem, and promised to return this week with more information. Well, we heard from the artist’s family — and it turns out that there’s a New Jersey connection to this bit of urban beautification.
The artist is Talya Tomer Schlesinger. She’s a graduate of Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. She holds craft workshops in her house, and runs the paint-your own pottery program at a Jerusalem JCC. In applying for a grant to beautify Derech Beit Lechem, the Jerusalem street where the bench is located, she was inspired by her grandmother’s needlepoint. The metal grid of the bench reminded her of the canvases her grandmother used for needlepoint.
Because the bench is exposed to the elements, Ms. Schlesinger decided to work with threads from the material used for bathing suits. It may not last for years, but it will survive the post-Sukkot rains. She made embroidering the bench a community project, inviting onlookers to add their own stitches.
Oh, and the New Jersey connection: Her father, Barry Schlesinger, was raised in Englewood and served as interim rabbi a few years back at Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck. It’s a small world — and Talya would be happy to embroider it all.