MASKerade: Innovation and altruism in times of coronavirus

The stories behind the masks.

Noa Helinger (photo credit: Courtesy)
Noa Helinger
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Magazine asked people of all stripes to share photos of their homemade masks and the stories behind them. We were overwhelmed with stories of innovation and the altruism of people helping other people stay safe. 
Kim Bash
I live in the Old City. This was in the beginning of corona outbreak when we were on lockdown, could not really leave the Old City and nobody was selling them. Now all the local makolets sell them. I cut up an old apron and the ties are from old tights, which worked well, as they are stretchy! I did not have a sewing machine or cotton and thread so I used a stapler.
Kim BashKim Bash
Hannah Beiner
I made this in the early days of the lockdown and already there was a shortage of protective gear. I made two, both reversible with a filter sewn in. Also, why not be fun as well?
Hannah BeinerHannah Beiner
Marilyn Broder
The rabbi of the religious council called me more than a month ago to inform me that I needed to be quarantined. Five nights earlier, a woman came to the mikva and had now just received confirmation that she tested positive for COVID-19. Since I was on duty that night, I needed to separate from the rest of my family, including my 95-year old mother, who lives in an apartment 20 feet away from us. I was told that had I been wearing a mask at that time, I would not have needed to be in quarantine.
After spending 10 days in my “sealed room” and watching all those videos about corona, especially the one with the woman from the Czech Republic telling the world how effective the masks are, I decided to sew a bunch of masks on my last day of being in quarantine.
I decided that since I would be going back to work and I did not want this situation to happen again, I would be wearing a mask whenever I went out, even before it was mandatory to wear a mask in public. There was quite a high outbreak of corona in our yishuv.
I can match my masks to my outfits, my hat, etc. – a real fashion statement for our times!
Marilyn BroderMarilyn Broder
Avigayil and Meir Bunder
I made these from a tablecloth we used every year for Yom Ha’Atzmaut. We always have a big celebration in our backyard and invite all our friends and neighbors. Every year, I take a photo of all my grandchildren together wearing matching blue and white t-shirts. This year we will have matching masks! And no friends over to celebrate.
Avigayil and Meir BunderAvigayil and Meir Bunder
Lisa Cain
The photo is my daughter and my grandchildren. When it became clear that we ought to be wearing masks, I alternately sewed masks for the entire family and cleaned for Pesach. I did have to do some experimenting until I found the simplest and best-fitting pattern, a hybrid of some that were posted on the Internet. While I sewed, I listened to all sorts of podcasts as everyone was so confused and frightened. The kids posed for me with their masks on, made from scraps – with a pocket for all the coffee filters I found while cleaning for the holiday. They’re finally finding some use! The end of facial recognition.
Lisa CainLisa Cain
Tova Cern
At my company SiMedic Trauma (, I develop learning materials and medical simulation tools for emergency response teams. In our studio, I create realistic wearable wounds and effects to help the teams practice emergency care in a realistic setting. Since I moved the studio to my home, I have access to, shall we say, unusual props and materials. The call to “make masks from things you have lying around the house” inspired these, literally made from scraps in about 15 minutes.
Tova CernTova Cern
Rini Gonsher
I made one out of a paper towel and then I bought them from the pharmacy. Here I am in a United Airlines sleepshade!
Rini GosherRini Gosher
Judi Granit
At the beginning of the crisis, I made masks for myself, my family – and most importantly, for my book club friends. Haifa has the longest running English-speaking book club in the country and some of the members are quite elderly, so for them, having masks is very important.
Since then, friends have all asked for masks, so now I am making them to order and letting them choose their fabric, I also deliver. I sell them, which has been fantastic for us, as my husband, a self-employed Alexander Technique teacher, has had no work and no income since the crisis began. It really helps to have this little income and it’s a win-win situation, as I love to sew and people like my masks.
Judi GranitJudi Granit
Noa Helinger
I design wedding dresses in my studio in Givatayim with color and embroidery and, because of the situation, I thought to make a sale – buy a dress and get a mask in the same style as the dress for free. You don’t have to be a bride to buy one. Everyone will need to go out with masks, so I thought, why not make it cheerful and not depressing, just wearing a blue hospital mask? This makes it fun.
