Day two just ended at the wholesale NY gift show. A trend of silver jewelry that is plated in both black and gold color was the highlight of the day. The color treatment adds creativity, or “art” to the jewelry, and there are no worries about it wearing off.
The design shown was the necklace of choice, combining a little love, peace and faith on one design.
This week Bat Mitzvah Mom, Alissa, is our guest blogger.
A mother and a daughter’s idea of a Bat Mitzvah seems to be two different things. Huh? At least in my family it is! You see I’m a Jewish mom who used to teach 6th grade Hebrew school for goodness sake. For years I taught with the aim to inspire Bnei Mitzvah to continue their Jewish heritage and to be proud of their religion at the time of their coming of age. The truth is, I am not so anti-the-ceremony as I am anti the big party.
We are Reform Jews in Los Angeles, so a Bat-Mitzvah is totally ordinary in our community. All girls read from the Torah and give a speech the exact same as a boy of the age of 13. All of my daughter’s friends are having a bat/bar mitzvah, and the friends are helping one another celebrate by first attending the ceremony and after the party. Now, I am ready to sit up on the bima and smile and brag about my daughter’s love, I mean LOVE of Judaism! I am ready to write a speech about her life and read it to the congregation. But then, the celebration…….. I get squeamish even thinking about it.
My real plan was to go to Israel for three glorious weeks in the winter. To have a small celebration there with the Israeli side of the family, and do a little dinner there, a little dancing, we’ll be at last with the family for an extended period of time and of course not for pure happy-celebrations. However, my daughter says, “NO!” She prefers a party for the friends and family. I am in a real dilemma, and can’t wrap my head around the idea of entertaining for five hours instead of spending three weeks abroad.
With my inner-issues of not wanting to celebrate with others, I am a little resentful of the whole idea now. I do not particularly like spending money on other people, just to hear them say, “the music was too loud… the food was tasteless… the decorations were boring.” I wonder if all parents feel this way? I doubt it, since many mothers speak highly of the entire planning process. I have yet to hear anyone say they don’t want to plan and entertain others. I think I am the only one, the grinch who stole the Bat Mitzvah?
Our “evil eye” jewelry is extremely popular. Some of the feedback we enjoy receiving is that our designs offer ancient talisman in modern, feminine, cool, hip, even glamorous and fabulous form. Basically, so you don’t feel like you’re wearing a museum relic—not that there’s anything wrong with antiquities, by the way.
People from Israel, Greece, Sicily, Italy, Turkey, North Africa and other areas around the Mediterranean are usually familiar with this idea of the “eye”—it’s part of the culture and has been for thousands of years. The eye (usually blue) gazes out over doorways, dangles from the rear-view mirrors of taxicabs, and is carefully pinned inside baby-clothes. It even hangs around the necks of hard-working donkeys!
But maybe the concept loses a bit in translation. The use of the word “evil” puts some people off.
“Evil” sounds really aggressive, but folkloric scholars (and yes, there are such people) generally share the opinion that the evil eye is generally perceived as passive. Foremost among these scholars was Dr. Alan Dundes, who worked and taught at the University of Berkeley.
Dr. Dundes’ exhaustive and fascinating studies include an essay called “The Wet and the Dry: The Evil Eye.” Here, he discusses the idea that the evil eye is usually associated with envy, jealousy, or longing. The classic example: a childless woman, for instance, may gaze with yearning at a baby, and this results in the child being affected by the evil eye. The woman isn’t really “evil” in the contemporary sense of the word.
As for the title of Dr. Dundes’ essay, he associates traditional affliction by the evil eye with becoming parched, dried-out, and drought, true to the Middle Eastern origins of the symbol, where fresh water may be more precious than rubies and pearls.“Google” him for a really fascinating read.
And meanwhile, have yourself a nice, cool glass of water—hydration is key!—and check out our great collection of eye jewelry. Think of it as a “protective” eye watching over us all.
We checked the statistics, and according to Brides Magazine, the US Census Bureau and other sources, June is still the month of choice for weddings in theUS. To this we say, “Mazel tov!”.
Typically, the bridal jewelry is a family heirloom or a really significant investment piece. This isn’t just a Jewish thing, by the way. When we travel and shop the world for our company, we’ve stood breathless in the presence of traditional Indian wedding jewelry sets (collar, bracelets, earrings, head-piece), for example, ornately rendered in 22 karat yellow gold, and swaying with ruby-drops. Now, THAT’s a fashion statement!
August, September and October also are popular months for stepping beneath the chuppa, tie the knot, jump the broom—choose your metaphor. Our collection includes many items which are ideal for the maid or matron of honor, bridesmaids, flower-girls, ring-bearer and groomsman. But the real hit this season for the bridal party is our new “Looking For…” series of “message” bracelets, ideal for the bridesmaid who is still on the matrimonial market!
