What Gift Do You Give at a Jewish Wedding?
As the summer heats up, our calendars start filling with weddings and celebrations and our heads start spinning with worry over finding the perfect gifts.
Between MyJewishLearning’s editors, we’ve gone to enough weddings (both our own and others’) to be able to give some advice. So we’ve gotten together to share the most successful gifts we’ve given and received. We hope our picks can ease your gift-giving angst!
Friday Night Essentials
Shabbat begins with candle-lighting and the accompanying blessings and rituals, which present great opportunities for useful gifts.
Judaica To Round Out a Jewish Home
Whether the newlyweds are looking forward to hosting Passover seders or they’re going to be having guests for Hanukkah, now is a great time to help them build up their Judaica collection.
Filled with brand-new dishes and cookware, a newlyweds’ kitchen is a great place to experiment with recipes. Here are some of our top picks:
We hope our guide helps you navigate through the whirlwind that is wedding season.
And since MyJewishLearning, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that relies on donations and revenue-raising, we’ll receive a percentage of the proceeds of any purchase you make using our links.
Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a hearty “mazel tov,” from all of us.
Father’s Day is just around the corner, and if your dad is anything like ours, he’s probably pretty tough to shop for. Fortunately we’ve got you covered with a variety of gifts for our favorite kinds of dads.
MyJewishLearning, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization and receives a percentage of the proceeds of any purchase you make using our links. Happy Father’s Day to you and the fathers in your life!
MyJewishLearning is an umbrella of pluralistic, nondenominational Jewish websites and blogs, and we’re looking for an intern for support with a variety of tasks, both on the business and editorial sides of our publications, which include Jewniverse and a variety of blogs. We’re looking for a solid writer with an interest in Jewish culture and history on the one hand, and who is eager to learn some of the nitty-gritty of online marketing and business on the other.
Familiarity with WordPress and Photoshop is a plus.
The internship is available immediately and would last at least through the end of August. The position is 10-15 hours a week and pays $10 per hour. Applicants must be available to come into our Midtown Manhattan office. To apply, send resume and cover letter explaining your interest working for MJL to email@example.com with “Internship” in the subject.
UPDATE: The summer position has been filled, but check back in for future openings!
At the Passover Seder we have the Four Children, so it seems only right that on Mother’s Day we should have the Four Moms. Except, really, how do you divide all moms into just 4 categories? So we added a 5th, and are suggesting some gifts to help you keep the guilt trips at bay.
Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 12th. Order today and get it in time to give to your mom, whichever of these categories she exemplifies or defies!
Not every mom is a jewelry-lover, but if yours is, you can’t do better than this stunning and simply beautiful purple leaf pendant necklace made in Israel ($141). We love how elegant and chic it is.
We love this awesome Family Tree Wall Clock ($20) that has room for you to add 12 pictures from your family, 1 for every hour of the day. It’s a nice way to acknowledge your big mixed family while maintaining some design flair.
Even if you’re not into attachment parenting, this popular Ergo carrier ($129.95) is an amazing (and comfortable) way to carry your baby and keep your hands free. Plus, it’s cute and made of organic cotton.
If your mom has gotten into yoga or pilates, we suggest you surprise her with the deluxe Manduka Pro Mat. ($80-$138) It’s the mat serious yogis dream about – and yogis say you really can tell the difference.
The Old School Mom
Is your mom active in her synagogue’s sisterhood, president of her local Hadassah chapter, and maker of the all time best coffee cake in the universe? Then we suggest you go in with your siblings to get this trio of fantastic cookbooks:
The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook ($24)
Classic, beautifully photographed Jewish favorites, with a contemporary twist, by one of MyJewishLearning’s favorite young food writers.
Aromas of Aleppo ($31)
Most of Syria’s Jewish community left the country during the 20th century. This gorgeous cookbook captures some of their rich, tantalizing culinary heritage.
and Jerusalem: A Cookbook ($20)
One of our favorites this year, by the Israeli-Palestinian duo sweeping bestseller lists with their healthful, glorious Jerusalem cuisine.
Despite its associations with the verdant spring, the way we tend to observe Passover is anything but green. So we’re offering this guide to making your Passover less wasteful and more sustainable, from green cleaning products to recycled wine glasses. “Like” it to share it with your friends. We hope it’s helpful!
Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies
There are some great green and eco-friendly cleaning supplies out there to help you rid your home of hametz. Simple Green is an all purpose cleaner ($11.75), and there’s also Free and Clear ($5.49). We also love these Full Circle sponges and brushes made from recycled products ($19.99), and these microfiber eco-friendly Cleaning Cloths ($6.99).
Recycled and Reusable Tableware
These greener and reusable dishes and pans wed the convenience of disposable with the conscience of sustainable. Preserve Everyday Tableware offers recycled, dishwasher-safe sets of 4 plates, cups, and bowls ($17.95), 24-count cutlery sets ($12.83), and 3 nested mixing bowls for $21.63. Or, try this set of beautiful bamboo dishes that are single-use, but totally biodegradable ($24.99).
Shatterproof and Recycled Wine Glasses & Accessories
For the wine at your seder table we suggest these recyclable and shatterproof wine glasses (4 for $12.95) or these recycled glass wine glasses (6 for $61.75). And if you’re looking to bring some rustic class to your brisket, we love this serving tray made out of an old wine barrel ($55). And how about this wooden handled corkscrew ($10.03) to open your wine?
Organic and Sustainable Kosher Wine
Kosher organic wine is hard to find, but this guide has helped us make our picks. For white, try Yarden Chardonnay ($16.99) or Baron Herzog White Zinfandel, ($7.99) (Baron Herzog is not certified organic, but many of their wines come from “sustainably grown/low spray” grapes.) For red, we love Barkan Cabernet Savignon, ($10.19) and Elvi Mati Rioja Tempranillo ($21.99).
We hope you enjoy the selection as much as we do! And check out our Classic Passover 2013 Gift Guide for our favorite seder plates, matzah covers, and seder essentials.
MyJewishLearning, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, receives a percentage of the proceeds of any Amazon purchase you make using these links.
Whether you’re hosting your own seder and looking for a new matzah cover, or going to someone else’s and want to bring them a great gift, we’ve come up with our top picks of seder basics and some special items to spruce things up. Enjoy!
We’re offering dozens of wonderful seder plate options at all price points, but we especially love this classic silver seder plate ($278), this pomegranate themed stainless steel seder plate ($119) and this show-stopping Jerusalem stone seder plate with blue cups and illuminated Hebrew text ($385).
If you can’t invest in a seder plate, a matzah cover is a more affordable but still beautiful and useful gift for yourself or your host. This simple elegant design features olive branches and pomegranates ($35). There’s also dozens by popular Israeli artist Yair Emanuel, including this painted silk cover with red sea imagery ($27) and this raw silk cover with bird applique ($76). If you’re looking for something with a more modern aesthetic, we like this round white cover, with mod-looking lettering ($54).
Matzah covers are only used at the seders and maybe on Shabbat, but a matzah plate or holder is useful all week. We like this metal and wood holder that has the matzah standing up like record albums ($60). This nickel and wood plate is very classy and charming ($35). We also love this glass matzah plate with gold and blue ($39), and this tin matzah box decorated with pomegranates ($19).
Haggadot & Books
The obvious Passover book choice is a haggadah, and there are endless options. For a family with young children, we love Joyous Haggadah: The Illuminated Story of Passover, which is comic-book style ($8.95); for slightly older children A Night to Remember: The Haggadah of Contemporary Voices ($16.20) is fantastic; and another great one is Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander’s New American Haggadah ($19.79). If you tend more towards fiction when giving gifts, why not try the classic Exodus by Leon Uris ($7.99) (it’s not really about the Passover story, but it’s still pretty relevant and a fun read).
Finally, when you’ve got a holiday so focused on wine, why not bring a wine-related gift. This Metrokane Vertical Rabbit Corkscrew makes opening any bottle a breeze ($45). This set of six bottle stoppers in bright colors is fun and very functional ($14.99), much like these Passover wine charms, that help guests be sure which glass is theirs ($40). And there’s also this beautiful wall-mounted wine rack, for storing the leftovers ($30).