Noa HelingerNoa Helinger
Sarah Jordan
I am a new immigrant who lives alone, and I wasn’t sure where I could get a mask, but I knew I needed one in order to leave the house to buy groceries. I hand-sewed this mask in a couple of hours with what I had lying around. The outside was from a skirt that I had originally hand-sewn out of a donated dress, and the inside lining was left over from some cushion covers I had hand-sewn a year ago. The ribbons were leftover from a Pesach gift I received. Everything was a little recycled and loved, but made something functional and beautiful.
Sarah JordanSarah Jordan
Elana Langer
I hand-beaded this before Passover. It is a dove of inner peace beaded in the Annishenabek/Ojibway/Métis indigenous style of beading that I learned during my time on Lake Superior.
Elana LangerElana Langer
Gaby Levi
First, I saw a YouTube on the low rate of corona in the Czech Republic, saying it was because they all wore masks. Then, on the night Netanyahu stated we should always wear masks, as he finished talking, I took a tea towel and fashioned this mask, sewing it by hand with a rounded piece to go under my chin and elastic ear straps - and lined it with a bit of old t-shirt. Afterward, lots of YouTube videos came out explaining much quicker and easier ways to make a mask!
Gaby LeviGaby Levi
Masha Levine
I made this mask from scrap fabric that I had lying around after I’d finished sewing a wrap top. I’m a fashion designer. At first it was just for a laugh, and then we had to start wearing masks seriously. The fabric is a funky Frieda Kahlo print that I found on Nahalat Binyamin in Tel Aviv.
Masha LevineMasha Levine
Debbie Miller
This is my daughter, Mindy, who lives in Baka. I made Mindy this mask because we suffer from OOD in our family (Obsessive Originality Disorder). Okay, true this mask is not so original, it’s pretty simple – a rectangle of fabric, two ponytail holders and a few stitches... but who has time for more? We are too busy doing nothing!
It had to be purple because that is Mindy’s favorite color. She picked the fabric from my large collection that I have been saving for the quilt I plan to make one day. You would think now would be a great time to start, but then I would have to give up on doing nothing.
Mindy is working from home, but since she doesn’t have a car, I wanted to make sure she has a stylish mask for when she walks to do grocery shopping and when she goes to walk her elderly neighbor’s dog a few times a week.
Mindy MillerMindy Miller
Yael Resnick
As an artist, my way is to make something and help my family feel productive in making a change in the world. I put my work projects aside (no printers or framers are open anyway). I told my kids to stop with the multiplication tables, reading comprehension questions and Zoom lessons.
Our country has a shortage of masks. We learned about the materials a mask needs in order to be safe. We researched the differences between a hospital worker mask and what is suitable enough for a regular civilian. We asked for donations of old sheets and elastic (in 5 minutes we had what we needed!), cut fabric, sewed, ironed, snipped threads. We became a mask factory.
Most of our early masks were claimed by friends and neighbors. We asked for a NIS 5 donation per mask that will be donated toward an amazing initiative to bring N95 masks to hospitals in Israel. 
We have made about 200 masks so far. It was a family endeavor. Then my sewing machine broke, so we are on a break now.
Yael ResnickYael Resnick
Rena Schaum
My husband, Murray, and I have great masks courtesy of our daughter, Devorah Freedman, who made them (triple-layered and hand-sewn) from fabric she had at home. Devorah is an art therapist who learned her new skill when she wanted to protect her husband, Avidan, during his shopping and other errands. This was at least a week before wearing masks was mandatory. Devorah then offered to make them for her sisters, their families, and us and she gave us great fabric choices. Fun!
Rena SchaumRena Schaum
Dvorah Shoushan
I’m a single mom and with the corona crisis, I lost my job. Thank God there’s a lot of hessed around here and we have everything we need. I wanted to be part of it, but didn’t know what to do exactly. I can’t help others financially. I don’t really have spare time, as I have four of my children home.
