Chanukah Gift Guide 5: Judaica

Sometimes you want to give a meaningful piece of great Judaica, but the right gift can be so hard to find, especially if you love a more modern aesthetic. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

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  • Kirby kiddush cups. A little something different for passing kiddush wine around the table, these glasses feel heavy and smooth in the hand. The unique design makes every Shabbat a celebration, and their distinctive silhouette will look beautiful on a shelf or tray all week long.
  • Square Eshet Chayil tray. Designed by David Fisher, a Jerusalem graphic artist, this tray features a gorgeous laser cut design on the back of thick, durable glass. Eshet Chayil, the praises sung each Friday night as tribute to the women of the home, is reinterpreted in this modern floral motif that comes in deep turquoise, wine, and green.
  • Set of 6 letterpress Chanukah cards. Not the usual Chanukah card! This textured letterpress set is cut to look like a tear-off ticket to the Festival of Lights. Click through to see the gorgeous typographical detail. Package this with an organza bag of chocolate gelt and a dreidel or two, and you are good to go.
  • The Jewish Holiday Journal. Finally, a great way to keep track of favorite holiday memories, recipes, and reflections! Write a few lines each year and watch your family story grow. The book is divided into sections with simple prompts for recording travel, special moments, noteworthy events, and even holiday menus.
  • Hammered stainless steel Tzedakah box. Why are stylish Tzedakah boxes so hard to find? This stainless steel charity box has a contemporary feel and thoughtful details.
  • Israel’s Sky and Sea home blessing. This stained glass home blessing is a beautiful gift for families or even young professionals just settling in to their first home. Shades of blue and turquoise are pieced together to make a present that will be such a pleasure to open.
  • Kate Spade seder plate. I have never seen a Kate Spade design that I didn’t like, so  this seder plate just had to be included. Porcelain cups with shiny gold lettering pop on the simple white tray. A great gift for weddings, too.
  • Floral glass mezuzah. It’s so easy to buy all plastic mezuzah covers and never update them to something a little more special. This handmade aquamarine mezuzah case glows with color. I am also partial to this one from the same artist.
  • Five-light modern crystal candelabra. In general, candelabras are made of heavy silver in traditional designs, leaving those of us who love clean lines to find our own individual candlesticks for ushering in Shabbat. This piece brings the classic candelabra back to life in sparkling crystal with a modern feel.
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Guest Tutorial for Wilna Furstenberg

Welcome, IHEARTSTUDIO fans! I am so excited to share this video tutorial that I did in collaboration with Wilna Furstenberg using her gorgeous new Spring collection. I was thrilled to be offered this opportunity and I’ve been counting down the days until I could share it with you.

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I filmed the video tutorial in collaboration with Mo David, an incredible young filmmaker. I hope you love it.

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This layout was inspired by five strong women in my family, and of course by Wilna’s Spring Collection. I loved the floral frames with their soft pink watercolor borders, and I knew they would be perfect 3×4” Project Life cards. Because May is the month of Mother’s Day, I wanted to create something as a tribute to the mothers and grandmothers that came before me, whose strength made me who I am and gives me so much to aspire to. I was able to incorporate one of my favorite quotes from the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, as well as an excerpt in English and in Hebrew from the book of Proverbs praising the woman of valor. I hope you enjoy!

Looking for more scrappy goodness?

With hope, I rise up

I have written before about those very human moments when we feel the distance between what currently is and what should be. That discomfort reveals our goals and dreams and puts them in order for us.  Without that feeling, we would be complacent and unchanging and the future would not entice us.

For some, that painful discrepancy is the career we dream of but haven’t yet achieved, or even the state of a world that seems darker and more confusing each day. For some of us, it’s the sting of infertility, or the absence of the life partner we have been yearning for. Our hearts reach out of our chests to the future, trying to bring it close.

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I read this quote on Instagram the other day and was so touched by it. Comparison is a seductive path. It fools you into thinking that you can find a shortcut, that it’ll help you figure things out for yourself. But truly it just makes you feel like you’re losing a race. We women seem to do this a lot, in the privacy of our own thoughts. We worry that we are falling behind, that we aren’t as accomplished, beautiful, useful, or needed as our peers. The imposter syndrome is strong in us. When we see our friends enjoy the blessing we fervently pray for, we are happy for them, AND we feel one other thing. Either that other thing is hopelessness for ourselves, OR it is exhilaration at the discovery that our dreams are indeed possible. If we choose exhilaration, we choose gratitude. There is the light that we have been waiting for in the darkness! There is our permission to keep working hard because success is possible.