We hope you enjoy the selection as much as we do! The MyJewishLearning store has literally thousands of items for holidays and any time of year, and MyJewishLearning, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, receives a percentage of the proceeds of any gift you buy.
Happy early Passover to you and yours!
Purim 2013 is on its way! Starting the evening of Saturday, February 23rd, the holiday that celebrates the clever salvation of Persia’s Jews is nearly upon us. Are you ready to make some noise, get dressed up, give gifts, and donate to charity? Don’t worry; we can help.
Make Some Noise / Groggers
The classic Purim accessory is a noisemaker, used to block out Haman’s name during the megillah reading on Purim eve and Purim day. We love this whimsical grogger in the shape of a Hasid, this silly clown grogger that comes with a display stand, this hand-painted grogger that depicts Jerusalem and has two separate noisemakers, and this simple and affordable tricolor wooden grogger.
|Hasid Grogger with stand, $280||Clown Grogger with stand, $280||Jerusalem Grogger with stand, $28||Simple wooden grogger, $3|
Get Dressed Up / Costumes
It’s long been customary to dress up in costumes on Purim. You can go the traditional route, and get yourself this awesome nun costume, the perfect ironic getup for any megillah reading. It goes perfectly with this monk costume. Or you can go quick and easy with this beautiful (and realistic) unicorn mask, or this comprehensive set of mustaches, lips and glasses on a stick, which allow you to mix and match your costume as the holiday progresses.
|Deluxe Nun Costume, $63.75||Medieval Monk Costume, $28.99||Magical Unicorn Mask, $23.77||30-piece Mustache-on-a-stick set, $59.99|
Give Gifts / Mishloach Manot
You might not associate gift-giving with Purim, but in fact it’s right there in the megillah, where we read that on the day that the Jews were saved from Haman’s clutches Mordechai decreed that Shushan’s Jews should “send portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.” Check out these great, kosher pre-assembled “portions,” like this one with peanut butter cups, English toffee, chocolate covered pretzels, and more. We also love this blue and white basket, with chocolates, hamantaschen, and blue Terra chips. If you’re going to make your own mishloach manot, try including some lovely Wissotzky Tea and a little honey stick.
|Kosher Gift Arrangement, $26.95||Purim Basket: True Blue Temptation, $54.99||Wissotzky Tea, from $3.99||100 Honey Sticks, $23.80|
Give Gifts / Books
A good book is always an appropriate Jewish gift. On Purim, you can go back to the source text, and get your friend a copy of the JPS Commentary on Esther, which is comprehensive and fascinating. For the kids, there’s the new and wonderful The Purim Superhero. And for the fiction lover in your life, we highly recommend The Gilded Chamber, a novelization of the story of Esther, and Good for the Jews, a modern retelling set is Madison, Wisconsin.
|JPS Commentary on the Book of Esther, $26.40||The Purim Superhero, $7.55||The Gilded Chamber, $13.60||Good for the Jews, $12.48|
Donate to Charity / Tzedakah
A central component of celebrating Purim is giving tzedakah, money to the poor. Why not make a donation in honor of your friends to a local food pantry, Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, American Jewish World Service, the Joint Distribution Committee, Yad Eliezer: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Israel, or JBFCS which supports Jews struggling with alcohol and drug dependency? And you can also always support our work here at MyJewishLearning.com, a not-for-profit organization.
Happy Purim to you and yours!
The High Holidays are over and Thanksgiving is around the corner. That can only mean one thing here at MyJewishLearning: We’re thinking about the very fun (and very American) tradition of Hanukkah gift-giving!
Here’s a handy tour through our staff’s top picks from our new Hanukkah Store, handily divided into categories.
First things first: Menorahs! Whether you prefer ultramodern or ultra-traditional, the MJL Hanukkah Store has a menorah for you. Here are four of our top picks, in materials ranging from wood to copper to cement, from the beautiful blue one below to the handy travel menorah you can fold up and throw in your tote bag on your way out of town:
But menorahs are only the first step. What candles will you light? What dreidels will you spin? And why can you never find a kippah when you need one? We’ve got you covered. Here our four of our favorite Hanukkah accessories. We particularly love the gorgeous Safed candles, the Bezalel Art School dreidel, and how reasonably priced the kippot are. You can stock up for your whole family!
