An Artisanal Chanukah


Handcrafted in Haiti, the Blue Bird of Happiness menorah features graceful birds perched in a tree of life. The artist, Jhonson Augustin of Croix des Bouquets, cut open 55-gallon drums, pounded them and chiseled his original designs. Augustin apprenticed to a master artisan when he was a child, and now mentors others in his fair trade workshop, Comité Artisanal Haitien (CAH), which has been working since 1973 to help rural craftspeople sell their wares. Augustin speaks of a “chain of blessing” from the artisans to CAH to Ten Thousand Villages to people celebrating Chanukah in their homes.

Ten Thousand Villages has shops in Princeton and Highland Park, N.J., and other places,, $150.

In the style of Russian Matryoshka dolls that nest one inside another in declining sizes, these three nesting dreidels are deep blue and made by 3-D printing, with the letter nun, gimel, hey and shin incorporated into the cut-out geometric patterns. Inside the larger dreidel is a smaller one, and inside that one is a top. The set is designed in Israel by Studio Armadillo and produced in the United States.

The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave. (at 92nd St.), $68, members $61.20.

When your guests tire of playing dreidel, try Pasta Time, a new game from Tops Malibu featuring 108 questions designed to inspire conversation. The leading questions come on long strips of paper that resemble long flat noodles, in categories of spicy, cheesy, meaty and saucy. The Oregon-based company’s mission is to create “products that provoke thought, interaction, laughter, and merriment.”

Magpie, 488 Amsterdam Ave. (83rd-84th), $21.

Enjoy oil made from the oldest known olive in the world, the Nabali, grown in Moshav Sde Moshe by the Tamir family, which has been involved in growing olives and grapes for over three generations. The rocky land in the northern Negev is well suited to agriculture with its rich soil and clean air; all the harvesting is done by hand and the olive trees are never sprayed. The oil, from Ptora, was showcased in the 2015 New York International Olive Oil Competition and won first place out of 750 applicants. It has “a rich fruity taste, with peppery hints that imbue it with a moderate spiciness. This gift set from includes a 750 ml bottle of olive oil along with Ptora’s Wild Land, an aromatic spice blend and Black Olive Tapenade, great for spreading on fresh bread. All products are kosher certified., $49.99 (Jewish Week readers will receive 10 percent off using discount code “WeLoveJW”).

Crafted by Kenyan artists out of recycled trash, the Holding Hands menorah is cheerful and colorful, accentuating the fellowship in Chanukah celebration. The menorah is designed and produced by a fair trade group called Swahili African Modern.

The Aesthetic Sense, 222 Main St, Mt Kisco, N.Y., $105.

For babies, here’s a Chanukah onesie, with bright dreidels lined up on a black background. Rabbi Yael Buechler, who created Midrash Manicures, designed the 100-percent cotton one-piece outfit for her son Lev, who’s modeling here.

West Side Judaica, 2412 Broadway (88th-89th), or $26.

Whole tea leaves, herbs and spices are sourced from around the world, and combined in the Galilee to create flavorful blends of tea. Efrat and Elli Schorr, originally from Washington, D.C., run Ceremonie Tea, with a passion to create great tea and “make the world a better place, one cup of tea at a time.” Their colorful gift box includes 12 mini-cubes (with mesh sachets inside); flavors include Indian Chai, Ginger Peach, English Breakfast, Moroccan Mint Green, Citronella Green, Lemongrass & Verbena and Peppermint & Wild Berry, with kosher certification.

The Purple Bow, 1444 Queen Anne Rd, Teaneck, N.J., or, $16.

Make the great city of New York your centerpiece with the New York Cube (NYCube), a block of recycled wood that opens up to reveal three-dimensional renderings of iconic buildings like the Flatiron Building, the Chrysler Building, Freedom Tower and others. The pieces can be rearranged into a pencil holder, card holder or paperweight, or fitted together like a puzzle. Inspired by his own background as a refugee, Mirza Tihic, Bey Designs’ founder and a professor of entrepreneurship at Syracuse University,

decided to manufacture the cubes in Srebenica, Bosnia, in an effort to support artisanship and economic efforts after the devastating events of the 1990s. The cubes, made of wood including maple, walnut, pine, oak and cherry, are the first product of the company, which is committed to creating both social and economic value.

Magpie, 488 Amsterdam Ave. (83rd-84th), $30.

If we eat latkes on Passover, why not matzah brei on Chanukah? While shopping for gifts of all kinds at the Bryant Park Winter Village, stop by Matzahbrei, a booth headed by a pair of Israelis. The two came up with a sandwich that hasn’t yet been served in New York: savory fillings between two pieces, well they’re more like crepes, of matzah brei. The sandwiches, in several varieties, are made round and then cut in half for serving. The “Xavier” includes avocado, a four-cheese blend and peach-mango salsa, and the “Yannis” is layered with beets, roasted peppers, mint and tahini sauce. Also on the menu are sides of tabouleh and gezer (carrot salad with scallions, pecan, cranberries and citrus peel), plus hot and cold drinks. The distinctive food is vegetarian and upon request vegan. (Kosher certification is pending.) The founders of this new company, Eyal Bau Cohen and Sagi James Shahar, who met in high school in Tel Aviv, love the taste of matzah, the memories it evokes, and its symbolism as the bread of freedom.

Matzah brei sandwich, Bryant Park, $10.

Save coins for a good cause in this wooden tzedakah box, decoupaged with a map of Israel, with small feet elevating it from a table surface. Rita Brownstein does all the work by hand in Connecticut.

The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave. (at 92nd St.), $32, $28.80 museum members.

Spread the light: Donate funds and help HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) welcome, resettle and protect refugees. See the organization’s website — HIAS is the oldest resettlement agency in the world — for opportunities to volunteer, whether serving as a conversation partner or translator, joining a letter writing campaign for asylum seekers in detention, or providing pro bono legal assistance to HIAS clients.

HIAS, 411 Fifth Ave., Suite 1006, or