Hello Mazel, the Jewish subscription box service that became the most popular Jewish Kickstarter of all time after raising over $150,000 in less than a month in early 2016, has stopped operating, according to multiple customers and would-be customers who have tried to reach the company online.
The service, which sought to “make doing Jewish cool again,” according to a promotional video, was developed at The Kitchen, an independent congregation in San Francisco. It operated the business as a nonprofit for about a year, delivering carefully curated packages filled with bespoke, “Jew-ish” items like pistachio halva spread, hand-carved dreidels and Passover Bingo cards to recipients all over the country.
In the summer of 2017, The Kitchen transferred ownership of Hello Mazel to Angel Alvarez-Mapp, a Jewish nonprofit professional based in San Francisco and a member of The Kitchen. On Aug. 2, 2017, he registered the company as a for-profit LLC, according to state business records.
Complaints about the company began to proliferate on social media around November 2018 from customers who said they had made payments online but never received boxes.
Eli Thacker Taylor, a theater director in New York City, said he purchased a subscription in late 2018, never received a box and could not reach the company to get his money back.
“I never got a hold of them, through Tweet or multiple email addresses,” Taylor wrote in a message to J. “My credit card company reimbursed my money.”
Susan King was living in the U.K. in 2016 when she signed up on Hello Mazel to send gift boxes to her daughter Zoe. She saw it as a way to keep her daughter in Michigan connected to her Jewishness. Thus began a two-year, “very happy relationship” with Hello Mazel, King said, with Zoe enjoying her boxes delivered four times a year.
But then in the 2018 fall quarter, there was no delivery. Nothing came for the winter quarter, either. King said she tried to contact the company to get her money back, but to no avail.
Danielle Hayman, a digital marketer in San Diego, had a similar experience. She purchased a subscription online for her father in October 2018, but the box never came, and she received no response when she tried to contact the company at the end of November.
“I tried to contact them via several different email addresses and no response,” she said in a message to J. “I finally requested a charge back from my credit card company.”
Multiple attempts to interview Alvarez-Mapp were unsuccessful.
The company’s last Twitter post came on Aug. 18, 2017. On Sept. 30, 2018, a company account posted to Instagram saying it would be “laying low (digitally speaking) for the Yom Tovim of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.” The Hello Mazel Facebook page has been removed.
Rabbi Noa Kushner of The Kitchen said that the congregation was happy to create Hello Mazel, and wishes it the best.
“We had a great time incubating Hello Mazel and loved building the brand at The Kitchen,” she said by email. “We then handed it off so that it could grow and be even better. Since then, we’ve moved on, and only wish the project moves from strength to strength.”
As of this week, the company’s website remains active and appears to be accepting payments. It offers quarterly gift boxes — $50 plus shipping for one quarter, $95 for two quarters, and $180 for all four quarters.
On June 10, Twitter user @TeamTurner12 wrote that she had purchased a subscription in November but had not heard anything back.
“I emailed with no response and didn’t see any contact info on your website,” she wrote. “Please direct me to someone who can help.”