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Pinterest Has No Good Ideas For Decorating Jewishly

Chagall-window

 

I’m desperate to redo the sad, drab entryway in my house. After seven moves with the U.S. military, I’ve become accustomed to simply putting our things “where they fit” in whatever home we’re currently living in.

Our family–and our belongings–have become the only real indication of where our “home” is after moving so much. But now that we’re more settled at our current duty station, it’s time to really reevaluate.

Does this home look like we want it to? Like us? Who are we, anyway?

My talents do not lie in home decor. My mother influences my style much more than I’d like to admit (“This area really needs a lamp!” and, “How would you react if we introduced a color other than brown?”)

Therefore, I recently began collecting ideas on Pinterest, like most women of my generation who seek instant gratification and irritatingly perfect photos of luxuriously appointed homes. But after about three weeks of lusting after tastefully done Pottery-Barn-meets-Anthropologie-meets-Home-Goods merchandise and coming to the realization that I basically have no budget for this, I’m back to square one.

Should my focal point be a series of shiny mirrors? Decorative baskets? Upcycled candlestick holders?

What is the point of all this stuff anyway?

I feel like our home should reflect who we are and what’s important to us.

Certainly, our faith is important, and it factors in more than the menorah’s placement–stuffed into the holiday box in the garage—might suggest.

How about our ketubah (marriage contract)?

Would hanging it prominently in our home be appropriate? Tasteful? Stylish? What would it say about who we are?

I understand that publically displaying a ketubah in your home is the tradition in many Jewish communities, but as one half of a second-generation interfaith marriage, I’ve never been accustomed to having many religious decorations in my home, unless it was a holiday season.

Plus, my ketubah is intimate to me. My husband and I selected the text ourselves, reflecting our interfaith marriage and our dreams for it to thrive. It is ornately framed in a square, elegantly carved dark wood frame. We proudly hang it in our bedroom, sandwiched between portraits of our two children wearing my tallit (prayer shawl) as newborns. That feels right to us.

Featuring our ketubah on the wall for every pizza delivery guy and playdate guest to see, somehow feels too personal, too private.

Keeping our ketubah upstairs, I now realize, is a function of how I feel about our family’s faith in general. Bringing it downstairs into the more public spaces we share with extended family and friends feels funny and a little foreign.

The amateur Googler and attempting-to-be-modern housewife will find very little when searching for ideas about how to decorate “Jewishly.” Aside from a very traditional (read: old world) design scheme with Shabbat candles and Israeli artifacts with the occasional Chagall thrown into the mix, I’m struggling to find Jewish decorative ideas that feel American, modern and fresh.

In a way, bringing our eclectic Jewish preferences into our home design has proven to be the ultimate American Jewish Challenge.

Maybe I am ready for the visual signs of Judaism to extend throughout our home, instead of just in certain personal places.

Surely that’s a journey that Pinterest can’t guide me on. Yet, with help from my fellow Kveller friends, I’m sure we can start something trendsetting enough to be worth a pin or two. Let’s do it!


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