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Haute cohen couture

by ben July 22 2008
NewsArchaeologyArt

Runway is old hat
When some Jerusalemites talk about the apocalypse, men in white coats come and take them away. When others do the same, the masses take out their credit cards and clamor to buy white coats from them. It's all in the pitch.

The redemption-minded Jews at the Old City's Temple Institute have been hard at work for over 20 years now, preparing replicas of the vessels from the ancient place of worship that once stood on the Temple Mount. Using rabbinic and Biblical teachings as their guides, the team's creations do not hold mere nostalgic value – they're meant for use in the messianic age, when believers say the Third Temple will be built. But they haven't just brought to life the Menorah (the symbol that we know and love from the seal of the State of Israel) and the Ark of the Covenant (the symbol that we know and love from that Indiana Jones movie).

According to a recent Associated Press feature, the Temple Institute has hand-sewn a full set of priestly garments at costs exceeding $10,000. Apparently interest among the general public has grown, because now, according to the article, "If you are a descendant of the Jewish priestly class, a full outfit, including an embroidered belt 32 cubits (48 feet) long, can be yours for about $800." It's a bargain, but a far cry from the wholesale Tel Aviv factory version seen here.

The Temple Institute managed to bring down costs by obtaining special rabbinic permission to use sewing machines.

"From the moment we see we're ready here, the clothes will be ready and the priests can get to work when the time comes," said Hagai Barashi, an assistant tailor. He wore a Biblical-looking robe, long sidelocks, and a pair of Nike flip-flops.

Illustrative painting of Second Temple priests accepting pilgrims' sacrifices courtesy of The Temple Institute, which can be reached at 02-626-4545 and visited at Misgav Ladach St. 36.

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