I saw a message asking people to sew masks. Also, a dear friend of mine died a few weeks ago and, with another friend, we were trying to find what to do in her memory. I was thinking of a gemach, something that would be helpful.
She was always soft-spoken, always trying to help people without embarrassing them, always trying to see the good in everything, always talking of everybody as if they were the most extraordinary person. And suddenly I realised I could sew masks in her memory. She had given me sets of sheets, lovely fabric and there was one sheet we didn’t use because the size didnt fit. It was new, strong fabric. Perfect for masks.
Dvorah ShoushanDvorah Shoushan
Johnny and Dorothy Silver
I saw Ruth Lenk, an artist and quilter, offering to donate a mask for every one she sells. Since I don’t have a credit card to have it shipped to me, she so kindly offered to deliver two masks to my home in Netanya for cash payment. She messaged examples of fabric so that I could choose what I wanted. My husband and I love our bright masks with a wire insert to fit comfortably and safely over the nose.
Johnny and Dorothy SilverJohnny and Dorothy Silver
Natalie Sopinsky
There’s a woman on our yishuv who makes clothes. I saw her wearing a homemade mask way back early in the corona crisis. I reached out to this dressmaker and asked her if she was making masks. Originally she said no, but agreed to make them for my family of seven for NIS 10 each.
We aren’t what you would call friends, but I know she is talented. I got NIS 70 and ran to her house as soon as they were ready. I was very proud of myself for being so pushy. I make videos for Rescuers Without Borders and the masks are so beautiful I’ve worn them at the beginning of each video. The mask is dramatic.
Natalie SopinskyNatalie Sopinsky
Marianne Tanzer
How did we land in line at Rami Levy, a few days before Passover wearing pirate-themed bandanas around our face? The story begins with an under-the-wire trip to see my dad in LA in February. As I was planning to return home just before Purim, I ordered the easiest and most compact costume I could think of: pirate bandanas. We wore them for the holiday, enjoyed them and then stashed them away.
Fast forward a few weeks, and we are in the throes of corona. My son Ori, being an avid reader and news junkie, begged me to venture out each day to get a newspaper. He noticed a DIY article on face masks and cut it out. Cute, I thought, but will it ever really go that far? The article was set aside just like the bandanas.
Fast forward a few days or weeks more (who can remember time accurately any longer?), and Passover was fast approaching. However, my giant Shufersal order was nowhere to be seen. I had no choice but to gear up and go to Rami Levy. With two carts to push, I could not go alone, and so Ori joined me. We grabbed our pirate bandanas, looped them on per the newspaper instructions, and set off to Rami Levy. This is how one evening, I stood outside the grocery store in line with my son, dressed like a bandit.
Marianne TanzerMarianne Tanzer
Rachel Wanetik
My husband, Ezra, has been wearing Hawaiian shirts since his maternal grandfather gifted him one in the early 90s. He even wore a silk one to the chuppah. Most of Ez’s shirts are made in Hawaii – all cotton, one pocket, with coconut shell buttons, and at least three colors.
A few were showing signs of wear and tear. At first, I dressed pillows with them and propped them on the couch. Then the virus demanded we wear masks. So I dropped off one shirt at Buzz & Luna, masterfully run by Bayla Lewis, and now the whole family breathes easier.
Rachel WanetikRachel Wanetik
Michele Wechsler
I decided that I needed a special mask for Yom Ha’Atzmaut and didn’t want to leave home to look for it, so I got out my grandchildren’s markers and made my own.
Michele WechslerMichele Wechsler
Anne Chana Weiss
I collect owls. My daughter found this mask in Modi’in, where she lives, and then went looking for a way to get it to me in Elazar. The parents and brother of an elementary school friend still live in Kfar Etzion. During this time of coronavirus, the brother is selling Kfar Etzion flowers in Modi’in on Fridays. He brought the mask to Elazar on his way back and I have been proudly wearing it ever since!
Anne Chana WeissAnne Chana Weiss

Tags Masks