Giving, And Doing Good
Tue, 11/27/2012
Special To The Jewish Week
The bicycle menorah of South Africa’s Victor Chiteura.
The bicycle menorah of South Africa’s Victor Chiteura.

In this season of gratitude, here are gifts that are practical, imaginative and allow you, the giver, to do good works in the process Happy gifting!

Jewelry that helps change lives

These original pieces are designed by students and graduates of the Megemeria School of Jewelry and Art in Israel. The school, offering professional training, employment opportunities and enrichment programs for Ethiopian immigrants, was founded by Yvel, a jewelry design firm (whose co-founder immigrated to Israel from Argentina as a child) and YEDID, The Association for Community Empowerment. This is the first Israeli corporate social responsibility program of its kind.

The “Am Echad” (one people) necklace symbolizes the need for unity between people without discrimination. Other styles are “Love,” with the word in Amharic, and “Magen David,” a stylized Star of David, a symbol of the hopes of the Ethiopian Jewish immigrants in coming to the land of Israel.

Each necklace in 24K gold-plated brass, is specially priced for Chanukah, $100. For sales, please e-mail mordechaiwelt@gmail.com

Recycled fiber arts

“In everything we do, we think about the future and how to have a better impact,” Tanya Alsberg of JAK Designs, a certified Green business, says. JAK’S hand-loomed original designs are made with organic fabrics, and include a line of pieces made from a combination of Belgian cotton and yarn made of recycled plastic bottles – “There are way too many bottles in the world and we’re finding good use for them,” says Alsberg. The gauntlets (fingerless gloves, $68) and neck warmers (that look cool and biblical, $68) in rich colors, along with scarves in varying sizes ($68-$168) are surprisingly soft and plush. One dollar from every sale goes to promote social justice and a healthy environment.

JAK Designs has a booth in Grand Central Station’s Holiday Fair. jakdesigns.com

Candles on wheels

The bicycle menorah ($36) of wire and colorful beads is made by hand by Victor Chiteura of South Africa. The master craftsman rose from extreme poverty in Zimbabwe to a career producing original works of art for a nonprofit fair trade collaborative in Cape Town, where he can now support his extended family.

Fair Trade Judaica, fairtradejudaica.org. Order by Monday, Dec. 3 to arrive for Chanukah.

Breaking and building

From Kahn Studio in Jerusalem, a white ceramic menorah requires some construction: Each night, users break off another candlestick, hanging downward, and plant it on top to hold a candle. The “Fragile” menorah ($149) symbolizes picking and planting, the cycle of life.

The Jewish Museum, Fifth Avenue at 92nd St., Manhattan, thejewishmuseum.org

All lit up

Wear the menorah proudly, all its candles aflame (in rhine-studs), on this pretty, girly-girl T-shirt, in pink, lavender and blue, sizes 2 to 8 ($34).

Stoopher & Boots, 385 Amsterdam Ave., Manhattan, stoopherandboots.com

Your own screening room

With your gift of membership to The Jewish Film Club, friends will receive DVDs of award-winning, contemporary Jewish-themed feature films along with a short film every other month. These are independent and foreign films — including comedies, documentaries, thrillers — that have played at film festivals. No need to return them. A portion of funds from each membership is devoted to charity; this season, Chai Lifeline is the recipient.

Both six-month ($55.00 + $3.25 per DVD shipping and handling) and 12-month ($95.00 with free Shipping) subscriptions are available. jewishfilmclub.com

Brighten up the holiday for lone soldiers

Send a package of freshly baked treats ($18 and up) to an anonymous lone soldier or someone you know — serving far away from friends and family — in Israel. Better yet, treat the whole unit. Gili’s Goodies in Jerusalem works in connection with the Lone Soldier Center, in memory of Michael Levin, who made aliyah in 2002, joined the IDF as a paratrooper and was killed in 2006.

Gilisgoodies.com

Dreidels spectacular and whimsical

The Jewish Museum Shop features a great selection of dreidels in silver, glass, beading, plastic, ceramic, for show and for serious play. One dreidel is made in the Philippines of recycled magazines ($12), another features army camouflage ($3.25) and a lovely rounded top was made in Israel of polished turquoise and stainless steel ($85).

The Jewish Museum, Fifth Ave. at 92nd St., Manhattan, thejewishmuseum.org

Spinning a dreidel tale for kids

With a retelling of the story of Chanukah miracles, a young boy creates a Braille dreidel for his father in “Jeremy’s Dreidel” ($17.95 hardcover, $7.95 paper). The book features directions for crafting different types of dreidels.

At Judaica stores, bookshops, or http://karben.com

Fair trade gelt

From a fair trade cooperative in Ghana, Kuapa Kokoo, where workers earn fair wages and their children can attend school, Divine Chocolate, in cooperation with Fair Trade Judaica, offers sparklingly packaged kosher gelt — chocolate coins in gold or silver and blue foil — in dark and milk chocolate.

Bags of 1.75 oz, $3.49; bulk discounts available. Mention FT Judaica at checkout to enter a raffle for a handcrafted fair trade menorah. divinechocolateusa.com

Shopping for Sandy relief

Larry Gomez and Donna Scofield, the father/daughter team behind the Upper West Side’s favorite mom-and-pop toy and art supply store were hit hard by Sandy. Their home on Staten Island was ravaged by more than 14 feet of water, and much of their inventory was destroyed. Larry, who lived there for more than 60 years, tells of escaping by boat and rescuing others. The front part of this store – in the neighborhood for 26 years – is Chanukah party central. Shop for hand-dipped candles in multi-color assortments ($12.99); The Chanukah Box of Questions ($11.99), a card game for starting conversations; finger puppets that are animated flames ($11.99); “Thanks a Latke” correspondence cards ($4.95); menorahs that are electric ($47.99), aluminum ($29.99) and miniature-sized ($14.99); dreidels ($2.99 to $5.99) to paint, lace-up, inflate and even walk;  wrapping paper, stickers and for those thinking ahead, lights for the sukkah.

Stationery & Toy World, 125 W. 72nd St. (between Columbus and Amsterdam), Manhattan.

Words to remember

“If you can’t have what you like, then like what you have.” A six-inch ceramic bowl with Yiddish and English letters ($38), is designed by Jerusalem’s Barbara Shaw, who enjoys mixing tradition and modern shapes and color in her work. 

The Jewish Museum, Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, Manhattan, thejewishmuseum.org