From the artist...
I made my first mezuzah cases in 1993, one year after I began the process of learning metalsmithing. I was 20 years old, questioning my faith, a Sociology major, and a sophomore in college wanting to understand how something like the Holocaust could have happened. I wanted to prevent future atrocities like this from occurring. I wanted to preserve a tradition. I wanted to know, how could there be a G-d, given the fact of the Holocaust? My first mezuzahs struck a chord within me to such a degree that I felt a need to make more.
My need to preserve tradition was as strong as a baby's drive to crawl and then walk. I proclaimed no faith in G-d but I knew that, as a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, every day I lived was a victory over Nazi brutality. My talent in metal was innate, as I come from a long line of precision tool and die makers and blacksmiths. Using my grandpa's hand tools, and investing any money I had, I designed my line of limited-production mezuzah cases and started my business in 1998, selling them to individuals and stores around the country.
About eight years after making my first cases, I began to study the text on the mezuzah scroll. That's when I went through a spiritual transformation. I felt that the Sh'ma and V'hafta prayers were profound and universal, and that the mezuzah was a gift from G-d, reminding us of how to create sacred space, and ultimately a peaceful world. I designed a tag that would accompany each mezuzah, giving the teaching, so that any human being who wanted to understand and use the mezuzah as part of their personal spiritual practice could. To be honest, nothing makes me feel more important than making Judaica (I am not yet a mother). It is an honor, and it helps me give positive meaning to my family's experience as survivors of the Holocaust.
Personally, I believe that the teachings within Judaism are universal. The Source of Life (G-d) is the same for everyone, regardless of faith affiliation. I use my Judaica to teach people of all faiths how we Jews see G-d—as being everywhere and a part of everything; that there is a vast oneness here on earth; and that we are all interconnected. I want to create a peaceful world through the making of Judaica. Once I began this spiritual path, why would I want to make anything else? As an artist, I refuse to make things just because I know they will sell, such as a Star of David. I make jewelry of the Hebrew letter shin because the meanings are universal: shaddai, protection; Shekhinah, feminine presence of G-d; sh'ma, not just "hear" but understand, and of course shalom, peace.
As my work moves forward with the Women's Torah Project, I plan to create a crown that both glorifies the beauty in the meaning and tradition of studying Torah and also encourages a dialogue among Jews and non-Jews on the meaning of Torah. As women, we are naturally compassionate as we give birth to all nations. May this women-scribed Torah usher in an era of greater compassion and understanding of one another and of our most holy treasure. May we do justice to this historical and life-changing event, through our art and in representing this Torah to our people and all people who encounter it.