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General History of the Wimpel

The first wimpelin were made in Germany in the mid 1600's. They were created only for male children from the swaddling cloth used to hold them for their Brit Milah. This fabric was later taken, cleaned, cut and sewn in a long strip. Then as in present day, the custom continues with the prayer, inscribed on a plain fabric, including the words ‘this boy, the son of____, born under the good star of (birthdate), to grow to study Torah, marry under the Chuppah and grow to do good deeds.' This is the central and immediate idea. Some wimpelin were embroidered, while most were decorated by the use of colored fabric inks. It was usual for a family member or talented artisan in the congregation to take on the task of creating the newborn's wimpel.

When the young boy had reached the age of his first haircut, he was then taken to the shul with his father, wimpel in hand, which would then be presented the congregation. The wimpel was left, together with other accumulated membership family wimpelin, to be brought out for use as a torah binder at the occasions of their Bnai Mitzvah. In the past, each congregation had kept the wimpelin stored away. These Torah Binders thus provided an interesting ‘record' of shul family membership. They were considered gifts to their congregations.

The above historical information was provided out of the reference book that originally introduced the idea to the artist and compiler of this presentation, Bonnie Kaplan. It is noted as follows and today continues to be an inspiring publication.

Strassfeld, Sharon and Michael, The Second Jewish Catalog. The Jewish Publication Society of America: Philadelphia, USA, 5737-1976, pgs. 40-43.


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