Photo: Courtesy of Sally Rosenberg
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. Here I’m a sixth generation member of a vibrant congregation where I volunteer as a B’nai mitzvah speech writing coach, sometimes I teach Torah Study on Shabbat , and I am the teacher for the eight month course that all gerim/converts take while meeting with their sponsoring rabbis before their beit din and mikveh,. Speaking of mikveh, I must confess. I’m a mikvaholic. I am the Mikveh lady (known lovingly as Our Lady of the Mikveh for two congregations). I find the mikveh to be a centering experience. For the 30 seconds under the water of the mikveh, we can ask for anything, but, of course we ask for the most important things first: health, love, fulfilment, wisdom, patience (your list may differ). The list could go on, but we need to come up for air. This reminds me monthly that the short list is what matters and everything else is chatter. Also, I’m a Spanish teacher. I love communicating, and I speak 5 languages.
What inspired you to become an artist?
I was teaching my gerim about making their homes into Jewish homes when I thought it would be fun to make mezuzot while learning; so I figured out how to make whimsical personalized mezuzot, and I taught my class how to do the same. When I returned home, I continued to make them just for fun.
What is your specialty?
My specialties are theme mezuzot from Harry Potter to Game of Thrones to Elvis to Star Wars/Trek to any university or team you can imagine. I also make broken wedding glass mezuzot. The bride or groom sends me their broken glass and consults with me on exactly what they want. Then I just make some mezuzot with no theme that are simply beautiful.
How and where do you work?
I have a Jewish library that also serves as my workshop where I try to imagine “what next?” as I create new mezuzot that are sometimes beautiful, sometimes whimsical, and sometimes thematic to reflect the myriad of possibilities in this world and in this life.
What is the most indispensable item in your workshop?
My imagination. When some items are no longer available, I am good at figuring out ways to create an image or a feeling for any client.
Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?
I take inspiration from my community, from popular culture and from ancient wisdom. Themes are central to my work. If you can imagine it, I can make it: every Hogwarts house, fairies, unicorns, elephants, dogs, cats, birds, nature, Jerusalem stone, every team you love, every show you love, and more.
Do you do bespoke work?
Much of my work is bespoken. I love input from my customers. At least half of my mezuzot are made in partnership with my clients
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a University of Michigan Mezuzah, a Hufflepuff Mezuzah, and a Trucks mezuzah.
What are your favourite items in your current collection?
I love the items with green leaves and reminders of our beautiful and fragile world.
How do you know when a piece is finished?
I look at the piece, and if a feeling of peace settles over me; that’s when I know it’s done. When the piece feels the peace, so do I.
What was the first artwork you ever sold?
My daughter came home to visit and saw 50 mezuzot on my dining room table. She asked what they were for and where did I get them. I told her that I made them and that I was going to give them as gifts. She countered, “I’m making you an Etsy!” Within a week, my mezuzot were selling all over the world.
Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?
It’s hard to pick one, but since I’m a huge Game of Thrones and Harry Potter fan (I’m a Slytherin), I really love those. Jewish Wizards are real. Bringing God into the whimsical is sacred.
What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?
I want people’s mezuzot to reflect their lives and interests. I believe that when this happens, people will look at their mezuzot more often. And when they look at their mezuzot more often, I hope they remember as they enter and exit to follow this commandment: You shall love.
Where can we find your work?
My work is available on Etsy here:
Photos: Courtesy of Sally Rosenberg