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What is Origami?
Origami, a word of Japanese origin, is the art of folding paper. It is both an ancient and a very new art—many models have been around for hundreds of years, while new ones are being created all the time. Origami paper is usually colored on one side and white on the other. Most people who do origami follow hese rules: You must start with a square, and you must not cut the paper. Yet despite these restrictions, there is no limit to what can be represented using origami--objects, people, plants, animals, even mountains and seas.
What is Jewish Origami?
Origami and Judaism? At first, you might not think that the two are related. In fact, not only are they related, but origami can even enhance your experience of Judaism, and vice versa. Here are some examples:
A mitzvah in Judaism is something we are obligated to do, such as lighting Chanukah candles. If we go beyond the obligation by making the experience more beautiful, such as when we use an especially attractive Chanukah menorah, we are following the principle of hiddur mitzvah, or enhancing of the mitzvah. When you make origami to decorate your holiday tables to make them more festive, you are following the principle of hiddur mitzvah.
In Judaism, you'll find many stories that fill in the gaps between the episodes in the Bible. These stories are called midrashim, and they often emphasize a particular aspect of a biblical character's personality. Origami is like a midrash—it emphasizes a particular aspect of a subject. For example, paperfolders around the world have created many different kinds of origami elephants, each emphasizing a different feature of the animal. Some highlight the animal's trunk, others its tusks, while others focus on its big floppy ears. When you create an origami model, you are, in a way, making a midrash about your subject.
Akira Yoshizawa was a Japanese origami master who devoted his life to studying nature, and creating origami models of what he observed. He noticed how plants grew and how animals moved, and the models he created are filled with life. Among other things, Yoshizawa taught that we should have great respect for nature. Judaism, too, teaches us to respect nature. For example, according to the Torah, we should let the land rest one year out of every seven, and on the holiday of Tu B'Shvat we are encouraged to plant trees and enjoy their fruits. When you have appreciation for nature, you not only honor Judaism, you also put yourself in the best frame of mind for doing origami.
How this Book is Organized
The models appear in the book by level of experience required, from beginner to advanced. The Table of Contents lists them in this order, as well as by order of Jewish holiday. In the Additional Resources section at the back you'll find books and Web sites for more models, sources for origami paper, and origami organizations.
Tips for Success
The folding sequences are broken down into small steps so that you'll be able to follow along, even if you've never done origami before. Make sure you review the diagramming symbols described on the next page. Fold patiently and accurately, always checking the next step to see the result of the move. Fold the beginner models first, then try your hand at the intermediate and advanced ones. The main thing is not to be discouraged. If your results don't match the picture, set the model aside and try again later. With each attempt, you'll get closer to the goal.
I hope you have as much fun folding the models in this book as I had creating them. Feel free to change them as you like, or even create your own!
Excerpted from Jewish Holiday Origami by JOEL STERN, David Greenfield. Copyright © 2006 Joel Stern. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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