Calgary launches Shawl-om Project

Raw materials used by the Shawl-Om project crafters for distribution to members of the community. Photo supplied.

by Sari Shernofsky

(AJNews) – Calgary Jewish crafters have launched a new community–based project to create and distribute shawls and blankets to frail or isolated members of the community. The project is called Shawl-Om. 

The innovative project was conceived by Michele Doctoroff. “I noticed that the Christian community creates “prayer shawls” for their members, and I thought that we could do something similar – comfort shawls and blankets!”

An example of the handi-work created by the Shawl-Om Project crafters of Calgary.

Michele shared her idea with Sari Shernofsky, Jewish Community Chaplain, and Rimon, Calgary’s Jewish needlework guild, and soon a committee was formed, composed of Rimon President Esther Silberg, Nadine Waldman, Marilyn Samuels and Trudy Cowan, as well as Michele and Sari.

The project encourages community members to knit, sew, crochet or quilt lovely covers that can be used as small lap blankets or shawls. The labels on the items will say they are “provided with love by the Calgary Jewish community”.

Jewish Family Service Calgary and the Calgary Jewish Federation have stepped in with some funding for the project, although it is expected that the hand-crafted versions will be donated by their creators.

“We estimate that there may be as many as 300 members of the community who might appreciate this type of gift,” says Sari. “Many of them are isolated and don’t get out very much. This is an aspect of bikur cholim that everyone can contribute to.”

It has been especially relevant during these COVID times, when many feel especially isolated and alone. Long-term care residents are only allowed one half-hour outdoor visit a week with a single loved one!

Here is a response from a pleased recipient: “I can’t quite give enough thanks for my gorgeous throw from Shawl-Om. The incredible workmanship that went into producing this colourful and useful handmade throw greatly cheers me every day I use it. The Calgary Jewish Community is a caring lot! Keep up the great work.”

If you know anyone who would appreciate a shawl or blanket, please contact Sari Shernofsky at 403-830-5920.

For more information, or contact Michele Doctoroff at 403-238-2919 or

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