These sterling silver chain accessories are sleek, modern, “ID”-style bracelets with a message-plate inscribed with the lady’s priority. The nameplate may read, “Looking for (Jewish) guy”, “Looking for (Smart) guy”, “Looking for (Nice) guy”, etc. The specific adjective of choice is set in gold-wash in the sterling plaque area.
What we love most about
these is that each word is accented by a cute little icon. For instance, “Jewish” is accented with a small Star of David. “Smart” is accented by a tiny illuminated light-bulb, for bright ideas. “Rich” (yes, we call this our “gold-digger bracelet!) is accented by a glittering bit of prong-set bling! And so on. We have a Christian version too, set with a small cross.
And, we offer an equivalent for the guy who’s still looking—his version has the same basic message-plate designs, reading “Looking for a (Rich) Girl”, etc., set on a manly leather band.
Looking for a Rich Guy
Looking for a Smart Guy Bracelet
So, let’s say you want it all in one package, and who doesn’t? Nice, smart, rich, etc.? It may take more than a bracelet to get it. But start by asking for exactly what you want.
One of our most popular jewelry motifs is the Hamsa, or protective hand. This icon is used as an amulet by many Middle Eastern people.
Of course, we see it created in silver, gold, bronze, diamonds, pewter, glass, as a personal ornament. I have also seen it woven into lush Turkish rugs, and painted on gorgeous
fountain-tiles in North Africa. As you know from previous blogs, especially in the desert, protection and well-being are linked symbolically to having easy access to water.
I have heard the Hamsa called the Hand of Miriam, as well as the Hand of Fatima, depending upon who wears it. I have seen it displayed with the fingers pointing up, and pointing down, although the fingers pointing down in my experience is more common.
Sometimes, as in our alluring “Middle Eastern Necklace” (our item # art-m), the hand and fingers are stylized to abstraction, though we know the protective powers are still there!
It’s intriguing to know that the icon of the hand extends beyond our immediate frame of cultural reference. “The Mano Poderosa”, or Hand of Power, is often portrayed in Latin Roman Catholicsacred art, especially religious art from Spain and Mexico.
And check this out: the Mudra (hand-position) of Protection, known to Hindus and Buddhists as the Abhaya
Mudra. Portrayals of the Buddha often depict his right hand in this sheltering, yet liberating gesture, which is often translated from the Sanskrit to mean “Fear not”.
Scholars say that Buddha first made
this gesture when he became enlightened. Prophets and saints of many other spiritual paths also are often depicted with their right hand in this position.
Coincidence? Doesn’t seem likely.
In any case, enjoy this universal symbol of protection from harm.
Today, a charm-bracelet is a standard piece of jewelry for women everywhere. The “charms” may be pretty tame stuff—a tiny golden poodle, a stiletto shoe, maybe a cute mini-cupcake.
But the origin of the charm-bracelet, and the wearing of charms, was originally a bit more powerful. Charms are amulets, talismans. Their general purpose: to protect the wearer from harm.
The English word “charm” comes from “carmen”, the Latin word for song, or singing. Romance languages clearly reflect this origin. In Spanish and French, a polite greeting translates “I am enchanted to meet you” (enchante, encantado)—and in these words, we see the word “chant”, as in song. Meaning to literally be charmed, or bewitched, by singing or song.
Many of our favorite pieces of jewelry may be called charms, because their ancient origins trace back to a belief in protective magic. With cultural roots deep in the Mediterranean and Middle East, the “eye”, the protective hand, the “red thread” bracelet, even the emblem of the fish are now worn by people all over the world. We’ve seen the “eye” and the Hamsa worn by young hipsters in Oslo, Tokyo, and lots of other places far from the lands where these symbols originated.
Do charms “work”? We certainly believe that a symbolic gesture of love, such as giving the gift of our “eye” or Hamsa jewelry, surrounds and shields the wearer with good vibes. That’s the great thing about love: one size fits all.
As you know, people of the Mediterranean and the Middle East have been using traditional jewelry to ward off the “evil” eye and bring them good luck for…well, for as many generations as the pomegranate has seeds.
These amulets and talismans were not really a fashion-statement. Often, they consisted of no more than a single blue bead on a leather strand. Like a good pair of boots or a good hat, they served a functional purpose—mainly, for protection.
But, guess what: the Beautiful People have discovered these ancient emblems of protection, and they’ve become glamorous. We especially love the fact that brilliant businesswoman Lynda Resnick wears a red bendel bracelet in her executive portrait. By the way, we are in no way suggesting that Ms. Resnick, or any of the other celebs, is wearing a piece of Alef Bet jewelry—we only wish. But, it’s still cool. Ms. Resnick is the strategic powerhouse behind POMWonderful, the brand who put fresh pomegranate juice, cleaned pomegranate arils (seeds) and other fantastic pomegranate products on the shelves of mainstream American supermarkets. Her Los Angeles-based company also owns Fiji Water and Teleflora. Did the magical red thread around her wrist help it all to happen? Couldn’t hurt.
