Category Archives: Judaism

Oregon Jewish Museum Grand Opening on 6/11/17

On June 11, 2017, the Oregon Jewish Museum will celebrate its grand opening in a new location. The expanded facility is double the size (15,000 sq ft), and will feature galleries for touring and core exhibitions, a 100-seat auditorium, gift shop, and café.

The move will help the museum reach many more people, allowing them to educate about the Holocaust and generations of Jewish life in the Pacific Northwest.

The public is welcome from 12:00-4:00 pm this Sunday and admission will be waived.  

Photo Credit

An Incredible Handcrafted Sculpture from Jewish Gift Place

Giving presents is something I truly enjoy, especially when I can find a gift that fits the recipient’s personality and preferences. Some folks are very easy to shop for, mainly because they like everything. It’s the ones who are picky that make it truly challenging!

My Father-in-Law is one of those difficult folks. He claims he already owns everything and never asks for new stuff. He doesn’t have any specific hobbies, is retired, and doesn’t care about trends.

So, you can see why finding a Father’s Day gift might be driving me just a little bit crazy! Luckily, there is one thing I know for sure that he always appreciates—high quality Judaica.

Since 2007, Jewish Gift Place has been selling handcrafted Judaica. Because each piece is made by hand, no two items are identical, providing a custom feel. Their talented artists are located all around the globe (United States, Israel, Canada, and Brazil), including one of my personal favorites, Gary Rosenthal.

Known for sculpting in welded metals, Gary’s art work is a blend of copper, brass, steel and fused glass. Rooted in tradition, but presented in a contemporary style, his designs have been featured in museums, galleries, and private collections.

This particular sculpture caught my eye because of its uniqueness. The mixed metals provide a sturdy, almost distressed look that’s perfect for the special man in your life. (All the men in mine complain about anything dainty!) Approximately 6 inches tall, it is the ideal size to be displayed on a mantel, desk, or book case. It’s great for year-round use and would make a wonderful addition to any Judaica collection.

Beyond sculptures, Jewish Gift Place features a wide assortment of goods. I love the beautiful jewelry, art, home décor, and ritual items. No matter what the occasion, there is truly something for everyone available. Do keep in mind that because everything is made by hand, orders should be placed in advance. My next purchases will definitely be a decorative box and a pomegranate necklace. (Yes, both for me!)

Want to receive weekly highlights, news about upcoming sales, recently added items, and artist info? Sign up for their newsletter. It’s filled with beautiful pieces and a Shabbat Shalom message as well.

How Yad Sarah’s Sewing Circle Helps Israeli Babies

Anyone who’s ever wanted to make a difference in the world, but didn’t think their “small” efforts would matter should read the following guest post. By turning a hobby into a volunteer position, Rivka ben Zaken has not only helped many people, but also made her own retirement more meaningful.


For many years, I’ve enjoyed sewing, but Yad Sarah taught me how to use my skills to truly connect with people. I’ve been a part of the Sewing Circle for eight years, ever since I retired, and I never imagined I’d find such good friends in my later years, who share my passion for fabric arts.

Before I joined, I’d heard of Yad Sarah, of course. Everyone in Israel knows about them because they are the country’s largest volunteer group, helping one out of every two Israeli families. While they’re usually recognized for lending free medical equipment, the services they offer go way beyond that! Little kids with special needs, for example, enjoy Yad Sarah’s Play Center with its fun games and friendly therapists. Seniors look forward to receiving in-home visits. There is legal aid and even a mobile dental clinic.

Yad Sarah clients and volunteers are old and young, male and female, Jewish, Arab, Christian, recent immigrants, and long-time Sabras. Tourists with disabilities are also assisted. Like a well-made quilt, we are all knitted together in a beautiful mosaic of Israel’s diversity and no one is ever excluded or denied the help they need.

Because Yad Sarah receives no government funding, its entirely dependent on donations. One of the easiest ways to support these vital programs is by purchasing goods we create like handmade baby blankets. Each one is a unique work of art, crafted in soft cotton, various colors, lovely patterns and trimmed with lace.

When I finish sewing a baby blanket I give it a hug, and hope the baby who receives the blanket feels its embrace. They are a joy to make because I know that selling them helps moms and babies. When you order one for a baby or small child you love, both you and they will be a part of this incredible group, too. Together, we can enable Israeli children to have the very best start in life.

About the author:

Rivka ben Zaken, originally from Morocco, lives in Israel. She is the mother of seven grown children. In addition to crafting and sewing, she also volunteers for Yad Sarah once a week as a support group coordinator.

Learn more about Yad Sarah, they services they offer, and the handmade goods they have for sale on the website.

When Hipsters and Hasidim Collide

Jews living in Brooklyn is nothing new, but what’s attracting non-religious “Hipsters” into Crown Heights where Chabad is headquartered? The Jewish Chronicle has an interesting article about how the two groups have collided.

While I believe that divergent ideologies can learn to co-exist in many cases, it’s not always the wisest choice, nor is it the easiest. The difference between the Secular and Orthodox lifestyle is like night and day. Since neither group is likely to switch sides, it will be a miracle if they can learn to live together in harmony.