LunchBreak with Meilich Sandel from SMA Embroidery

Around this time of the year, it is customary in many shuls to switch the paroches to a white one for the Yomim Nora’im. If you are davening in a shul in the tri-state area and the paroches was made recently, there is a good chance that the paroches was made by Meilich Sandel.

SMA is a unique family business, and Meilich works together with his father every day. Embroidery is his passion, and having made thousands of ornamental coverings, including for sifrei Torah, tallis and tefillin bags, and more, Meilich enjoys coming up with new designs meant to embody “zeh Keili v’anveihu.”

“I was born in Monroe and attended Satmar yeshivos growing up. I’m number ten of 12 children.

My father had an embroidery factory. He made custom tallis and tefillin bags from raw material and created each bag from scratch; he also made mantels for sifrei Torah and the paroches as well.

“My father’s factory was in the basement of our home. After cheder, I would often go downstairs to see what’s going on and to schmooze with the workers. 

“We children helped out as much as we could. Cutting the extra threads that are left on the top after an embroidery job was my favorite task. Or sometimes we would help glue crystals on bags. 

“I went to a an out-of-town yeshivah, Tosh in Montreal. My father was very close with the Tosher Rebbe zt”l and he made several unique items for the Rebbe, zt”l

“My father had some 40 different designs and he worked with all of the sefarim stores throughout the tri-state area. They would take their customer’s order and either call or fax in their orders to us. Thursday was delivery day, when my father would go around to all the stores to deliver the ready-made items.

“My father would come home on Thursday with story books, so Thursday night was always a good night in our home. 

“When I got married and started looking for work, I first started working as a messenger driver. Part of the job is talking to clients all day on the phone. I got one too many tickets for talking on the phone even when I wasn’t talking on the phone. I am hard of hearing and it was difficult for me to find a good headset. 

“I was pulled over by a cop and he told me my license is suspended; I could have been arrested. It was then that I said to myself; I don’t see this as a job for me anymore. I don’t want a a future sitting on the road. 

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