And check out these pics of LiLo, Kim Kardashian, Shakira, Rihanna and even Paris Hilton riffing on the Evil eye theme. Since the rich and famous inspire so much envy, again, a little traditional protection certainly could not be a bad thing.
At first glance, the Jewish calendar seems to be strewn with solemn sacred occasions. Many holidays do command reverence in its most solemn forms, such as atonement.
Then there’s Purim.
Traditions vary, depending upon where in the Jewish world you are. It’s safe to say that Purim is triumphant, noisy, even rowdy, and brings a playful carnival atmosphere to this holiday which will be observed come sundown March 19-20, 2011.
One of the most universal Purim celebrations is the giving of mishloach manot. The Book of Esther—and Esther really is the heroine behind Purim—commands us to give gifts of food (or money for food) to the needy. And, many people do more than this—friends and families exchange yummy gifts, too. Baskets of cookies, especially the buttery poppy-seed treats known as “Hamantaschen”, are a Purim classic, and lots of other favorites find their way into Purim gifts. In this sense, we consider Queen Esther to be the grandmother of the modern-day “goody-bag’!
Our suggestion: in addition to snacks and sweets that will be gone before you can say, “baruch Mordecai” (“Blessed be Mordecai”), include a gorgeous, enduring piece of Alef Bet jewelry in your special Purim gift-baskets.
Our selection includes many small treasures, such as a bendel bracelet featuring the simple red “protection” cord, clasped by a delicate hamsa in sterling silver (our stock #: bendel-15a). Or maybe a dainty, sterling silver hamsa necklace with a Chai charm (our stock #: 905-18), or a gemstone bracelet— one of our popular Bat Mitzvah items, too. Lots to choose from, something sweet and lasting to celebrate a joyful Purim.
…and scientists and nutritionists are discovering more every day. Modern health care is all a-buzz over this succulent ancient fruit. Many studies are underway, and current evidence suggests that pomegranates are packed with antioxidants which, basically keep you young, fighting heart disease, keeping your organs and skin vibrant, and more.
Of course, people from the lands where pomegranates grow have known this for thousands of years, from Israel to India, Persia, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Morocco—all ancient cultures which have long prized the pomegranate not only for its refreshing tart-sweetness, and the beauty of its gleaming, gem-like seeds, but also for its health-giving properties.
Who can resist? In the Greek myths, the goddess Persephone was tricked by Hades, shadowy ruler of the underworld, into a lifetime shared with him when he offered her a few juicy pomegranate seeds for the road. Sort of like the first Pomegranate Martini—with drastic results!
This nourishing fruit, which is botanically related to the rose, stands for fertility and abundance in every sense. We haven’t counted, but Jewish tradition tells us that the pomegranate contains 613 seeds, one for each of the Mitzvot, or commandments, which define a good life. In this sense, the pomegranate is a life-support system for the spirit as well as the body!
Our pomegranate-themed jewelry is a natural, so to speak, for Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Year, when pomegranates are always enjoyed as a symbol of new commitment and new beginnings. For the same reason, we love pomegranate jewelry as a birthday gift, and as a wedding gift—after all, the Song of Solomon describes the lover’s glowing cheeks “like pomegranates”. This symbol of eternal renewal also resonates for anyone starting off on a new adventure, including launching a new business enterprise.
Garnet jewelry also calls to mind the restorative powers of the pomegranate: the garnet resembles the aril, or pomegranate seed. Most scholars agree that the word “garnet” is related to the Latin name for the pomegranate, Punica granatum.
Wear yours with joy, and in good health!
If you’d like to see the rose gold pomegranate online, click here. There is also a sterling silver version.
Well, what is it exactly? In Hebrew a Star of David is called a Magen David, a shield of David, not a star at all.
I find it very interesting, and will slowly try to map out the history. Lets start at the beginning.
The actual shape of the Star is a hexagon, two equal triangles. This first began showing up around the 12th century in a Karaite document called Eshkol Ha-Kofer by the Karaite Judah Hadassi, as a protective Jewish amulet. It came from Psalm 18, the poems of King David, where G-d is compared to a shield granting Divine protection.
“Seven names of angels precede the mezuzah: Michael, Gabriel, etc. … Tetragrammaton protect you! And likewise the sign, called the ‘Shield of David’, is placed beside the name of each angel.”
However, there are even earlier signs from the 3rd century where the hexagons (the star) was used as a decorative piece on a tombstone in the Galilee.
This marks the beginning of the history of the “shield of David.” I will continue to write more on this symbol of the modern day Jewish People.