Shabbat Challah Cover Buyers' Guide
A fabulous collection of Shabbat challah covers made in Israel by Yair Emanuel, Kaftor Vaferach, Malchut Yerushalayim, Art Judaica, Gamuza, ANAEL Judaica, Barbara Shaw, Ronit Gur, Dorit Judaica, Gabrieli and other Israeli challah cloth makers. Selection runs the gamut from traditional dark velvet and white brocade designs to modern challah covers in a swath of vibrant colors. Materials include velvet, cotton-polyester, terylene, raw silk, silk, organza, linen, PU leather and genuine leather.
Most of the highly popular Yair Emanuel challah covers are made from lightweight materials; for those who prefer a more substantial feel, other fabric options include velvet, cotton-polyester, linen, PU leather and leather.
VELVET CHALLAH COVERS
Velvet has been widely used by Shabbat challah cover makers for centuries. Note that a challah cover made of high-quality velvet will invariably cost more than low-cost velvet fabric. The distinction may not be very visible when viewing a product image on a screen, but on your table you will immediately see the difference in feel, appearance and durability of velvet challah cover that costs $20 compared to challah cloths priced at $30 to $60.
Also the size of a velvet challah cover has an impact on the price, since naturally the amount of material used is built into the price. A large challah cloth may make a strong impression when presented as a gift, but may not be very practical for a young couple.
Very dark navy is most commonly employed as the base color, however white challah cloths are also becoming common. Designs often incorporate traditional motifs with the words “Shabbat and Yom Tov” embroidered in Hebrew. Many velvet challah cover designers have begun adding metallic elements and quilting to embellish the embroidery work, adding a bit of flare.
Like velvet, linen offers a substantial feel and holds up well over time. Design elements and hues tend to be somewhat subtle. Earth tones are common: tan, umber, brick red, terracotta, yellow ochre, moss green, olive, burnt sienna, almond, beaver, bistre, chestnut, coyote, sepia, tawny, rust, harvest gold and mahagony.
In recent years, challah cover makers, such as ANAEL and Gamuza, have introduced leather and PU leather into their product collections. Both tend to feature much simpler designs with only two or three colors which might fall under the rubric of either classic or contemporary.
Leather and faux leather challah covers often use only two or three colors, with simplified designs enhanced by bold texture. Both materials offer durability, easy cleaning, simple elegance and a hefty feel.
Faux leather challah covers are affordably priced, water-resistant and easy to clean; genuine leather challah covers last longer than faux leather and develop patina over the course of time.
MODERN CHALLAH COVER
With raw silk challah covers, unlike leather or velvet, the main cost is the embroidery work. An attractive machine-embroidered item could cost as little as $20-$25, while more elaborate or hand-embroidery designs can increase the price to the $40-$60 range.
The leading names among Israel’s modern challah cover designers include Barbara Shaw, Dorit Judaica, Rikmat Elimelech, Jordana Klein, Ronit Gur and Avi Luvaton, but perhaps the most extensive collection and best known artisan is Yair Emanuel Judaica.
Yair Emanuel has accumulated an enormous selection of modern challah covers over decades. Common motifs include wheat sheaves, Seven Species, Jerusalem sketches, pomegranates and Oriental designs.
Ronit Gur challah covers have a modern feel, but often feature subtler designs and hues. Dorit Judaica offers a smaller selection some of which include bold colors, while a few of her designs are simplistic, with a single color on white.