The prayer shawl that Myron Slobin received when he was bar mitzvahed in 1955 will have a new home Sept. 8 when Slobin, spiritual leader of the Siouxland International Messianic Fellowship, presents it for dedication to the Rev. Jim Wilson, pastor of the Glendale Baptist Church.
The shawl, or tzitzit will replace the runner on the church’s communion table which was accidentally damaged by the Messianic Fellowship which has been meeting on Fridays at the church for about 3 years.
“It’s very significant to the Old Testament ties and to the Bible,” Wilson said of the tallit. “It’s something that’s very near and dear to the Jewish faith as well as to the Christian faith because it’s our roots. It’s going to be very significant to our ties, what the communion table stands for, between the Passover and the Lord’s Supper. My eyes have been opened to the working together of these two fellowships, and this is going to draw us even closer together.”
An errant candle used by fellowship members burned a hole in the old runner, said Slobin, whose immediate reaction was that the fellowship, as guests, should at least replace the runner, which both the church and fellowship use.
He first thought of using the bar mitzvah prayer shawl of a Jewish man whom he had brought to faith, but the shawl had too many stains that couldn’t be properly cleaned. He then turned to his own prayer shawl which he has only taken out occasionally for demonstration purposes, it being too small for him to use any more.
“The significance of this prayer shawl is not only to say to this congregation how much we appreciate the support that we have gotten and the closeness that we have developed over the time that we have been here, which is about three years,” Slobin said. “But it is important to me personally. I’ve been a member of this church for over 20 years, and it expresses a relationship and affection that I have for this church and how supportive they have been for me over the time that I have been going here, as well.”
The dedication date also has some liturgical significance, falling between Sept. 4-6, which is Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New year, and Sept. 13-14, which is Yom Kippur, the most solemn Jewish day in the Jewish year, Slobin noted.
“And in between is what is called the Days of Awe, the last days in which a Jewish person has the opportunity to make things right with his fellow Jewish persons because if he doesn’t, God won’t accept his sacrifice, which is on the Day of Atonement when he atones to God. So you’ve got 10 days left to make things right. Those 10 days represent reconciliation to me and, in the same way, this gift and the acceptance of this gift represents to me the reconciliation between Jews and Christians in the Messiah, Yeshua. So there you go.”
The English translation of the prayer on Slobin’s tallit is “Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to enwrap ourselves with tzitzit.”
The tzitzit refers to the fringes on the shawl, which are there to remind the Jew of the commandments of the Torah that must be obeyed.
The Jews’ search for a logical correlation between the tallit and the commandments of God was rewarded with intriguing discoveries, Slobin said. The numerical value of the word tzitzit is 600, and each of the fringes contains 8 threads and 5 knots, making a total of 613. This number corresponds to the 613 commandments contained in the Torah.