TORONTO — Marya Nurgitz, 12, created her bat mitzvah project to honour her late grandmother.
On Jan. 23, she invited a group of friends to work on a quilt she plans to donate to the Toronto Jewish Quilting Project, which provides quilts for people touched by cancer.
Marya, a Grade 7 student at Netivot HaTorah Day School, said her grandmother died in 1998 from cancer, “and I feel that [this project] honours her and includes her in my bat mitzvah spiritually, even though she isn’t here physically.”
She said that when her mother, Sarah, asked her how she wanted to celebrate her bat mitzvah, she knew immediately that she wanted to do a charity project.
“Everyone, as a child, thinks about me, me, me, and what they want for themselves. Obviously, that includes me as well. I decided I just had to celebrate my bat mitzvah with some sort of tzedakah.”
Marya said she and her mother contacted Eva Karpati, a breast cancer survivor, who 10 years ago founded the Toronto Jewish Quilting Project, now a project of National Council of Jewish Women, Toronto section.
“I just loved the idea of a young, Jewish group meeting to quilt, and discovering a new art form,” Karpati said. “People often think of groups getting together to quilt in church basements. Why not quilt in a Jewish environment? The camaraderie between women in a quilting group is amazing. Men are absolutely invited to attend our meetings, but somehow, they just don’t come.”
Marya said that before the actual event, she asked all the guests what they would like on their quilted square, perhaps their name or an item that means something to them. She chose images and emailed them to the girls, until they were satisfied.
“Then I drew each image by hand and traced it onto adhesive paper. This was ironed onto the fabric used for the image and cut out. Then I pulled off the paper and ironed the fabric onto the blue square. The whole process took about 40 hours.
“My friends liked the party a lot,” Marya said. “We didn’t completely finish the quilt, but we plan to get together again to finish it.”
Karpati said she would love to see the group continue. “We have discussed starting a satellite group at Netivot.”