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I have been focusing so hard on rising up. Extraordinary people accomplish what they must IN SPITE of the ache. They are not discouraged by the success of others, it spurs them on! Their feet are lighter even if their heart is heavy and sad, because they have seen it. They know it is possible.

Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks differentiates between optimism and hope. Hope is the belief that we can make things better. That these two hands can accomplish what is needed, even if our hearts ache every step of the way. What differentiates us as human beings is that discomfort need not stop us. We were created to feel the pain but to courageously do what must be done anyway.

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In her song, Rise Up, which I quoted above, Andra Day writes “all we need is hope, and for that we have each other”. We must give each other hope– the belief that our actions can make a difference. Instead of comparing, we must take courage from each others’ successes. We must reach back to those who stand where we once stood. We must feel the pain, recognize the bravery it will require of us, and still do it “a thousand times again”.

That’s my wish for each of you , my friends, on this spring Friday. May you continue to rise up. To shine like a beacon of hope when you succeed, and to glow like a pearl when you struggle. Because you are beautiful, each and every one of you, in your victories and your gratitude, in your pain and your exhilaration. May you receive every single blessing you pray for.

 

 

Shop Your Closet: Pesach Outfits

Between the scrubbing and the endless grocery lists, we don’t always have the time or budget to devote to pre-Pesach shopping. Here are a few quick ideas for fun pairings with items that might already be in your closet!

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Maxi dress (19.95), striped blazer ($29.99), lip crayon ($2.99), mint station necklace ($56.98)

Not all Yom Tov occasions call for a sheath dress and heels. Pair a blazer with a maxi dress for a long, lean look. Lunch with friends or an afternoon in the park never looked so good. Continue reading

On Perfection and Self Worth

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We all experience highs and lows in our confidence and sense of self worth. We go through seasons of doubt and phases of exuberance, and that is all part of being a complex human being living a rich and complex life. We think we have ourselves all figured out, and then the shifting sands reveal something we didn’t know was there. Sometimes it’s something we are happy to find (“I had no idea I could do that!”) and sometimes it can be a little disappointing (“I thought I’d conquered that, and here it is again.”) We seem to always be in progress.

The traditions of Chassidut teach that God recreates the world in every moment. We do not live in a “set it and forget it” universe. Rather, the world is in a constant state of regeneration and divine intention. It is a piece of art that is never finished. Doesn’t that bring you courage? Continue reading

Modest Wardrobe, Spring Edition

Hey, team. I hope you had a good week. It was a long, wobbly one for me, and I couldn’t be happier that it’s drawing to a graceful close. I’m on a little shopping break as I pay off my new hair, but that hasn’t stopped me from looking around for a few seasonal wardrobe updates for you. I focused on basic pieces with great details, and kicky accessories that will make you smile.

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Soft colors, interesting silhouettes, perfect coverage.

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Modern Women | Keepers of Tradition

“If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that’s all you really are.”

– Mrs. March (Little Women)

A few days ago, fashion blogger “J” of J’s Everyday Fashion published a controversial article, “Fashion and Faith: Can They Coexist?” “J” tells how years ago she was shopping for jeans on a tight budget and found the style she had wanted at a deeply discounted price. She saw a tag in the jeans that read, “God loves you”, and she broke into tears. “It mattered to Him. It really, truly mattered, because my heart matters. All of it. All of the tiny little things that make up my heart, including the creativity and joy in style… He rejoices in what your heart rejoices in…”

This article has churned up controversy among readers across diverse faith traditions. It raises questions about whether it is valid and respectful to turn shopping into what “J” calls “a God encounter”. Readers wonder if we can put words in God’s mouth, and accept His assumed approval for our consumerism or even vanity. Do we believe that God orchestrates our lives down to details of what clothes we find on sale? Does a tag on a pair of jeans prove that God is into this? What does God think of the conditions in the factories abroad that produce so much of our low-cost clothing today? And most of all, does God rejoice when we buy things that make us happy?

These are questions about Divine providence that reach to the very roots of faith. Some of us believe that not a leaf falls without God willing it, while others think that God focuses on large events and leaves the trivialities up to us. Still others believe in an absent God, or in no God at all. Today I offer my perspective as an Orthodox Jewish woman. Continue reading