Our Favorite Hanukkah Gifts from FT&V's Israeli Artisans
White ceramic dreidels by Anat Stein and Hadas Kruk of Tel Aviv-based Studio Armadillo.
Photo by Eliran Dahan for Fig Tree & Vine.
As the Knife Intifada continues in Israel, many of us feel helpless as to what we can do or how we can help the innocents being mercilessly and brutally attacked by terrorists. There are of course many worthy Jewish charities and organizations doing great work. But there are many Israelis who won't be on the receiving end of charitable help -- they are restaurant workers who suddenly have no tables to wait on; hotel keepers who are looking at plunging occupancy rates; artisans whose studios and shops are dependent on tourist traffic to survive. When travelers curtail their trips to Israel the whole economy suffers. It's not just lives that are threatened by violence but whole livelihoods -- those of the Arabs equally with the Jews.
One of my original goals for Fig Tree & Vine was to provide a safe and beautiful storefront for Israeli and Jewish products. We have all read the stories urging boycotts of Israeli-based businesses worldwide. It doesn't matter whether the products are bath soaps, jewelry, or soda dispensers. Some store owners have even faced physical intimidation and threats.
The magic of online commerce, however, is that there are no brick-and-mortar structures to block entry to; no plate-glass windows to smash; no proprietors to bully. Fig Tree & Vine customers can still virtually browse the shops of Israeli artisans without fear of violence; and in return, the artisans will welcome their business.
For Fig Tree & Vine's first Hanukkah season (Hurray! Light one candle!), I'd like to highlight some of our top gift choices from our Israeli artisans. The holiday commences December 6. Many of these items are unique or handmade to order, so allow up to 10-14 days for shipping. In the coming weeks, I'll be offering a curated collection of menorahs -- as well as gift choices from the rest of our talented artisans from around the world.
These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things (Shipping Included!)FIT FOR ROYALTY. Ben-Zion David is an eight-generation Yemenite silversmith in Jaffa. His studio, tucked into worn stone walls, is where you'll find him applying ancient filigree techniques to his modern creations of sterling silver jewelry and Judaica. Virtually all Yemenite jewelry is made of filigree, which requires a variety of different tools and weaving with various diameter silver wires. Every precious jewel is designed with "five strands"; each thread has a name of its own and is filled with sacred meaning. David has expanded this old technique to include candlesticks, menorahs, and other Judaica of his own design. His crown-themed sterling candle holders were presented as a gift to Queen Elizabeth by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. A popular gift are the (top row, left) sterling tallit clips inset with Roman glass; the "crown" havdallah spice box (2nd row, far right) is an example of his stunning Judaica. You can view our full Ben-Zion David collection, including more jewelry, here.
THINGS THAT SPARKLE. We recently introduced you to jewelry by Orit Ivshin, who is based in Tel Aviv's historic Neve Tzedek neighborhood. All of her rings, earrings and necklaces are crafted in 18k gold.Her signature pieces are those that are dusted with tiny flecks of diamonds, such as in the simple, stackable ring (upper right corner). I have a pair of oval pave studs that I rarely take off. Another one of her signature techniques is to take precious and semi-precious jewels and float them delicately in gold frames (Bottom center: Oval Drop Earrings with green and yellow tourmaline, and a single diamond adorning each one). You'll find that Orit's jewelery is both subtle and super wearable -- her creations go equally well with jeans and a t-shirt or a little black dress.
WRAP YOURSELF FOR THE HOLIDAYS. Or just Dad. Weaving Creation, known as Maaseh Oreg in Hebrew, is a studio in Jerusalem's Ancient Jewish Quarter that preserves the craft of weaving tallitot as practiced by the Jewish nation for thousands of years. The craftsmen, Yosef Gabso and Ori Farhan, put their heart and soul into each of their handmade tallit (center). Fig Tree & Vine offers a selection of six patterns in two sizes, small (22" X 73") and large (50" X 73"). All are handwoven in 100% organic cotton, and come with a matching bag and kippah. The bag can be personalized with an embroidered name in Hebrew or English at no extra charge. Please allow two to three weeks for delivery.
MODERNIST MENORAHS AND MORE. A big shout-out to the latest Israeli-based artisans to join the Fig Tree & Vine community: Anat Stein and Hadas Kruk of Studio Armadillo. In their Tel Avi workshop, the two women are producing some of the prettiest, most colorful contemporary Judaica in ceramic and wood -- whimsical and yet clean-lined enough not to lose its cool.
Anat and Hadas in their Tel Aviv workshop.
Photo by Eliran Dahan for Fig Tree & Vine.
Their pastel mezuzahs make sweet gifts for babies and children (center, left); their sleek white menorahs, dreidels and vases are sophisticated presents for friends and family. The more individualistic and creative amongst you might enjoy their "Tangram Menorah" in wood (bottom right), that can be arranged in whatever pattern you like. The 10 pieces can be configured into plenty of different shapes, from a camel, a cat, a boat, a man or a women, or really any geometric shape. The lighting ceremony will become a joyful and creative challenge. A cool gift for children and the young at heart.