Did it seem like an abnormally long winter to you? While the holidays and first snowfalls can be exciting, the warmer weather and longer days have been a long time coming. Jewish Gift Place wishes everyone a very happy Memorial Day weekend!
Of course, we can’t forget the real reason America began celebrating Memorial Day; to honor all the men and women who have died while serving in the Armed Forces. The tradition began shortly after the Civil War, to play homage to both Union and Confederate soldiers. Other traditions to celebrate the occasion are visiting military cemeteries, lowering the American flag to half mast, and public eulogies for the fallen men and women. Jewish Gift Place joins the nation in commemorating the spirit of all those who have lost their lives in the fight for America’s freedom!
On the lighter side of things, Memorial Day is often marked with barbecues, beach visits, and parades through town squares. The oldest recorded parade for Memorial Day was in 1868, in Ironton, Ohio. Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May. Because of the timing of the day, the celebrations grew to include the unofficial start of summer.
Jewish Gift Place hopes everyone has a happy, safe weekend. Here’s hoping the weather stays nice for your plans and that the beginning of this new season is a welcomed change.
Jewish Gift Place is proud to showcase the work of the artist team, husband and wife, Kevin and Deborah Healy. Healy Designs creates beautiful kaleidoscope jewelry. The miniature working kaleidoscopes are a feat of engineering. It is amazing to think of the craftsmanship that goes into the delicate designs. A kaleidoscope necklace is a gift that is sure to impress anyone.
As the designers point out, “the swirling colors and patterns of kaleidoscopes have enabled us to add a new dimension to how our jewelry may be enjoyed.” Kevin and Deborah have won several awards for their jewelry and have been featured in shows and magazines throughout the world. Since the early 1990′s, Healy Designs has sought the youthful joy of color patterns and the glimmering, glowing light of a kaleidoscope. Their designs offer an air of whimsy and a reminder of childhood innocence that can be carried with you wherever you go.
Another of the Healy’s pieces is a compass necklace. The working silver compass, with a Star of David charm, is the perfect gift for the recent graduate! Inscribed with the words “Follow your Heart,” this necklace will be a reminder to the recipient that we all need help directing our lives and when faced with a decision, to follow our hearts. For the Bar or Bat Mitzvah guy or girl, or the music lover in your family, Healy Designs has created a working harmonica necklace! Also adorned with a Star of David pendant, this mini instrument can actually play one octave!
View the other unique designs featured on Jewish Gift Place. We’ve organized most occasions to make your shopping experience as easy as possible! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for other great gift ideas and sign up to receive our weekly newsletters. Artists like the Healy’s and our other best-sellers are featured with their designs on our blog and website.
Bar and Bat Mitzvahs have drastically changed in the last several years! Everything is bigger and grander in scale. However, this does not change the importance and solemnity of the event. Respond with a gift that commemorates that special day!
If you are the parent of the honored boy or girl, there are a few important reminders that writer Nancy Sokoler Steiner points out to help keep perspective on the day:
- “Your child is not having a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, he/she is becoming one… A Jewish child automatically becomes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah upon coming of age, but by having a ceremony, you affirm your family’s link to those who have come before, and those yet to be.”
- For the service, give it the attention it deserves. Your mind may be focused on party logistics, but the ceremony is the reason for the celebration.
- Let your child’s interests be the guide to the celebration.
- Be organized and prepared! “Check with your temple for important meetings…(and) For the day of the Bar Mitzvah, have a list of all the things you need to bring with you, including tallit, kippot and speeches.
- Most important: Enjoy the day!
As a guest at a Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration, especially a non-Jewish guest, you may feel overwhelmed finding a gift. Money is acceptable (read our article The Meaning of the Hebrew Word, “Chai,” to learn why a money gift in multiples of 18 is popular), but why not stand out with something more personal? This Island Cowgirl Star of David necklace is gender neutral. In either sterling silver or bronze with a leather strap, this modern, fun piece is stylish and a reminder of their heritage. Similarly, the Cynthia Gale Chai necklace on leather rope is cool reminder of their Mitzvah day. Engraved with “To Life” on the back, the design is based on elements of the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem.
For the young ladies, these traditional necklaces offer a bit of elegance to celebrate her womanhood. Designer Angie Olami depicts Biblical stories through her jewelry. This pomegranate necklace, with garnet stone, is from the “images of Galilee” collection. She can also celebrate her heritage with a Hebrew nameplate necklace. In either sterling silver or gold, these pieces are literally one of a kind, designed for your special girl!
Browse through all our other Bar and Bat Mitzvah gifts for wonderful ideas. As always, sign up to receive our weekly newsletters for sales and promoted items! And follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for more ideas for a perfect the Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration! Mazel Tov!
One of our newest artists, Anju was born in India, in the state of Rajasthan. She immigrated to the United States and began her jewelry business in 1993. Inspired by the beauty of her home country and her new home in Atlanta, Georgia, her work depicts the symbols of traditional Judaism in natural metals and materials.
