Mulling my next tallit and tefillin bags purchase

Posted by Benjamin on 15th Feb 2024

If you've come to this page to read conclusive, actionable info on tallit bags -- you've come to the wrong place. This particular post is really just me thinking aloud...

Have you ever wondered why so many tallit bags have the word טלית embroidered on them, and how come so many tefillin bags have the word תפילין embroidered on them? Well, I have. After all, isn't it obvious?

Not all tallit bags say 'Tallit'

It certainly is obvious with the age-old standard velvet tallit bags. There's not much ambiguity or guesswork involved. The only time you might need help would be if you have two sets of tefillin, Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam.

I have a hunch that outside of Israel, many people just like seeing Hebrew letters on their bag.

In a similar vein, what about name embroidery? Do you really need it? There is something nice about getting a personalized gift, so when given to a groom, name embroidery is almost a given. But let’s say you’ve been married for ten years, and need a new set of tallit and tefillin bags. Do you need name embroidery?

There are a few fringe benefits. I have a horrible memory for names, so sometimes I take advantage of the name embroidery: if I want to speak with someone in shul whose name I really should remember, but can’t, sometimes I’ll sidle up close to surreptitiously steal a glance at the name embroidery on the tallit bag.

If your gabbai has a bad memory, you’d be doing him a service by having your aliyah name (e.g. Eliezer Tzvi ben Nachum David HaLevy) on your bag, in case he needs a reminder.

Despite my faulty memory, I know exactly where my tallis and tefillin bags are at almost all times, day and night. For teenagers the situation might be quite different. I have printed stickers with my name, phone number and address on the plastic covers of my tefillin, just in case, but since teenagers are more prone to misplace their tallit/tefillin, it’s advisable to have their name printed on the tefillin bag as well.

Here’s a small irony: We get a lot of orders to have the full name printed on the tallit bag and just the initials on the tefillin bag, though the tefillin could easily cost ten times more than the tallit.

Large canvas tallit/tefillin case

All of the above applies largely to traditional velvet tallit/tefillin bags. But the times they are a-changin. Nowadays many people (including me) are switching to genuine leather or faux leather tallit/tefillin bags. Personally, I’m a big fan of stiffer bags that don’t require a nylon cover.

The design, especially from the outside, is often quite similar to laptop bags. In fact, you’ll now find various tallit stores and Judaica stores that sell tallit/tefillin sets that are actually just laptop bags which they purchased from a standard manufacturer and embossed the word Tallit on it to make it recognizable as a tallit carrier. In fact, sometimes they don’t even bother. And this week I found myself in a Shacharit minyan not my own, and noticed that a lot of the congregants bring their tallit, tefillin, siddur, etc. in regular canvas briefcases.

Let’s say you want a larger case of that sort, but want a visible indication that it’s for your tallit and tefillin. How about this idea: embroider the word שחרית on the bag? I’ve never come across that.

At this point, I’m still undecided, so I’m not quite ready for my next tallit and tefillin bag purchase.