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.
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?