Rajasthan is the largest state in India and is located in the north, bordering on Pakistan. Most of the northwest is uninhabitable desert. One of the world’s oldest mountain ranges, The Aravalli Range, separates the desert from the southeast region, where the weather is more hospitable. Most notably, Rajasthan is known for its rich cultural and natural artwork. Crafts from natural materials are injected with bright colors. Spirituality takes a front seat in early paintings and this style continues in the work of Anju.
Though Anju’s pieces are hand-crafted with meticulous details, they are also affordable! Earthy enough to be worn every day, Anju’s jewelry can also dress up an evening outfit. The simple Hamsa bracelet, in pewter, copper, and antique silver, looks like an artifact from an ancient tribe. The belief of protection by the ancient symbol and its elegant simplicity allows for the bracelet to be worn every day. Similar designs come in copper, as well, and as necklaces and earrings. Other Jewish symbols, like the Tree of Life, the Dove on a Branch, and the Star of David are crafted in India in similar materials. (Necklace and earring come as a set.)
Saying I Love You with a Traditional Jewish Gift
Mother’s Day will be here in 2-1/2 weeks! Why not surprise Mom this year with a piece from our Jewish Mother Collection?
Recently, celebrities of all religions have been seen wearing evil eye jewelry. Believed to ward off evil spirits, these beautiful items are both visually stunning and spiritually connected. They are perfectly in trend with Spring fashion. Mom will think she’s as fashionable as Jennifer Aniston or Kim Kardashian. Israeli artist Michal Golan works with semi-precious stones and Swarovski crystals to create beautiful pieces that can be worn for any occasion!
Perhaps for a new mom, buy the Mother, Father, Baby mezuzah. This handcrafted Emily Rosenfeld pewter design is a wonderful gift for a mother celebrating the beginning of her new family. For the mother with a flourishing family, let her proudly display an Aimee Golant Tree of Life Shin necklace in sterling silver. Located in the branches of the tree is the letter “Shin,” the intricate detail and beauty hide a deeper meaning. And what better way is there to say thank you to the mom who has done everything for you than an “Ocean of Gratitude” necklace by artist Gisele Theriault of the Barber’s Daughters. Engraved on a sterling silver scroll is the heartfelt thank you along with a Star of David pendant. All of these beautiful pieces will let Mom know just how special she is.
A unique item that we offer is a set of bookends with the poem, A Woman of Valor. The marble plaques are surrounded by metal, framing the Woman of Valor. The inspiring words will warm any mother’s heart.
“A woman of valor, who can find? For her price is far above rubies.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, And the law of kindness is on her tongue.
Her children rise up, and call her blessed, Her husband also, and he praises her.”
Jewish Wedding Rings: Symbols and Traditions
The Jewish wedding ring symbolizes the eternal love shared between and husband and wife. Not just a sign to the world that this man and this woman are spoken for, but that their love has no beginning and no end. In Judaism, the circle represents gaining insight and wisdom when faced with the same experience over and over. As a man gifts the ring to his wife, they vow to continue to grow in faith and love, adding to the link with family.
The traditional Jewish wedding band may have begun as a simple gold ring, but today more flashy designs have come into fashion. Engravings, jewels and other types of metals are seeing a rise in popularity. Despite these changes, all the Jewish wedding rings featured on Jewish Gift Place still retain a sense of tradition and hold a special meaning.
The most popular rings are rose gold and inscribed with the words from the Song of Solomon, like “I Am My Beloved’s and My Beloved is Mine,” and “I Have Found the One my Soul Loves.” For the Yonatan collection rings, you can choose your gemstones. The Jewish wedding rings come in 14K gold, sterling silver, or rose gold (formed by adding copper to the gold). All rings are custom made by artists in Israel and Philadelphia, PA. Since the rings are handmade and made to order, please allow 4-6 weeks to make your custom ring.
Visit our website to read about other important elements of the Jewish wedding. If you have been invited to a Jewish wedding ceremony, and have never been to one before, we have a couple of brief articles on what to expect, what music you may hear, and what you wear. We also have an extensive collection of traditional wedding gifts!
Check in with us on Twitter and Facebook for fun facts and examples of Jewish weddings around the world! Don’t forget to sign up for our weekly newsletters, highlighting new artists, sales and trends.
We are very excited to introduce you to a new artist, Nilson de Assis, of Nef Judaica, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nilson creates jewelry and handmade Jewish items from metals and semiprecious stones. The hallmark of Nilson’s Nef Judaica collection are gorgeous natural stones, beautiful designs, immaculate workmanship, detail and quality.
Nilson began crafting his works nearly 20 years ago. Inspired by the beauty of his daughter, Nilson saw his artwork not only as a way to honor her youth and charm, but as a means of providing her with an education. His work is sold all over the world.
Nilson works mainly with alpaca silver. This metal alloy is a combination of metals, including copper and nickel. This type of metal became popular in European designs in the 18th century as a substitute for sterling silver. Because it is so malleable, alpaca silver is ideal in jewelry design. Nilson adorns his Judaica with colorful stones and crystals, creating unique pieces that are easy to care for. Most pieces can easily be cleaned with mild soap or lemon juice and will stay in your family for generations.
