Gifts + Judaica
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A Glass You Won’t Want to Stomp on
What is the flavor of Hanukka? If you asked designer Lolita, her answer would be 1 part Chardonnay, 1 part passion fruit juice and 1/2 part Grand Marnier—mixed and poured into her hand-painted Hanukka wine glass.
Lolita—known only by her first name—has been theme-painting martini and wine goblets since 2000, and her Hanukka creation, also available in a martini glass, is her first Jewish offering. Each vessel comes with an original cocktail recipe painted on the bottom. Some of Lolita’s wilder designs are Pink Cheetah, Divorce-tini and Stiletto. Consult the Web site www.designsbylolita. com for store locations.
Asked what inspired her Hanukka wine- cocktail recipe, Lolita said, “Definitely the jelly donuts! Hence the passion fruit and Grand Marnier in the cocktail.” —Libby Barnea.
From Spinning Dreidls to Spun Sugar
Master sugar artist Deborah Bonelli might have found the tastiest way to inspire interest in the Jewish holidays among children 3 and up. In 2005, she started Nosh Art (www.noshart.com); through her company, individuals and institutions such as synagogues and community centers hire her to run holiday-themed food- design classes—popular ones are Tu B’Shevat Fruits and Seder Plate Symbols—or order custom-made kits, from Spinning Dreidls to Purim Punim on Parade. New this season is the Munchy Crunchy Menorah kit (above).
Bonelli has found that hands-on nosh preparation—ingredients range from cookies and pretzels to icing, candies and sprinkles—encourages heightened enthusiasm for Jewish learning in children. “They’re creating with taste, texture and color,” she says. “They become completely absorbed. Teachers and parents always comment on how focused and intent the students are in creating their projects.”
In addition to her classes and kits, Bonelli also custom decorates bar and bat mitzva cakes. —L.B.
The Hanukka menora traditionally symbolizes the Jewish struggle for freedom, and now the Simon Wiesenthal Center (www.wiesenthal.com) has come up with a menora to represent American freedom from foreign oil despots.
Artists have designed an elegant crystal menora, with each candleholder inscribed with the laser-cut symbol of an alternative energy source: biofuel, electric car, wind power, clean coal, nuclear, natural gas, solar and water.
“The Energy Alternative Menorah (TEAM) will remind us that we need a modern miracle to meet our greatest national security priority, reducing our dependence on imported oil,” said center founder Rabbi Marvin Hier.
A complimentary TEAM menora will be sent to each of the country’s 50 governors as part of the center’s long-range educational program to raise awareness about energy independence. —Tom Tugend
Art as Remembrance
When Andrea Strongwater, a 60-year-old New York artist, was sorting her deceased mother’s belongings two years ago, she found a French book from 1980 with thousands of postcards picturing Jewish life before World War II.
Starting with four black-and-white photos from the book and then relying on other vintage postcards, Strongwater has now painted in vivid color 23 synagogues destroyed during the Holocaust (Marienbad). She has researched an additional 18 and hopes to re-create countless more.
Her goal is to “inspire the imagination,” she says, by showing great cultural centers in their glory and providing a survey of what once existed.
She has been commissioned to paint two synagogues by people searching for their family’s European heritage, and a French organization plans to archive the originals in Israel. Strongwater sells prints of each painting accompanied by notes about the synagogue and its community (www.leolicensing.com/Strongwater/ASBio.htm). —Sara Trappler Spielman
A Colorful Light Onto the Nation
Music thunders and the 1,000-year-old walls of a former Crusader fortress are suddenly awash in images from Jerusalem’s history—among them, the arrival of the queen of Sheba’s entourage bearing silks and gold, the orange glow of fire during the destruction of the Second Temple and legions of invading horsemen—in what is being billed as the largest sound and light show in the world.
The show, “The Night Spectacular–Jerusalem Lights the Night” at the Tower of David in the Old City of Jerusalem, is also being promoted as one of Israel’s newest tourism draws and will be running year-round, with extra showings over the summer and during holidays (www.tower ofdavid.org). “This is cutting-edge technology being put to use in the most beautiful place in the world,” says Shosh Yaniv, director of the Tower of David. The $2.5-million spectacle, funded by the Jerusalem municipality, the Tourism Ministry and the Jerusalem Foundation, “speaks to all the senses,” she adds. —Dina Kraft
Itil, Long-lost Khazar Capital, Said to Be Found
A thousand years ago, Khazaria, ruled by Turkish converts to Judaism, was the superpower of the age, spanning lands from the Ukraine to Kazakhstan. In the 10th century, its cities were destroyed by the Rus, the Scandinavian raiders who formed the original nobility of Russia; with little physical evidence of its existence, Khazaria faded into legend.
Last September, archaeologists Dmitry Vasilyev of Astrakhan State University and Emma Zilivinskaya of the Russian Academy of Sciences announced they had found Itil, the capital of Khazaria, in Astrakhan’s Samosdelskoye ruins. The nine-year dig, sponsored by the Russian Hebrew Congress (REK), uncovered several layers of ruins, including a Golden Horde town and a Bulgar city. Beneath them were the remains of a Khazar metropolis burnt down in the 10th century; the Rus set fire to Itil in the 960s. The ruins, a city bisected by riverbeds with a central island citadel of fired brick, match written accounts of Itil. (Only the kings used brick, noted Vasilyev.)
In an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti, REK’s Evgeniy Satanovsky said that the Khazar nation, with its federated structure and peacefully coexisting religions, can be a model for modern Russia. —Norman J. Finkelshteyn
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