Doing Good Is Always in Fashion
With fashion that’s fun, flattering and functional, especially for women over 50, the Alembika formula has made the designer clothing company the go-to for thousands of Israeli women, including many who wear larger sizes. Now, the company is trying to gain the same status with their American sisters, starting with Hadassah members.
Alembika recently teamed up with Hadassah Florida and its 45,000-plus members to raise funds to dedicate a pediatric bay in the Round Building at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem. In the process, those members got to sample Alembika dresses, skirts, pants and tops in everything from funky florals and bold stripes to gorgeous tie-dyes and exotic African prints. Many of the dresses and separates are loose and flowy with the ability to move with the wearer.
The partnership began when Yael Edelist, president of Roni Rabl, the United States distributor for Alembika clothing, learned about Hadassah’s work from a friend. “I knew we had a lot in common—Alembika is also always doing tikkun olam, it’s a big part of the agenda,” she said. Indeed, since Alembika’s launch in 2005, the clothing line has donated a portion of each season’s overstock to charity, from refugee centers to battered women’s shelters to a Chabad-run thrift shop in an immigrant neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Before long, Edelist was connected with Lori Heiken, co-managing director of Hadassah Florida, and the two began brainstorming.
In April, 400 tickets were sold to attend one of five Alembika trunk shows held in dress shops throughout South Florida, with Hadassah members acting as models. Ten percent of clothing sales from those shows will fund the pediatric bay. Meanwhile, all ticket holders were entered into a virtual drawing for a trip to Israel, for which Alembika donated two airplane tickets and Boca Express Travel Agency contributed three nights at Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel. In addition, as a thank-you gift, Alembika sent outfits to members whose photos and interviews, taken during the trunk shows, were featured on the company’s blog.
Alembika’s blog is the central meeting place for a growing digital community. “The woman behind the clothes is the real story,” said Edelist. “After 50, everything begins to fall into place. The kids are grown, and we finally have the time, the maturity and the wisdom to become a mentor and to grow in new ways.”
Which is why the blog includes a Zoom Café with guest panelists—for example, a jewelry crafting workshop with artist Debra Rappaport, a senior fashion influencer—as well as its newest feature, The Well, where guest columnists contribute health and mindfulness posts.
According to Jill Davis, Hadassah Florida’s philanthropy chair, Alembika’s “philosophy of women growing old not gracefully but gorgeously, and making their mark on the world, fits in with everything Hadassah stands for.”
That self-affirming philosophy is shared by founding designer Hagar Alembik, who continues to champion her peers’ enjoyment of life. “By the time a woman is 40 or 50, she’s a real woman, not a kid, and she loves to surround herself with beautiful things,” said the 67-year-old Alembik. “This is true for Israeli women and just as true for American ones. They often read the same books, go to the same movies and have many of the same attitudes about life. In fact, they’re more alike than either of them realizes.”
“We’re glad we’re working with an Israeli company, to help the children there,” said Davis. “Because healing sick kids in Israel is where Hadassah’s heart has been since the beginning.” At the same time, she said, “accepting our bodies as beautiful as we age, no matter what, is a women’s empowerment mission we also share. It’s a win-win for everybody.
Deborah Fineblum is an award-winning journalist and book author currently based in Pardes Hanna, Israel.