It’s A Prayer Shawl! It’s A Skull Cap! It’s A Tartan!

Download Audio

It’s kosher (a non wool-linen mix). It’s blue, white, red and gold. You can buy it as a prayer shawl. Or a skull cap. And of course…as a kilt. That’s right, a kilt. It's the world’s first and only officially registered authentic Jewish tartan, now available online.

It's perfect, according to the Jewish Tartan website, for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, Bat Mitzvahs, Scotch Whiskey events, Scottish & Burns nights, and more.

Conceived by Glasgow Rabbi Mendel Jacob – believed to be Scotland’s only local-born rabbi — the tartan is rife with symbolism.

Robin Young's Caldwell clan tartan. (Robin Young)
Robin Young's Caldwell clan tartan. (Robin Young)

"A tartan is a fabric design using up to six colors in bands and lines arranged at right angles to each other, and that basically is exactly what the old Celtic art form, that dates back to about 1200 BC — that's what it was then, and that's what it still is now," Brian Wilton, the Scottish Tartans Authority’s consultant and designer, who designed the Jewish tartan, told Here & Now's Robin Young.

Wilton says he chose the colors to represent important symbols in the Jewish faith: gold for the gold in the Biblical Tabernacle, silver for the Scroll of the Law, red for the Kiddush wine, and blue and white for the Israeli flag. Wilton says he's also been asked to design tartans for Muslims, Sikhs and Catholics.

"Anybody can design a tartan, but if they want to register it, it has to go through a vetting process - to make sure the name is unique, and more importantly to make sure the design is unique," he said. "They can represent their clan, their church, their university, their sports team. Tartan has a multitude of uses. As a brand, it really is unique."


This segment aired on April 7, 2016.


More from Here & Now

Listen Live