Last-Minute Light
12/05/2007
Special To The Jewish Week

Even gift givers who are always late get a reprieve with Chanukah’s eight nights. Here are some last-minute opportunities to do good, dazzle friends and family, and extend the light.

Savor chocolate while helping to alleviate poverty and promote economic and social progress in the developing world. Divine Chocolate USA, supporting cocoa growers in Ghana, is a member of the Fair Trade Federation. Their package of Divine Milk Chocolate Coins, made with the best quality Fair Trade cocoa beans from Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana, is Chanukah gelt that empowers: The cocoa farmers in Ghana share in the organization’s profits and receive premiums for the cocoa beans, which help fund essential community projects including schools and wells.

Each bag has approximately 22 pieces (3 1⁄2 ounces). One side of the gold-wrapped coin reads “Ghana Freedom and Justice” and the other side reads “Fair Deal for Cocoa Growers.” Kosher certification is pending.

$4.75 per bag
For more information about Divine Chocolate, call (202) 332-8913.
To order the Chocolate Coins, go to agreatergift.org/Gourmet/ChocolateFood/Divine.aspx

Bring the color, aromas and ambience of Israel to your Chanukah table with a creative arrangement of flowers — all imported from Israel — set in a metal oilcan, featuring colorful anemone, sweetheart roses, and mini cala, along with Middle Eastern foliage, packaged with chocolate gelt and dreidels. From Flowers by Special Arrangement.

$125 plus delivery
(212) 595-0200 • 575 Amsterdam Ave. (between 87th and 88th streets)
Share the light. Help bring some brightness and hope to the lives of the hundreds of frail elderly on the Lower East Side. Project Ezra is an independent, nonprofit grass-roots organization serving the elders of the Lower East Side community. Your tax-deductible gift will help with daily needs like food and home care, all the more urgent in these dark and cold winter days. Send a gift in honor of a friend, and you and your friend will receive personalized letters of thanks.

Checks can be sent to Project Ezra, 465 Grand St., New York, NY  10022, or call (212) 982-4124.

Get to know this most magnificent of cities in a more intimate way. Joseph Berger had one of the greatest assignments for The New York Times, as a roving correspondent in the city’s neighborhoods. Given the city’s ethnic makeup — New York is the most ethnically diverse city in the world — he was a kind of foreign correspondent at home. That he loved his job is clear in his lively essays, collected and expanded in “The World in a City” (Ballantine Books). He captures the lifeblood and struggles of places like Ditmas Park, Brighton Beach, Jackson Heights and the Grand Concourse, and he provides practical information for people who’d like to visit. For the cost of a subway token, one can encounter Russians, Ecuadorians, Pakistanis, Koreans and Guyanese and can then nosh at a kosher deli in Brooklyn, a knish bakery on the Lower East Side, a Bukharian market in Rego Park and an ice cream factory in Chinatown.

$25.95 at bookstores around town

To accompany the book, slip in a pair of sterling silver cufflinks made from authentic, vintage subway tokens that date from 1953 to 1970, with the signature “Y” of NYC cut out.

$60 per pair
elsewares.com

Tour the city on foot. You can arrange for a pass for one or several people to join a walking tour, or gather six people and take a private tour with veteran New York City guide Joyce Gold. On Sunday, Dec. 9, Gold is leading a tour, “More Teeming Than Bombay: The Old Jewish Lower East Side,” with a stop at the newly reopened Eldridge Street Synagogue. (Meet at 1 p.m. at the corner of Essex and Canal streets.) Her full schedule of tours through many neighborhoods appears on her Web site, Joycegoldhistorytours.com

Gift certificates for individuals are $15 each. For groups of up to six people, a one-and-a-half-hour tour is $190 and a two-hour tour is $250. Rates go up with larger groups. (212) 242-5742.

Arrange for a friend to learn to cook, or add some new skills to your own repertoire. Levana Kirshenbaum is a well-known cookbook author, caterer, master chef and co-owner of Levana’s Restaurant on the Upper West Side who offers weekly themed cooking classes at Lincoln Square Synagogue. Her cooking is kosher, contemporary, “honest food,” emphasizing the use of fine ingredients and bringing out their full flavor without fuss and without sacrificing nutritional value. Class members cook together, and then share a meal at the end of class. Classes meet Monday evenings, 7-9 p.m. For a schedule of classes, see levanacooks.com

Gift certificates for classes are $45; $120 for three classes, $200 for five classes and a copy of Levana’s new book, “Levana Cooks Dairy-Free!: Natural and Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite ‘Forbidden’ Foods.”
To register or purchase a gift certificate, call Lincoln Square Synagogue, or info@lss.org. 200 Amsterdam Ave. (at 69th Street).

Keep absorbing and reflecting the lights of the holiday. Daneen Augello is a glassblower who creates one-of-a-kind masterpieces, using the technique of lampworking, which has been around since the fifth century. Augello, who sees radiance and warmth within each piece of glass she forms, has created a small three-dimensional dreidel made of hand-blown glass, to be worn as a necklace. The dreidel hangs on a sterling silver beaded chain, either 16 or 18 inches long.

$49
Daa Glass, Grand Central Station Holiday Gift Fair, open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Sunday 11a.m. - 7 p.m.; also available through her Web site, daaglass.com

Read poetry. Haya Pomrenze’s debut collection of 30 poems, “Hook” (Rock Press), showcases a bold, funny, knowing and original voice. An Orthodox Jewish woman, Pomrenze writes about the connections and disconnects in women’s lives, about belonging and being an outsider, and about family. She tells of her mother-in-law’s advice to “Always have your own stash of money,/a knipl. Just in case you need it.” And, she describes her own inclination to go to the movies on Friday afternoons rather than, like her neighbors, concerning herself with preparing side dishes. The title poem is a story about a daughter hooking her mother’s bra, but later on a hook appears on a bridal gown and a piece of brisket hooked into teeth.
Although she always enjoyed writing, the author was discouraged from following the path to becoming a writer, as it wasn’t considered appropriate for a religious young woman. Instead, after graduating from Barnard, she studied occupational therapy, and she continues to practice, even as she has rediscovered her passion for writing.

$12.95 from amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

Send a friend off to study with inspiring teachers at the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El. Courses and special programs are known for their diversity and depth. Two Sunday seminars are scheduled for December, and the winter semester begins in late January. See its Web site, adultjewishlearning.com for the full schedule of courses.

$200 for an eight-week course (regular price $215 before Jan. 16, $250 after)
$50 for a Sunday Seminar
$40 for a book of five tickets (admissions) to an AfterWords lecture.
Call (212) 507-9580 to arrange for a gift certificate.

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