From San Mateo to South Africa, Jewish arts and crafts abound at Israeli-style shuk

Come for the music, come for the food — but don’t miss the arts and crafts, says Rhoda Wolfe, co-chair of the shuk, or Israeli marketplace, at Israel in the Gardens.

“We’ll have jewelry, ceramics, books, Judaica — the whole gamut, including items from Israel,” says Wolfe, whose co-chair, Andy Greenberg, has headed up the arts and crafts area for several years.

 

Kippahs made out of recycled cans from South Africa (above), handcrafted wooden gragger from Bangalore (below) and “Jewish Blessings Flags” from Nepal (below left) are among the Judaica for sale. photos/courtesy of fair trade judaica

“We have 30 vendors,” Wolfe says, “several from past years and many new artists, almost all of them local.” She adds that there will be lots of jewelry, ranging from ethnic pieces to jewelry made from antique buttons.

Sara Navon will bring jewelry crafted by Haim Hoshen, an Israeli artist who uses Swarovski crystal beads, stained glass and semiprecious stones in his necklaces, earrings, bracelets and brooches.

She also will have Judaica items, such as hamsas and Stars of David. Navon, who lives in Greenbrae, represents Hoshen, who lives in Tel Aviv. (See www.haimhoshen.com/)

Navon is an Israeli who has been in the United States for 20 years. She began working as an artists’ rep eight years ago, doing business as SAbRA.

“I am sabra and my artists are sabra,” Navon says. “I represent a few other artists as well, but mostly Haim. He uses a lot of different colors in his jewelry, and you always feel unique and special when you wear it.” The jewelry ranges from $25 to $475.

Sherrie Friedman of San Mateo will sell her handmade cards and collages crafted from rice paper and incorporating small charms from Israel. This is her second year at Israel in the Gardens.

“Selling is fine, but for me, that’s secondary to meeting people,” she says. “Last year, someone bought a set of 12 of my cards to give to board members at a congregation in San Jose, and I was delighted that my work was going someplace it would be appreciated.”

Friedman first made the cards and collages for family and friends, who urged her to make her work more widely available. “I did it just for fun at first,” she says. “Then I took a class at the Center for the Book in San Francisco on making hand-marbled paper, so now sometimes I start with that. I usually stick with the Star of David or chai, and people may interpret or use the cards and collages the way they want.”

Friedman’s cards cost from $8 to $20, and some framed special–occasion collages cost up to $100. She also crafts watercolor bookmarks for children, which are priced at $5. She is looking forward to Israel in the Gardens. “Last year was fantastic, such a friendly audience and an opportunity to see people I haven’t seen in a long time.”

Fair Trade Judaica will make its first appearance at the event. “We’re bringing mezuzahs from Guatemala, hand-painted wooden graggers made in India and Jewish blessings flags made in Nepal,” says Ilana Schatz, Fair Trade Judaica founding executive director. She lives in El Cerrito.

The blessings flags were inspired by trips Schatz has made to the Himalayas, where she saw Tibetan prayer flags blowing in the wind. A set of Jewish blessings flags, which sells for $18, celebrates seven key values in the Jewish tradition: love, compassion, lovingkindness, peace, healing, respect and justice. The colors and imagery are based on ancient Jewish tradition. (See www.fairtradejudaica.org.)

Kippahs made in South Africa from recycled soda pop cans, available in a variety of “flavors,” and perforated paper banners from Mexico, known as papel picado, also will be for sale. “We have mini-banners that say ‘Shalom’ or ‘Mazel Tov’ or have a spiritual theme,” Schatz adds.

Most of the items range  from $5 to $25. “With Fair Trade, the products are affordable, but you also know that the artisans are being paid well,” Schatz says. Fair Trade Judaica merchandise is not available in stores, but is sold online, at exhibits and special events.

“We are thrilled to be invited,” Schatz says, “and looking forward to it.”