In a world full of Easter eggs, whats a Jewish scrapbooker to do

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

I’ve been involved with the artistic hobby of scrapbooking for over a decade, completed many photo albums and have several works in progress, including a heritage album of my mother’s family’s life. Remembering family history has always been important to me, and it’s something I hope to pass on to my daughter.

But that there might be challenges to being a Jewish scrapbooker never crossed my mind until I was away with a group of friends on a scrapbooking weekend (called a “crop” because that’s what you do with your photos). In a Sonoma County hotel ballroom with 70 other women — many of them moms, a few grandmothers, some single 20-somethings — we sat together at large group tables, perhaps this generation’s equivalent of a quilting bee. In a corner of the room abundant supplies for Christian holidays and ceremonies were available for purchase — I even saw baptism stickers — but nothing for Jewish traditions. Did they even exist? I wondered.

“I have a bat mitzvah page to complete,” I announced to the organizers of the weekend, who shrugged their shoulders and apologetically said they’d try to find something for next time. Jews do scrapbook, even if the scrapbook supply stores didn’t think we did.

A few years later, things have changed. At another cropping weekend, this time in Carmel, I find three-dimensional Torah scrolls. And sitting at the table right next to us, I meet Diane and Sheri from the Peninsula, with photos of latkes. While not quite a scrapbooking minyan, the three of us agree that it sure is nice to have company.

Flip through the many scrapbook magazines and they’re filled with baptisms and the Christian holidays of that season. A few Jewish-themed pages appear now and then, in recognition of a growing diverse market, but as my scrapbooking friend Diane puts it, “there’s not a lot to scraplift from.”

So I do a little research and find an online Jewish Scrapbooking club and a site called the Jewish Scrapper’s Resource with ideas and tips and shopping links. I discover Hebrew fonts to download with names like Jerusalem and Shalom. I giggle at the advice to use a Santa die cut for Noah or Moses (they both have beards, just cut the hat) and to photocopy or scan a piece of matzah for background paper.

I also visit my Berkeley scrapbook store with my daughter, where we hunt for Jewish-themed materials. A scrapbooking friend had mentioned this store carried Jewish-themed material I wouldn’t find at the art supply place where we usually shop. We pass rows of pastel-toned papers for Easter and even bonze cross embellishmentse, before my daughter spies dreidel cut-outs and menorah stickers. Chanukah’s easy, but for Tu B’Shevat we have to be creative, so we choose pine tree background paper from the camping materials — that’ll work. And Israel stickers turn up in the travel section. Perfect. But can I find anything for Passover?

I ask the woman at the cash register to point me toward more Jewish stuff. “Depends what you’re looking for,” she tells me. “We’ve got the six-pointed stars over by the Christmas stickers.” I don’t need those, so she takes us down an aisle we’ve missed. “We just got this in,” she points, and there is an entire line of Jewish scrapbooking materials — a dozen paper choices, titles and rub-on letters. We choose the Hebrew school page and another that says Bat Mitzvah, having no idea whatsoever what ones does with the purple and blue paper called “schmaltzy.” But it exists, and that makes me happy. Because Jewish scrapbooking materials used to be a rare find, if they could be found at all.

When we get home with our loot I check online for Passover scrapbooking tips. I find one, which suggests using circle-cut photos mounted on deckle-edged circle cut-outs — yes, matzah balls. The page shows an entire matzah-ball family smiling from their fluffy frames. My own page design leans toward the simple and less time-intensive, but this idea is clever and cute and my daughter will love it, so we’ll “scraplift” this one, until matzah-ball mounting circles become as commercially available as Easter egg cut-outs.

A Jewish scrapbooker can dream, can’t she?

Joanne Catz Hartman lives and writes in Oakland. She can be reached at [email protected].