If Madonna Could Pull it Off…..

Growing up, you got a piece of Jewish jewelry for your bat-mitzvah, but if you were “lucky” you did not.  Back in the 80s, there was no fashion-forward Judaic jewelry.  It was large, ugly and style-less.  Ok, that is a big-blatant statement I am making, so I will retract it and say, “I cannot remember ever seeing anything nice that was religious when I grew up.”


It just wasn’t fair.  Madonna wore cool crosses and the kids at school did too.  They had fun flaunting their faith with style, pizazz and flair.   She made the rosary and crucifix into jewelry and took layering to a new extreme.  


And then she added a Jewish Star and OMFG!!!!


The coolest of the cool was wearing a Star of David.



As a society, we are used to images of obnoxious, gross, very large Judaic symbols.  (Madonna’s isn’t small by any means).  It was the Jewish grandpa on Miami beach wearing his mezuah, star or chai pendant on a thick gold chain that came instantly to mind.  You might argue with me and say your charm was meaningful and carried memories, but don’t forget this is my memories of what I saw as a kid, and would love to hear about yours in the comment section.

Now, back to my story:

These stereo-typical images are found on the big screen.  Here are two resourceful images I found that portrays the image of the symbolic pieces:

Other than that, there really was nothing on the market.  Unless, you were lucky enough to have someone you knew going to Israel, and they could hook you up with your name in Hebrew.  Remember this was pre-internet and Birthright so Israel was not on the top of the most-traveled list.


In 1989, my second trip to Israel, I remember getting my name in bold font Hebrew letters.  I was so cool, I didn’t even notice they spelled my name wrong.  Didn’t matter, I couldn’t read it anyhow.


Leaving the glamorous 1980s behind  and stepping into the late 1990s, there still was a void in faith-based Jewish jewelry.  Now, by this time I had learned to read, write and speak Hebrew.  My mom, selling jewelry at the time in her maternity shop, decided it was time to manufacture her own jewelry.  Enter Hebrew letter beads!



All of the sudden, there was modern Hebrew jewelry on the market, none of the likes seen before.  These cubes were fashioned after the English letter beads that were all the craze.


Popularity, Jewish, affordable


We hit on an idea that was void in the market.  The Jewish mothers loved us– !  Remember, this was still pre-internet days.


1996, baby


Thinking that we were a one hit wonder, we named the business after the beads. Alef Bet Jewelry.


Then someone asked us what else we had…..  and the answer was, “nothing.”  So, we scrambled and thought and designed and the rest is history.


If you still want to purchase these Hebrew necklaces, you can.  We really still do manufacture these beads from the original molds we made them in.


Confession– the image was taken on a regular pre-digital camera.  We used film.

And it was pre-photoshop.  So that is our only image that remains.  But, the jewelry is still shining and gorgeous and can be found at www.alefbet.com.


Let us know your thoughts and what were your stories about seeing Madonna in a Jewish star?



Written Language and Jewelry

Do you Dress Like the Queen of the Nile?


The desire to ornament ourselves is deep, deep in our human DNA.  Archeological digs from every part of the world reveal that people have always loved to wear jewelry, even before they had written language. Aztec and Mayan glyphs depict royalty wearing earrings and belts made from the plumes of parrots and the iridescent wings of butterflies. Viking graves reveal aristocrats accessorized for the afterlife wearing strands of amber beads and intricately carved bronze torques, a solid, collar-like necklace with an opening at the front. And most famously, the Egyptians dressed for life—and death—in shimmering headdresses, bib necklaces, rings and cuffs of yellow gold set with lapis lazuli, carnelian and onyx.

Today’s trend is minimalist, compared with the wow-factor of these ancestral tastes. One of the reasons: written language.

Maybe you’re not up for dressing like the Queen of the Nile most days. A great pair of jeans and the perfect white tee-shirt may be more your style—but what takes this modern uniform from “whatever” to a fashion look is the right piece of gold jewelry. The simpler the better: a subtle but substantial piece of gold that rests close to your heart. Based on more than 15 years of designing jewelry, we find that the piece of gold jewelry most women want today is an sleek, refined necklace which incorporates the names of kids and grandchildren. Perhaps it’s just the first initial of your child. Just one character may say it all. Say it in English or Hebrew—we create name-necklaces in both languages using both alphabets. In fact, that’s how our design business got started, creating cube- “letter” beads in Hebrew when the tradition had just started (Alef Bet, for any of you who don’t know, means “A,B” in Hebrew!).

Hebrew Name necklace
Engraving a Hebrew name necklace

We create many variations on name-necklaces which are so easy to wear, each piece will become the favorite you want to wear everyday!

The power of the names of those we love has never been more precious as the world becomes more and more global. Your kids and grandchildren may live in your hometown, or may live, work and play on another continent. Keep them close with Skype, and with a name-necklace from Alef Bet.

Our favorite customer testimonial goes like this: a chic grandmother we know wears a 14-karat and diamond Alef Bet necklace of seemingly random letters: “D,D,M,R”. But the letters aren’t random at all: the characters stand for her sons David and Daniel, and her granddaughters Miriam and Ruth. But that explanation may not be necessary. When someone asks grandma what the letters mean, she says simply “My family.”



What’s In a Name?

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Hebrew name engraved on a 14k gold necklace



Really, what is in a name?  Such an easy title, such a complex idea!


We all need to be called something, we all have a name.  When my son says to me, “that boy with long hair,” I always answer back, “that kid’s mom didn’t name him the boy with the long hair…”  We all have a name.  So, where do they come from?  Sure, we can choose a name off the top 100 baby name list, but that isn’t all that is involved when you give someone an identity.  History and thought goes into that name as well.

I know when my three kids were born, we had to choose a letter of the alphabet that was after a loved one.  My relatives came from Russia, making us Ashkenazic so we tend to name after a loved one.  I was told that it is a way of keeping their memory alive, that their soul is still with us.  Then my Sephardic-Israeli husband said they name in honor of a loved one, usually a grandparent.  And so the choices begin, but really each choice is wrapped around tradition, even if we aren’t 100% aware of it.


Why tradition?  Well, Jewish people living in non-Jewish lands need a Hebrew name, a name that is preferably easy to pronounce.  That is the way it always has been, but did you know that in the 12th century the Rabbis actually passed a Rabbinical ruling requiring Jews to have a Hebrew name.  Take Yitzhak, not so easy, but Isaac…simple.  Some parents have gone the route, like I did, and given names that work for both like Adam or Sarah.  Others use the first letter to match up:  Nechama and Nikki, others choose a Hebrew name after a relative and a secular name that they just flat out love with no connection at all.  But still, Jewish tradition is there in that name.


All in all, maintaining tradition and learning about the history of our ancestors is what keeps Judaism alive.  The lifecycle event which starts at birth with the naming of a child continues to the next event, their Bat/Bar Mitzvah and eventually to marriage… all falling back on tradition.  The entire history of the Jewish people is recreated and continued in a simple thing…. a name.


A wonderful gift, tying in tradition and celebration, is gifting a piece of jewelry with one’s Hebrew name.  Choose a Hebrew font perhaps with a date to remember the occasion.  Alternatively, do a Hebrew name in English font.  The choice is yours, what matters is continuing tradition.  Celebrate lifecycle events, take pride in your heritage.

Letters or initials to show the pride in your name
English letter initial necklace in 14k gold.


See the choices of name necklaces online at Alef Bet Jewelry by Paula.  We will help you spell your name in Hebrew, just let us know!

Shop now here

Read the article at Mazelmoments, where they show you how to plan and perfect your perfect Moment!!