For many observant Jews, wrapping tefillin- small, black boxes with leather straps, which contain Torah texts, tied to one’s arm and forehead–is a ritual during weekday morning prayer.
But on Sunday, Lisa Levy of West Hartford came to understand the commandment stated in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might ” in a profound way.
Levy was among the sixty people who attended World Wide Wrap XIV, at the Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford. The program of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs is to teach and get Jews, including women and children, throughout the world to wrap tefillin.
“I learned that tefillin is a reminder that God is always close, on our hands, and in our hearts and minds. This is part of my journey into Judaism that I’ve always wanted to take,” said Levy, 57, explaining that she never had the opportunity to don tefillin when she attended a Reform synagogue back in the 1960s.
Eric Goldberg, who organized the event and led wrapping demonstrations, explained that Jews who wear tefillin are literally and figuratively obeying the Torah verses contained in the black boxes, which are taken from the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, where Moses, after receiving the ten commandments.
World Wide Wrap was organized to promote the use of Tefflin and make it accessible to everyone. While women have been historically exempt from wearing tefillin, some Israeli and United States Orthodox women and girls are fighting to partake in the commandment.
Avigayil Halpern, who attends Hebrew High School of New England in West Hartford, was recently featured in The Times of Israel as part of a growing trend in modern Orthodox high schools where females are allowed to don tefillin and “express their own Jewish observance “as fully” as the males.”
Last month, two Modern Orthodox schools in New York announced they would allow girls to wear tefillin during prayer services.
Rabbi D. Small said wearing tefillin is open to all women and girls in his Conservative synagogue. In fact, he told the girls in attendance that it was “their right to put on tefillin.”
Last year more than 10,000 individuals on five continents: Australia, Asia, India, Europe and both North and South America participated in the World Wide Wrap Day, according to Federation of Jewish Men’s Club’s website.
For Levy, the experience was so meaningful that she’s thinking of purchasing a tefillin to pray at home.