Perhaps you, like many of us, do most of your Hanukkah shopping for kids. Check out our fully stocked children’s page, and consider our top picks, from the gorgeous wooden camel puzzles, which function as decor as much as toys, to the wildly popular personalizable name necklaces, an interactive songbook, and more:
For the Home:
Hanukkah can also be a great time to doll up your home, and from Israeli art and handicrafts to challah covers, from hamsas to mezuzahs, it was hard to choose just four. But our favorite may just be the Sterling Silver Crepe Shabbat Candlesticks–we love their textured, organic feel:
And if you’re looking to buy something for a special lady (yourself?), we have hundreds of possibilities, from brooches to tallitot to handbags. Here are our editors’ favorite four. (Two of us are already sporting the peacock earrings!):
Is it just us, or can men can be really hard to shop for? We’ve tried to help you narrow it down. In addition to accessories like tie clips and cufflinks, we’re also offering a full line of teffilin and Star of David necklaces, and more. (And check out that sterling silver USB drive!):
For the Host:
Last but not least, the question that can have you second-guessing yourself for days: What on earth do you give to your host? Olive oil from Israel would make a memorable, not to mention useful, gift, and the decorative items are unique enough to use as artwork, but neutral enough to work in anyone’s home. Here are four great options:
We hope you enjoy the selection as much as we do! The MJL store has literally thousands of items for holidays and any time of year, and MyJewishLearning, Inc., a non-profit organization, receives a percentage of the proceeds of any gift you buy.
Happy shopping, and happy Hanukkah to you and yours!
Three years ago, Mary Ruth, who attended church her entire life, began to think about Judaism. It was something she couldn’t quite explain – a tug towards a religion she didn’t fully understand, but a strong tug, nonetheless. She wanted to look into conversion, but didn’t really know where to begin – Mary Ruth lives in rural Michigan, an hour from the nearest synagogue and two hours from the nearest rabbi.
Then, she discovered MyJewishLearning.com. Mary Ruth started visiting the website daily, first to learn the basics – holidays and rituals, the central narratives of Judaism, the weekly Torah portions. As her conversion process got underway, she delved deeper, signing up for MyJewishLearning’s e-newsletters, making traditional Jewish recipes she found on the site, and taking quizzes to test her knowledge.
Today, Mary Ruth is Jewish. She is committed to her faith and passionate about the Jewish people.
In her own words: “I love being Jewish more than life itself, and I couldn’t have completed my conversion without the help of MyJewishLearning.com.”
MyJewishLearning is a non-profit organization that depends on donations from people like you to cover 85% of its operating budget. For the last 10 years, MyJewishLearning has helped people like Mary Ruth learn about and connect with Judaism. Help make sure we’re here for the next 10 years by making a tax-deductible donation today.
Guillermo works in the oil and gas industry, a career path that placed him smack dab in the middle of rural Canada. If the location wasn’t a big enough challenge, Guillermo’s busy schedule made it impossible for him to attend synagogue or be a part of a Jewish community.
Or so he thought. When his girlfriend sent him to MyJewishLearning.com, he found just what he was looking for.
“I work in a remote area,” Guillermo told us, “so by frequently visiting MyJewishLearning.com, I can still feel connected to the Jewish tradition, and keep up with the Jewish calendar.”
Guillermo started by by reading the weekly Torah portion commentaries on MyJewishLearning and studying the Jewish holidays. Soon he discovered the depths of what MyJewishLearning had to offer, exploring the Jewish history section and beefing up his knowledge of Jewish culture and rituals.
“MyJewishLearning.com helps me grow in understanding the tradition, religion, and spirituality,” Guillermo said.
Now, Guillermo’s career has moved him once again, this time to a more urban area with an actual Jewish community. Yet Guillermo still finds himself frequenting the virtual learning space of MyJewishLearning, knowing that the path to deepening his understanding of the Jewish faith has always been right at his fingertips.
MyJewishLearning is a non-profit organization that depends on donations from people like you to cover 85% of its operating budget. For the last 10 years, MyJewishLearning has helped people like Guillermo learn about and connect with Jewish life. Help make sure we’re here for the next 10 years by making a tax-deductible donation today.