Gifts Of Light

From Israel, Brooklyn, Spain and New Jersey, gift ideas to celebrate and extend the light of Chanukah.

12/06/11
Special To The Jewish Week
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Share Beautiful Words

‘Still ours the dance, the feast, the glorious Psalm,/The mystic lights of emblem, and the Word,” Emma Lazarus wrote in “The Feast of Lights.”

Several new volumes of poetry deserve to be read out loud and also savored in silence. Highly recommended are Richard Zimler’s “Love’s Voice: 72 Kabbalistic Haiku” (Tarcher Books), in which the novelist expresses Jewish mystical teachings in the traditional Japanese form of haiku; Riverdale poet Sarah Stern’s “Another Word for Love” (Finishing Line Press), Jake Marmer’s “Jazz Talmud” (Sheep Meadow Press) and Isidore Century’s “Unintended Wanderings Through Torah” (Blue Thread Communications).

At local bookstores and online

Make your own words, with Bananagrams, newly available in Hebrew. Packaged in a small banana-shaped sack, the anagram game requires no pen or paper. Since Hebrew has so many two-letter words and “no bad letters,” as the Hebrew developers explain, the game is easier in Hebrew than English — and can be played by Hebrew speakers at any level. The original game, developed by the Nathanson family in Rhode Island, was named Toy Fair’s “Game of the Year” in 2009.

99 shekels ($26.50), including free shipping in Israel and North America, bananagrams.co.il/en

For children, read a story. “Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles” by Tami Lehman-Wilzig with Nicole Katzman, illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau (Kar-Ben, ages 5-9) is a tender story about how a family embraces its autistic son and his sibling at Chanukah. Katzman, who is the mother of the real Nathan, is an advocate for children with special needs.

$17.95 hardcover, $7.95 paperback. In bookstores

Retell the story of the woman behind the words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” “Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty” by Linda Glaser with paintings by Claire A. Nivola (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ages 5-8) describes how a young woman from a wealthy New York family who “only knew people who had plenty of everything” came to be a humanitarian and powerful writer, whose words still stir those who “yearn to breathe free.” Nivola’s gorgeous paintings capture the late 1800s.  $17. In bookstores

SHOP LOCAL

Visit a treasure box of a new gift shop, Stoopher and Boots, on the Upper West Side. It features all handmade items including colorful pottery made in Brooklyn and leather goods from Israel. Chanukah cards handmade in New Jersey and jewelry from local artists. Some of the children’s clothing and jewelry is made by the owner, Stephanie Goldstein, a former corporate strategy consultant who lives in the neighborhood. The store’s name is drawn from the nicknames her father called her and her sister, now a rabbi.

Limited edition prints feature portraits and quotes from Albert Einstein, Irving Berlin, Golda Meir and other greats. They are matted, framed and signed by the artist, Garrick Bernstein. 11 inches by 17 inches, $68; Magnets with the same images, $3; a set of six Chanukah cards by Susan Itkin, $14. Stoopher and Boots, 385 Amsterdam Ave. (78th and 79th), Manhattan, (212) 877-2128, stoopherandboots.com

Send a friend to class at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts in Brooklyn. Individual classes like “Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!” “Sophisticated Cupcakes” and “Steak Night” are offered weeknights and Sunday mornings. On Saturday nights the Center offers “Date Night” classes for couples, in which couples work together to learn to create four-course upscale dinners — followed by sit-down meals with wine where participants partake of what they’ve made. For “Couples Competition,” six couples are each given a basket with secret ingredients and two hours to create a meal; a panel of judges from CKCA awards prizes for the most appealing dish.

Gift certificates available. $75 for individual clasess; $150 for “Date Night.” The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts, 1407 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn, (718) 513-9934, kosherculinaryarts.com

Send a message with this menorah, in which the candles are placed around the symbol of peace. The manufacturer sends a portion of its profits to the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence.

$15, The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave. at 92nd Street, Manhattan, (212) 423-3211, and at The Jewish Museum Shop at the JCC in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave. at 76th Street, Manhattan, (646) 505-5730, thejewishmuseum.com

SHOP GLOBAL

Spin stories of Chanukah with this colorful wire and bead dreidel, handcrafted in South Africa. The artisans are Zulu craftspeople who work with recycled wire, beads and tin cans to make jewelry and gifts. Most are formerly unemployed men and women who are given training and support through an organization called Streetwires.

$25, Globalgoodspartners.org

Share an Israeli buzz with this gift set from Aroma, “Espresso yourself” — a pair of white ceramic espresso cups and a set of spoons along with a half pound of Aroma’s own blend of Arabica coffee. Designed for espresso, the coffee is selected from coffee beans grown around the world. The set includes the same chocolates offered in Aroma cafés: to provide the experience of being there, as a manager explains.

The gift set is available at Aroma’s seasonal café in Bryant Park and also online (www.aroma.us). $30. Aroma, Bryant Park, Sixth Avenue at 42nd Street, Manhattan

Make a statement. This hand-screen printed sturdy all-cotton tea towel is adorned with brightly colored Jaffa oranges, one of Israel’s best-known winter exports, developed in Palestine in the mid-1800s in the city of Jaffa. The orange has come to symbolize the inclusion of lesbians and gays in Jewish life. Designed by Barbara Shaw, the tea-towels are made in Israel, each 19 inches by 28 inches and nicely packaged in a sleeve with window. $16, moderntribe.com

Get a grip. For those whose tradition includes Chinese food on Christmas eve, add some variation with these fork-knife chopsticks, made in Spain from reusable, dishwasher-safe plastic with a rubberized grip. The pair interlocks for easy-use as chopsticks. $10, uncommongoods.com

And bring light to others. Donate to the charity of your choice in someone else’s honor. Or help Carmei Ha’ir serve meals in a dignified setting to needy people in Jerusalem. Carmeihair.org

Last Update:

12/11/2011 - 07:29

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Thanks for the excellent tips. In our time of waning literacy books make a gift that lasts for years and can educate, entertain, and be passed on.

Paul Harris
Author, "Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina"

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