Set the Stage for a
a guide to simchahs
continued from page C36
at the Historic Detroit Opera House
A handmde yad by Morris and Smith
"Our first efforts went into making beads out of specific birthday
cards, invitations and photos connected to our relatives and friends.
After getting private crafting instructions, we strung the beads together
into bracelets and gave them as gifts.
"People who saw how we turned memories into mementos inquired
about where these items could be obtained, and those inquiries gave us
incentive to turn our projects into a business."
A Special Artist
One different inquiry had more impact on Morris than any of the others.
Her son Sam, a student with special needs tutored by Smith throughout
his school years, asked if he could help by attaching the beads to the
yads, and he has been very successful. He went on to gain responsibilities
beyond the artistry.
"I also sort the beads, do the inventory and talk to customers," says
Sam, 21, who goes to services at The Shul in West Bloomfield every
Saturday. "I feel that the work we do is like a mitzvah and will prepare
me for other jobs.
"My tutor helped me learn how to do the beading, and I feel very cre-
ative. I've helped with bracelets as well as the yads, and I tell customers
our work will remind people of the greatest times in their lives."
Sam has been encouraged by Amnon Caspi, an Israeli silversmith who
devised the form for the yad. Scouted through the Web by Carolyn Morris,
Caspi explains to Sam how his own artistry expanded while coping with
the effects of polio and how that inspired him to bring artists with various
disabilities into his own studio.
"We develop each yad so that beads can be placed along the length
of them," explains Caspi, whose menorahs, candlesticks and other works
have been sold in many countries and given as dignitary gifts by the
Caspi uses a process that hollows out the silver in the center of a piece,
rendering it lighter weight and less costly. He explains that yads came
about because human hands are not supposed to touch the Torah.
"Sam and I developed a friendship over the Internet, and that has been
important," Caspi says. "It's also been important knowing that together
we're creating unique items for religious celebrations."
Smith is not Jewish, but she has come to know Judaism through the
Morris family. She has been at Shabbat dinners and larger celebrations.
"Carolyn and I became friends working with special needs youngsters,"
says Smith of Novi. "As we got the idea for the business, I found a way to
use the computer to copy photos and turn the copies into beads."
Smith, who recently designed a necklace for her sister to mark the birth
of the woman's granddaughter, takes pride in helping celebrate spiritual-
ity even though the religion is not her own.
"I like the idea of immortalizing important moments," Smith says.
Zachary, who safeguards his yad in a case, sees more to it than a
remembrance of his bar mitzvah.
"I'm glad these yads show the abilities of people with special needs
because I don't think they often get a chance to do things like this," he
says. "I'm also glad that part of the yad was made in Israel. I'd like to go
there some day."
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