Birthday Favor Bags


“When we were children we were addicted to party favor bags. At every birthday celebration we were so excited to find out what’s in the bag we received from the birthday girl or boy. Is it a whistle? Maybe a strawberry shaped eraser? And if we’re lucky really, maybe we’ll find inside a handful of gummy bears? Then we grew up and nothing remained of that sweet expectation, no more favor bags in birthday parties today.  All we get is a ‘thanks’ for the gift that cost us a fortune. Tell me, what is this life? ”

Surprise Bags from the website “Marmalada

Birthday Favor Bags

A gift to anyone who loves to be observed closely and intimately, as if s/he were a poem, given by a close relative or friend.

A cloth bag filled with a poem and a collection of items that together create a kind of “poetic identity” of the recipient.


Songs and poems that deeply touch my heart remind me of people I know. Sometimes these poems tell their story, and sometimes they embody their spirit, characteristics or beliefs.

So often, when I read a poem I wonder “to whom does this poem fit?” and when I find the answer, all I want is to gift the poem to that ‘right’ person.

What is the bag made of?

A fabric that has sentimental value, which tells a personal story, such as a favorite piece of garment, unused bed sheet from childhood, or a stained apron just before it was thrown into the trash.

And in the bag?

A text presented in two manners; the first, a quote from a poem or text chosen for the recipient. The second, the text with edits made so to fit the life story of the recipient. The poems are included as a pair, the original and edited – a double gift; one by the poet and the other from someone close who devoted himself to observe the recipient and adapt the poem accordingly. Sometimes an original text is written especially, out of nothing, for a particular person.

A material symbolizing the person and his/her life, preferences, actions, or processes and changes at certain periods in their lives. This is how Tamara received seeds of the sugar apples, Ruth a collection of dried rosebuds, Lova a bag of sand, Orly a bag of flour and Israel received a bag with a few piano keys.

Photos shot on the birthday date which commemorate the moment in which the items from the bag were collected or used.



Birthday bag for Lova Eliav

The inspiration for the bag stemmed from Lova’s personality and life’s work – a man of peace and a man of the desert. I sewed the bag from an old work shirt he used to wear in Nitzana – an educational community he founded in the Negev. The checkered cloth, faded and stained with pen marks, symbolized his life’s work, writings and thoughts.


What’s in the bag?

Two texts – the first, a quote from a poem by the poet Adonis, the second, a poem (based on the first) inspired by Lova’s achievements.


1. Quotation from “Travel guide to the forest of meaning” by Adonis:
“what is desert?
reading the sand
what is sand?
unfaltering reader of another novel:
the wind”


2.  Poem – a wish based on Adonis’s poem:
who is Lova?
man of the desert
writing in the sand
what is he writing?
unfaltering writer of one novel:
on columns,
along paths,
in the book of life.
The photos – were taken on the beach of Tel Aviv, Lova’s city of residence since he immigrated to Israel at the age of three. In the photos are Lova’s family, their feet tracing the doves’ footprints.


Sand – was collected in the morning of Lova’s 85th birthday and packed in a brown bag (like a bag of sugar). The sand symbolizes the development of the Negev Desert. The sea-sand also serves as a memory of Tanya and Lova’s meeting and love story which began at sea, on the “Ulua” ship in 1947.

A feather of a dove found that morning on the beach symbolizes Lova’s vision and realization of peace.




Photos from other birthday bags: