The Hamsa– Up or Down? Which is the Right Way to Wear it?

From “Om” to “Shalom”

diamond hamsa necklace

The Hamsa is one of our most familiar and favorite symbols to wear as fine jewelry. At the moment, we’re just loving this very feminine version (fch39), a small, but very fiery Hamsa pendant, set with diamonds and suspended from links of diamond stations in yellow, rose or white 14 karat gold. It’s not bling-y at all—meaning it doesn’t yell at you from across the room.

 

Instead, it’s sophisticated and chic.

 

Here’s the thing: lots of our customers practice yoga, and this is one of their favorite pieces to wear while in the “Om” space—we have to say, it does look really sleek and modern on a spaghetti-strap tank top. This is truly a cross-cultural moment, because the Hamsa, as we know it, is not a Hindu or Buddhist symbol. The Indian Vedic scriptures have a beautiful tradition of powerful, symbolic hand postures called mudras, but that’s a whole different thing. We think. In any case, here’s the Hamsa, at a yoga studio near you, doing the downward dog and sun salutation.

 

Jews call this hand-shaped amulet the Hand of Miriam. Moslems call it the Hand of Fatima. There are many interpretations of these particular usages.  The hand is often depicted with an eye in the center of its open palm, presumably to ward off negative energies, including the gaze of envy.

 

Berkeley scholar and folklorist, Professor Alan Dundes, incidentally Jewish, studied the origins of the evil eye for decades, and identified the ancient cultures that live along the Sahara as the source of the specific practices and symbols we use to signify the evil eye today. Dr. Dundes concluded that the arid desert landscape itself, in almost permanent drought, created a highly defensive and protective consciousness, where precious moisture, including tears, breast milk and human spit, traditionally took on magical properties.

 

The brilliant and outrageous Dr. Dundes, unfortunately, is no longer with us. So we’ve done our own unofficial survey.

Usually, the Hamsa points down.

But we do offer several pieces where the fingers point up. Some people feel that, like with a horseshoe, the symbol seems “luckier” if the direction is up, not down. Okay. If this is your groove, try our sterling and turquoise-gemmed Hamsa pendant

 

 

 

 

 

Come to think of it, our round disk sterling Hamsa pendant has a serene, lotus-look which makes sense with yogic practice. round hamsa for yoga on amazon

 

 

 

 

Two downward-facing Hamsa pendants that are favorites have the look of the Mediterranean and Middle East – a slender, elongated Hamsa in sterling silver  or diamond dotted version in gold. 

 

Today, we’re truly living in McLuhan’s global village. We eat sushi in Texas. We listen to vintage Rolling Stones anthems in space. So, who’s to say whether the Hamsa should point up or down, or whether it “goes with” yoga?

Wear your Hamsa, and feel safe and empowered in your wonderful place in our amazing world.

So, how do you wear your hamsa?

 

After Holiday Sale Time on Jewelry

With all the online chatter or noise about sales, you probably often wonder why do online stores have one?

 

When Alef Bet first started selling, it was predominately wholesale.  Meaning, to the stores and not to the public.  We ventured into online sales when the internet started up, but we never pushed, never really tried to make it a success.  Now we are trying.  2017 holiday season was awesome!

Which leads us back to the title of this blog, why a sale?

Well, for the first part a store, be it online or in a brick-and-mortar location just can’t sell everything under the sun.  If you have a store, then of course, space is limited.  Customers don’t want to see the same product all the time.  Of course, you can always house it in a warehouse and rotate out your stock.  Could you imagine how organized you would have to be to keep track of that?!  What if an item goes out of style, and you forgot where it was housed, you are doomed.

Imagine bringing back shoulder pads now?

 

Same thing for ecommerce.

 

We need to sell off merchandise to create more online space.  How many pages can you scroll through until you find exactly what you are looking for?  Think of Amazon, can you really scroll though 4000 pages of hamsa jewelry?  NO WAY!

 

So, we’ve created a retirement sale on jewelry.

 

Yes, often times merchandise moves from our www.alefbet.com website over to Amazon.com and our online store there.  But often times, when we move to Amazon it is 100% going to be housed at Amazon and in their fulfillment centers.  Which basically means that we don’t ship in house, Amazon takes care of all of that.  It is their Prime feature, that they are in full control of inventory, customer service and shipping– for a fee to them, of course.

So, if you want to see what is being listed for sale over on our website— prepare yourself as we are constantly adding before January 1, 2018.  

We want to clear off our shelves, our bins, our dividers and plastic bags and allow for space for new merchandise.  Here at Alef Bet Jewelry, we want to grow and by growing we mean, bringing in new jewelry all the time.  New hamsa and evil eye designs, new Jewish Star necklaces, and more 14k gold.  That is our true love, gold jewelry.

 

We hope you’ll shop our sale and help us open up new shelving space for our new collections. 

If you have any ideas for us, want to become a brand ambassador, or just want to support a small niche company grow, let’s connect.

 

We love each and everyone of you and are so thankful,

Alissa & Paula

 

Shop the sale on AlefBet.com

 

 

 

 

 

Jewish Star– What!! You Never Wore One?

Wait, what – you’ve never worn the Star of David?

And you’re a nice Jewish girl or Jewish boy? We’re laughing with you, not laughing at you.

There is an entire generation – maybe two—of generations of Jews who really haven’t rocked the Magen David or Shield of David, known to the rest of the world as The Jewish Star.  

star of david jewelry

Sociologists, cultural anthropologists, and many others are filled with theories as to why. 

The symbol carries many centuries of meaning in alchemy and other belief systems, notably the upward-pointing triangle for masculine fire, the downward-pointing triangle for water and feminine energy.

The hexagram, sometimes called the Seal of Solomon, has a mystical past. It’s inscribed on Kabbalistic amulets to guard the wearer against demons—so what a bitter irony indeed when during the dark years of the 1930s and 1940s, incarcerated Jews were forced to wear the yellow six-pointed star, a literal badge of social injustice, persecution, isolation, and intended genocide.

After the defeat of the Nazis, wearing the star was still painful for Jews, a reminder of very recent losses.  Also, the generation of Jews who lived through the Second World War, and had children after the Allied victory, may have associated the Shield of David with old ways, old times, and times better forgotten. For similar reasons, in the 1950s and beyond, the Yiddish language fell into virtual silence among educated, prosperous, assimilated American Jews who wanted nothing more than to get along, live well and move on.

And here’s the good news: times have changed again.

The Yiddish language flourishes, especially in theatre. And the Shield of David has never been more popular.

Today, it’s worn as a symbol of Jewish identity.

Alef Bet Jewelry offers a wide selection of these pieces with a sense of great joy because we feel that wearing the star signals unity within the Jewish world. It’s also a signal of optimism and faith: yup, folks, we made it.

We’re still here.

Diamond and gold star of david Modern Jewish Star Jewelry

We’ve got quite a selection of these stars, so please always feel free to contact us (HERE) for ideas about items that fit your budget and meet your particular interests.

These days, wearing the Jewish star feels easy—casual, natural. It’s a relaxed statement we think you’ll enjoy, even if this is your first Magen David!  Hadassah Magazine listed this Star as the top Hanukkah gift!

One of our favorites is a modern bracelet which combines three powerful symbols in sparkling cubic zirconia – the Magen David, the evil eye as a flat, round charm in gleaming deep blue stones, and the protective Hamsa or hand amulet. The three charms are nicely proportioned, and connected by a delicate but sturdy chain bracelet. It’s a contemporary take on wearing ancient protection, in 14k rose or yellow gold vermeil, or sterling silver (see it here). 

 

hamsa bracelet with evil eye and jewish star emblem

 

 

 

 

 

 

These days, we hesitate to use any words which might seem disrespectful to women (or men), but we like to wear our bracelets “stacked.” As the anchor of the stack just as our faith anchors our being and our life, we love to wear a simple but very elegant beaded bracelet with a deeply carved Jewish star. Try this gold-filled 3mm bead and star (See it here). It’s simple, looks more expensive than it is, goes with a simple gold watch – or pile on lots of other bangles, cuffs and wraps for an eclectic look. 

 

Gold Star Bracelet with Jewish Magen David

 

No matter what your fashion statement, we always love the look of a sparkling star on a fine chain, designed to rest perfectly on the breastbone. Check out our Love Necklace with, a Magen David pendant that’s sized large enough to make a statement, but still on the dainty side, blazing with brilliant white cubic zircon stones. Looks amazing with a LBD for the evening, a denim jacket for weekends, or your sharpest office suit every day. 

 

Mandel Bread Recipe Not Too Sweet and Great With Coffee

mandelbread recipe by alef bet jewelry

There is something about the smell of freshly baked goods right out of the oven

My grandmother always had a shoe box full of Mandelbrot at her home in Denver. “Just the perfect cookie for a cup of coffee,” she said. 🍵

My mother bakes these crunchy, light cookies doused with cinnamon and sugar now too. 🍵 And yes, they are perfectly suited for a cup of coffee, as well.  Sometimes she adds golden raisins, not regular ones, only golden raisins, to the dough. I think I prefer the tiny chocolate chips in dark chocolate though.

True story, we used to bring about 10lb of the Mandelbrot cookies each winter and summer to the gift shows.  First it was the Buyer’s Market of American Craft in Philadelphia, then it was New York Now in Manhattan.  We’d package them up with a little sticker in a cute baggie.  It was a real hit for years!

We printed up the recipe, and would email it later on as a thank you for shopping.

The ladies loved it!

🍵 We recently posted this over on our Facebook page, which you can check out here, and the requests were CRAZY!!  We had so many ladies messaging us and telling us the stories of the famous Jewish cookies their parents and grandparents would make growing up for them.  It was a post that brought back wonderful memories, for not only us, but for so many of our readers.  It was a real joy to read.

The recipe is listed below.

They are easy to make and not too sweet.

And pair perfectly with a cup of coffee 🍵

Please share you memories with us here, and if you did make our mandel brot – mandel bread- aka kamish cookies, please let us know in the comment section how they turned out!!

 

Recipe link is here.

 

Don’t forget to share with us how it turned out!!

Kamish Bread is a Jewish Favorite

What is a Bar or Bat Mitzvah?

What is a Bar or Bat Mitzvah?

  • Jewish coming of age ceremony
  • Boys and girls are typically age 13 and considered Jewish adults.
  • Bat is for girls and Bar is for boys
  • Study and preparation allow one to read from the Torah 
  • A mitzah is a commandment.  A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is ultimately continuing one’s religious and spiritual experience such as their ancestors before them

Jewish Stars are the #1 Hanukkah Gift in 2017

 

What we’re gifting this Hanukkah 2017 is gold Jewish Star necklaces.  

 

As seen in December’s issue of  Hadassah Magazine , this year’s hottest and most popular jewelry gifts are Jewish Star necklaces.

Made from solid yellow 14k gold, a delicate Star is exactly what our customers are clamouring for and they can be found online at www.alefbet.com

 

“What we love about the diamond star is that is it unique, and so different,” says Paula, owner at Alef Bet Jewelry by Paula.  The diamonds do not disappoint, as they sparkle brilliantly just like the flames of the chanukkiah.  If diamonds aren’t your style, perhaps a simple Star is.  There is actually nothing “simple” about this Star of David, it’s beauty is in the meaning and the design.

 

Have a wonderful Hanukkah, may it be filled with many blessings, health and love!!

 

 

 

What Are Great Gifts For Hanukkah 2017

Wear—and give– a hunka-hunka burnin’ love this Chanukah!

 

Maybe it’s just the memory of dreamy boychik Adam Sandler and his guitar, but this Chanukah, we’re having an Elvis moment. Why? The King loved to wear sparkly things, and he also LOVED to eat fried food.  Two out of three (okay, Elvis might have been Jewish)—not bad!

 

These eight crazy nights of the 2017 Hanukkah festivities begin December 12 and last until December 20. These are the nights when we light the candles and rekindle the hope of the world. We eat delicious food fried in oil, whether it’s fabulous sufganiyot (our favorite filled donuts have gone far beyond Bubbe’s standard red jelly filling!), or stacks of golden potato latkes – not to mention cheese pancakes.

 

Just a brief historical sidebar: our first Jewish ancestors, unless they lived in Peru or thereabouts, did not eat potato pancakes. Potatoes are indigenous to the Americas, and so Yehudis (aka Judith, circa 164 B.C.E.) never tasted one. Fried cheese pancakes were enjoyed by Jews, and others, across the Old World until Europeans made contact with the Inca civilization, around 1553 C.E., and brought potatoes back across the Atlantic.

 

This holiday also is a time to give gifts—fabulous, sparkling gifts with faceted, fiery stones. Bringing light into darkness inspires us, so we recommend jewelry that ignites the inner fire of our faith. For a very special lady, our pick is our 14K starburst pendant (SB55). It’s both feminine and fierce, a stellar 14k gold setting with a blazing center diamond. Now, that’s what we call a “Rock of Ages”!

 

For Chanukah, our selection of pendants and bracelets celebrating “Shema Yisrael” is a favorite. We’ve got a number of versions, in sterling silver, gold plate, and 14k gold. This heartfelt verse at the very center of Jewish prayer and Jewish life is captured in fiery calligraphic script, protected by a circle of cubic zirconia that glow by the light of every candle on each of the eight nights. Check out SM12, SM8, or just connect with us here for your free Chanukah gifting consultation!

Shema Israel Sterling Silver Necklace
Shema Yisrael Necklace in Silver

And back to Elvis. When your Chanukah gifting includes something manly, we’re featuring a masculine bracelet on Amazon that puts the Shema at his wrist in a modern mix of glowing pewter and long-wearing genuine leather. White zip-front jumpsuit definitely optional! See it here:

 

 

Why We’re Wearing a Seal of Solomon Necklace

Have you ever received a gift that made you ecstatic?
A gift given to you with the intention to make you feel better?

Before telling about that gift, I wanted to share Art’s story.

Art, a business partner, was feeling a bit down. Things weren’t going in the direction that he wanted, his own business was horribly slow, and he was suffering from back problems. One afternoon, out of nowhere his close friend gave him a necklace and said, “wear this.”

And he did.

Things started picking up– business improved and so did life.

But that necklace, it was falling apart. The plating was coming off, his neck was turning green.
Others with similar necklaces were asking him to repair and re-plate the silver color on their pendants.

There seemed to be a trend.

Men wanted jewelry, and wanted jewelry with meaning.

The two of us, Art and I, started talking about this idea of jewelry that heals from the inside of your soul. We started researching exactly what was this necklace that he was given.

A Seal of Solomon

 

What is a Seal of Solomon and who was Solomon?

 

There are 72 Seals of Solomon, all made by King Solomon from Biblical times. He was perhaps the wisest man who ever lived. Author of not only most of the Book of Proverbs, which has over 3,000 proverbs in it, but the Song of Solomon a collection of love poems, and the Book of Ecclesiastes. G-d gifted King Solomon with unsurpassed wisdom and he ruled Jerusalem for 40 years of peace and much prosperity– he was born in 848 BCE and died at the age of 52 in 796 BCE. 

So, what do the Seals mean?

Solomon, a King, that could speak directly to G-d, was also gifted with the ability to command and control demons and speak to animals. It is said he received a signet ring, with a magical seal and drawing that held supernatural powers.

All in all there are 72 Seals. Each one has its own unique meaning that varies from success to health and recovery to that of love. Each seal empcompasses the cosmic order, the skies, movement of the stars in their spheres, and the perpetual flow between heaven and earth and the elements of air and fire. King Solomon’s Seals combine strength, beauty, symbolism and illustrative quality and all within a geometric figure.

That is a ton of information!

You know, many of the abstract figures and diagrams that were found on these seals are encompassed in all three monotheistic religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. The seals are not religious oriented, but are more centered around the celestial stars and geometrical figures. Basically, a universal symbol for protection that hold magical powers to ward off evil forces, and are not associated with one religion or people.

 

 

So, that is the history behind the Seals. Amazing, right? It’s totally mind-blowing!!

The next task, after we researched the seals, was how to design and create one that is hip, modern in style and durable. We aren’t reinventing the wheel, that was invented a long, long time ago, but what we wanted to do was to make one better.

The first inspiration, besides the seal itself, was creating a frame for the pendant. We chose a wax letter-stamp seal as the border. Then we cast the piece in sterling silver, deciding on a 2 inch diameter.  Silver, being a precious metal,  will prevent discoloration and bring you years of wear and enjoyment.

Which Seals to Use?

