Temma Gentles
Posted: Jan 8th, 2020 | Volunteering

Volunteer for 14 years

December’s volunteer interview is with library volunteer and former treasurer for the Board of the Volunteer Association, Temma Gentles. A volunteer since 2003, Temma is part our group of volunteers at the Museum’s H.N. Pullar Library. We sat down with Temma to find out more about experience at the Museum as well as her work as a professional textile artist specializing in commissions for religious institutions.


How did you start at the Museum?

TG: I started at the museum around 2003… I’ve got my 10 year pin. I started on the front desk and I quite liked that. It was interesting to meet people from all over and to find out why they were coming to the Museum. I asked for the library position next because, in fact, I’d always wanted to be a librarian who inspires people to read – a young people’s librarian. So in a way, being in the library has fulfilled one of my older ambitions.

Tell me about the H.N. Pullar Library.

TG: I think the library is a great resource! The curators know the library’s catalogue and they come and help themselves, but I’d love the library to be better known by educational institutions and programs as well as the general public who visit. We have books for sale that were donated to the Volunteer Association, and we get people in here who will stay for quite a long time going through the boxes.

Something most people don’t realize is that the catalogue is online now! People don’t have to come to the Museum to know whether we have something that they might find interesting.


Temma, tell me about Torah Stitch-by-Stitch

From torahstitchbystitch.org
“Torah Stitch-by-Stitch honours the Five Books of Moses (Pentateuch) through the timeless medium of cross-stitch, a basic textile tradition in many cultures. Participants from numerous national, linguistic and spiritual backgrounds – regardless of gender or craft skill – are joining hands and hearts to stitch 1463 individual panels of the Torah in Hebrew, 4 verses at a time.” The exhibition is on view at Congregation Darchei Noam, 864 Sheppard Avenue West, Toronto. Guided tours: Tuesdays 3pm & 6pm, Sundays 3pm. Admission is free. Group tours may be arranged in advance by contacting tsbstours@gmail.com

TG: I came up with the idea while on sabbatical in Israel in 2012. I wanted to encourage people of all cultures and faiths to engage with sacred texts through cross-stitch.  I didn’t know how many people would adopt the project, but we “went viral” and have grown to over 1,600 participants in 23 countries. A good portion of our stitchers have never done cross-stitch, and few of them know Hebrew. We are almost finished stitching the Torah and are working on sections from the Gospels in Greek, and the Qur’an in Arabic exploring the theme of Creation. The entire assembled book of Genesis is on exhibition through December 2017. The guided tours, which continue until December 19, 2017, give profound and heart-warming insights into the project and participants. After December 19, guided tours are available by appointment only; please check the website for more information.

Do you still need stitchers?

TG: Yes! We’re on the last 200 sections out more than 1,500 and we are assembling the completed book of Exodus. We would love to have people sign up.  Registration information and close-ups of many panels are on the website.

Thank you Temma!

Read more about Torah Stitch-by-Stitch on the National Post:The stitched Torah: Toronto tapestry project inspires volunteers from around the world | August 11, 2017 | by Alison Broverman

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