From French-inspired macarons to high-design seder plates, cool gifts for Pesach.
Barbara Shaw tells the entire story of Passover on this bold, Pharaoh-print cloth that might be a tea towel or a table cover ($19). Her work is designed and made in Israel; the icons are hand-printed on linen, here in brick red. Born in Australia and now living in Jerusalem, Shaw blends ancient themes and contemporary design in her original textile work.
“We got tired of the sorry state of Passover desserts, with cakes already in the stores months before the holidays,” Mark Roth says. He and his wife Blythe felt someone should do something about it, and the social entrepreneurs took on the challenge. The new company, Tova’s All-Natural, is named for their 6-year-old daughter, who offered samples at a recent tasting. The desserts are all natural, kosher for Passover and year-round, gluten-free, preservative-free, dairy-free and, yes, delicious.
In her first-ever press interview, Tova distinguished between these colorful French-inspired macarons and traditional Passover macaroons and said that her favorites are chocolate and lemon (also available in raspberry, coffee, Earl Grey and sea salt caramel).
The Roths’ almond-lemon torte ($21) is modeled on a traditional Sicilian cake that doesn’t use flour. The macarons (colored with organic natural food dyes) come in an assortment of six ($10.50) or 12 ($10). Also available are a lemon meringue tart ($26), fresh fruit tart ($28) and a chocolate truffle torte ($39.99). Delivery is available in the New York/New Jersey area.
Jaime Marr’s handmade fused-glass wine holder ($130) shimmers in the light. The glass wave, made of transparent sea green glass with a frosted bubble strip, suggests the moment the Israelites crossed the sea. The base is made of solid birch and holds one wine bottle. Each piece is signed by Marr, who says that much of her glasswork is inspired by the sea and water. Orders can be personalized.
For young readers (ages 3 to 8) and armchair travelers, share the story of a group of families who hike up a mountain in the Red Rock Desert in Utah, along with Rabbi Jamie Korngold, to hold a seder. They also re-enact the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. Participants learn, sing and debate, spreading tablecloths on the ground for their festive, home-cooked meal. Rabbi Korngold, spiritual leader of the Adventure Rabbi Program, has written the text of “Seder in the Desert” (Kar-Ben) $7.95 paperback, $6.95 eBook), with color photographs by her husband, Jeff Finkelstein (Kar-Ben).
At bookstores, or online
Ceramica, an importer of fine handmade Italian ceramic tableware and gifts from family-run factories in Italy, is offering a spring sale on select items, with 20 percent off, through April 20. The company was started by Carol LeWitt and her late husband Sol LeWitt, the internationally renowned painter, when they were living in Italy; they helped to revive the centuries-old tradition of classic Italian pottery. One of LeWitt’s last projects was the design of his local synagogue in Chester, Conn. (near the Ceramica shop) as an homage to the wooden synagogues of Eastern Europe.
These colorful bottle stoppers, made of natural cork with painted ceramic tops in traditional geometric designs, will look great at the seder table, in between cups of wine ($14.40).
We’ve heard of neckties with Passover themes, but this year you can dress festively with silver-plated cufflinks in the shapes of seder plates, shmura matzahs, the word Pesach and four cups of wine ($50).
J. Levine Books & Judaica, 5 W. 30th St., Manhattan, Levinejudaica.com
Made of recycled materials by an award-winning architectural design group in Minnesota, this elegant Corian seder plate has six wells for the symbolic Passover foods within its pierced design ($358, $322.20 members). The off-white surface will sparkle at the center of the table. The plate comes in a pouch made of sailcloth for yearly storage.
The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue (at 92nd Street), Manhattan, shop.thejewishmuseum.org
For Iris Fishof, a piece of jewelry is “not merely an ornament” but it can be a reflection of societal history. Her extensive, beautifully illustrated history, “Jewellery in Israel Multicultural Diversity 1948 to the Present” (Arnoldsche Art Publishers,/ACC Distribution, $70) is the first book of its kind. Fishof, an Israeli art historian and curator, begins with folk artists who worked in pre-state Israel and covers the establishment of the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in 1906 and the role of immigrants, like the Germans who brought the modernist Bauhaus tradition with them in the 1930s and Yemenites who brought their own intricate silversmith traditions in the 1950s. She describes contemporary internationally recognized artists working in various materials and styles, still with a “distinctly local flavor.”
At bookstores or online
As we celebrate freedom, remember the millions who are still enslaved. Support Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), the only organization in New York State designed to help young women who have experienced sexual trafficking — GEMS provides support, education, shelter, and opportunities for positive change. Recommended by Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, GEMS was founded in 1988 by a 23-year-old survivor of trafficking with a borrowed computer at her kitchen table and a vision of ending sexual exploitation and helping its victims. They sell GEMS SELLS bracelets, t-shirts and notecards on its website.
And, here’s a free gift for you. Take a look at Hanan Harchol’s animation for Passover, “Maror” (bitter herbs), which ties together freedom, free will, belief and bitter herbs in a provocative, wise and funny conversation. Harchol is the award-winning creator of “Jewish Food For Thought: The Animated Series.”
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