Definition of the Word Wimpel:
An old German word for cloth or veil derived from the word bewimfen, meaning to cover up, or conceal. (‘The Wimpel: Binding the Family to the Torah’ by Dr. Michael Kaniel, JEWISH ACTION, Summer, 5753/1993, Vol.53/No.3, pgs.41-44). The author of this article is an excellent resource for scholarly material collected on the wimpel and can be reached at the following address: Dr. M. Kaniel, PO Box 4075, Chopin St., Jerusalem, Israel. According to research found by Dr. Kaniel (footnote 18. Hamburger, Ibid., 240, p.69.), Reb Yuzpa Shamash (1603-1678), a local functionary in Worms, Germany, states that “it was the mohel’s duty to provide the wimpel for the brit, and after the circumcision, “we write on it the boy’s name as he would be called up to the Torah, and also his birth date and month and the year…and we draw on it the mazel (Zodiak sign) for that month.
Bob Wascou, former president and an active member of the Sacramento Jewish Genealogical Society, forwarded the following article to Bonnie Kaplan. It was written by Carl Alpert in Haifa, Israel. This article is a jewel and reinforces the special value and inherent denouement of the unusual folk custom, the wimpel. It is titled ‘The Strange Story of a Wimpel That Came Home.’
An Article Published in The San Diego Jewish Times:
Tova Bieler Celebrates a Chanukah Bat Mitsvah
Tova’s Bat Mitzvah was special in more ways than the ordinary ‘rite of passage’ would suggest. She was honored to carry the torch of Judah Maccabbee to defend her place as a young Jewish woman in celebration of Chanukah. Enjoyment of the simcha with family and friends took place at Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School on Sunday, December 21, 2003. A personal Torah binder, known as a wimpel, was given to Tova and represents her continuing alignment with Jewish learning. This unique German Jewish folk religious custom founded in the 1600’s includes, within the traditional prayer, the recording of the chronological Judaic experiences of Tova’s life. An original design, inked on fabric running nearly 8 feet, presents notation of each simcha. The celebration of her Bat Mitzvah by her parents, Ron and Cora Bieler and siblings, Lane, Ari, Josh and Brie have been duly noted. Tova and her parents were honored to receive the wimpel, designed by Bonnie Kaplan, an source on the subject of the wimpel as a Torah binder. The family was delighted in sharing this simcha with friends and family alike.
"We have used the wimpel at 4 family Bar Mitzvahs and will use it again at a Bat Mitzvah in September. There are many more Bar/Bat Mitzvahs to follow." ~Shari Fine
“Our Pimstone family wimpel has been utilized for every simcha since its creation in Sacramento, California, July 9, 1999. It has been updated with details of the specific occasion before using it to bind one of our Congregations’ Torah scrolls. Simchot include four second generation B’Nai Mitzvot and four weddings. Third generation events include births (naming or brit milah) and dedications of new homes (Chanukat ha Bayit) with the placement of their family mezuzah.” "Our family simchot, without the ritual use of our wimpel would feel like celebrating Pesach without performing the Seder.” ~ Dr. and Mrs. Neville Pimstone
“Steven and I felt the wimpel brought a strong tradition of Judaism and family to our ceremony. The fact that it is something that can be handed down through the generations makes it even more special to us.” ~Steven Melnick/Melissa Burton
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