At Jewish Gift Place, we sell Nilson’s exquisite Judaica, like mezuzahs, dreidels and Kiddush cups. All of the featured pieces are hand-crafted in silver or brass. All prominently feature natural crystals, like amethyst or citrine, or stones like haulita or malaquite. Not only will this art become a centerpiece of your home, but the spiritual nature in its creation will bless you and your family.
Everyone at Jewish Gift Place wishes all our readers and customers a very safe and happy holiday! Feel free to share your Passover stories, recipes, and pictures in the comments section. We’d love to hear about your traditions and what makes your Seder meal so special. If your family can be a bit much to bear, try these ways to liven up your Passover holiday. After all, it is a celebration and we should be having fun! For many families, though, being together is not an option. New technological advances have changed the way we bond over a meal together.
Teaching the story of Passover is one of the most important traditions of the holiday. Here are some quick links to help you inform your non-Jewish friends or youngsters in the family what makes this holiday so special:
- 13 Things You Need to Know for Passover 2013
- 5 Passover Books for Kids
- Why Unleavened Bread is So Important
Feel free to visit the website, Jewishgiftplace.com for all your Passover gifts. It’s never too early to plan for next year’s holidays!
While it may be too late to plan a Passover vacation only a few days before the holiday, it is never too early to plan for next year’s festivities. Many find Passover an ideal time to get away and celebrate the beginning of the spring season. In fact, trends have shown that many families want all the traditions of a typical Passover meal, but on a grander scale. If any of these ideas sound ideal to you, start saving your money for next year’s holiday!
- In Arizona, the Biltmore has over 1,000 reservations for a VIP Passover experience. Guests can enjoy spa accommodations, kosher cuisine, Children’s programs, and Torah learning experiences. The program is designed to be beautiful and meaningful for your family.
- After a slump in Jewish tourism, Israel is seeing a resurgence of pilgrimages during the Passover holiday. For families all over the world, the Holy Land continues to be a source of spiritual enlightenment. Newer resorts cater to modern families’ desires while maintaining old-world traditions.
- New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras, a Christian tradition celebrating the beginning of Lent, a time of fasting and repentance. However, there is an emerging Jewish culture in the post-Katrina city. This city of blended French, African, and southern traditions is seeing a surge in Jewish tourists, and welcomes them with open arms!
- If you aren’t lucky enough to travel during the holidays, new cooking classes, better quality wines, and even in-home chef services are available to make your at-home Passover Seder as decadent as you wish.
If you are building new traditions for your family’s Passover, begin with beautiful plates and wine goblets. Learn the stories of Miriam and Elijah’s cup, the Seder plate, and why matzah is so important to the Passover meal. Despite trends leading to grander scale Passover celebrations, this is, most importantly, a time to spend with family and honor the customs of thousands of years.
Read about my family’s traditions and recipes! Hosting a Seder can be stressful, but many hands in the kitchen make for light work, and singing does make the work seem worth it. Feel free to offer advice, recipes, and fond memories of Passovers past in the comments section!
Artist Michael Bromberg
Michael Bromberg is one of the first artists I added to the Jewish Gift Place collection almost 6 years ago, and one of my very favorite artists. His unique pieces beautifully incorporate Jewish symbolism and modern jewelry into a magnificent award-winning Judaica collection. The mezuzah pendants in silver and gold are very popular and have the first line of the Shema inside a waterproof glass tube. Receive free shipping on all Michael Bromberg jewelry through 1/18/13. Use coupon code MB.
Jerusalem in the Snow!
Did you see the beautiful photos of Jerusalem covered in snow? My mother-in-law sent this link to me last Thursday. Since I was just in Jerusalem in June 2012, these pictures brought back wonderful memories.
(Photo 1 Credit: EPA Photo 2 Credit: Flash 90)
The Ayalon Institute
I am very excited to tell you about a new article that I wrote, “The Modesty and Valor of the Ayalon Institute.” It is the fascinating true story of 45 young people who risked their lives to make bullets in a clandestine underground factory in their effort to help Israel in the years before it was declared a state. Equally fascinating was learning about the very beginnings of how the Ayalon Institute came to be, with discussions as early as 1929 on the need to arm the Jewish people who lived in Israel. Below is an excerpt from the article:
“The Ayalon Institute was a dangerous top secret operation that took place from 1945 to 1948 that produced over 2.25 million bullets in a clandestine underground factory, built not far from the British who ruled the area. Passionate, dedicated, heroic, and selfless young men and woman just out of High School produced the bullets that were needed for the Sten sub-machine guns, which were used in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. The 300 sq. yard factory was built under a kibbutz and its sole purpose was to hide the work of the young people underground who risked their lives daily. A bakery was built above ground, as well as a chicken coop, a laundry, a dining hall, a vegetable garden, workshops, and a barn – all to give the appearance of a normal kibbutz.”
There were many first-person accounts in the article that I quoted from the book, The Ayalon Institute. It was very exciting for me to be in touch with Yehudit Ayalon, the editor of the book and one of the 45 people who worked at the Ayalon Institute. Read the entire article here. Also read my blog post with my personal reflections of my visit to the Ayalon Institute.