We thought long and hard on which two seals to place on the necklace and we came up with one for wealth and honor.  The Fourth Pentacle of Jupiter, taking its wording from Psalm 112:3 “Wealth and Riches are in His house, and His righteousness endureth forever.”  The other is from the Sixth Pentacle of Jupiter, used for protection against all earthly dangers. Surrounding this seal are the Seraph, Kerub, Ariel, and Tharsis; the four Rulers of the Elements from Psalm 22:16 “They pierced my hands and my feet, I may tell all my bones.”

What is the legend of buying or gifting the Seal of Solomon?

The story about gifting this necklace, like the one that began with a gift to Art, is based only on our experience, brought to us by Armenian folklore– we googled and googled it and found no answer on the practices of gifting a Seal. The best answer is really no answer.   Sorry to say.

If you’d like to buy a Seal of Solomon for a loved one, in need of business success and wealth, as well as protection from all earthly dangers, please see our seals online at Amazon. And we’ll keep you posted on more designs to come.

 

Seal of Solomon Sterling Silver Necklace

Recap:

King Solomon Seals were created by King Solomon and are used by all three religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. They allow people to feel an invincible power of ancient knowledge and experience enormous charges of energy. They also help people to reshape their destiny and enhance their quality of life. If you’d like to gift a Seal of Solomon made from the precious metal, sterling silver, we are sharing Alef Bet Jewelry’s link here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s! It’s Not Silver– it’s Pewter?

That looks just like silver, but you’re telling me it isn’t??!!

 

Correct.

 

Pewter is a precious metal, just not as precious as platinum, gold or silver.   It is the 4th most popular metal that is used for jewelry making, so basically the term fine-precious metal is more exact.  That being said, it is used quite a lot in making jewelry that looks and feels just like sterling silver, but at a fraction of the cost.

 

Pewter is a metal that is 90% tin mixed in with a bit of copper and has a very low melting point, which makes it easy to pour into a jewelry mold.  It is also much cheaper than silver or gold, so the price is a lot less.  Many times jewelers will practice the first rendition of a piece of jewelry using pewter.  It also melts rather quickly, at 550 degrees, so it can quickly be tossed back into the fire.

When pewter is high polished, it actually does look like silver.  But, for a much cheaper price.  The ease of caring for it is simple, which is probably why it was so commonly used in many households back in the Middle Ages.  Cups, plates, figurines, but never weapons due to its softness and low melting point, have been found.  When something was “banged” up, they just remelted it and made it over again, as the website Askmrjewelry comments.

The older pewter, or antique pewter, has a beautiful patina finish on it– almost like an oxidized appearance.  This is extremely attractive when combined with leather.

 

Here is an example of how nicely the leather looks with a pewter design.  There is a patina finish on it, making the lettering “pop” so you can see the details nicely.  This happens to be the Shema Israel Hebrew Blessing.

 

Here is another example of a design for men with leather, showing a Jewish Star emblem.

The durability for pewter is also perfect for jewelry, as it does not tarnish and is simple to clean.  Just use a damp cloth with a very small amount of soap and rub it over the metal.  Dry it after, and it is back to “new” again.

Alef Bet’s mens’ pewter and leather collection can be found exclusively on Amazon.com.

To see the entire collection click here.

 

Reciting Prayer for Unity After Las Vegas Tragedy

Hebrew Shema Israel Prayer

As we all awoke to the news in Las Vegas this morning, October 2, 2017, I found myself reciting the Shema Israel prayer.

It just came to my mind.

United

The shooter saw no color, no religion, no nothing… except pure hatred.

Evil

The Shema Israel prayer, says we are all equal, have One G-d. One G-d across many religions, who does not love anyone any less, or anymore.  You can read more about the prayer here.

We are human beings, an inspiring reminder that life is precious, that we are all united.

That we are all ONE.

The hatred and evil acts going on in the world based on hatred only makes us stronger.  I am sure you joined me in watching the broadcasts and hearing about the self-less acts of true heroes helping others.  How people protected others they didn’t know.  How the wait to donate blood is over 8 hours long, how they are turning away donations.  That is the  G-d we know, that is the humanity we know.

Hear Israel, the Lord is Our G-d, the Lord is One.

We are with you Las Vegas, we are with you in this world.

No religion, no color, no politics can divide us. We are equal.

We are ONE. 

How do you feel about the community?  Share you positive experiences with what you have seen around you in this time of tragedy.