From table to cupboard to bookshelf, our annual guide to cool and meaningful gifts for Rosh HaShanah, curated by our arts and culture editor.
Everything is Sweet
Serve and enjoy the sweetest honey cakes of the season on a specially designed ceramic cake plate, engraved in Hebrew with the phrase, Hakol Davash, everything is sweet (literally, everything is honey). Featuring the words in a honeycomb pattern, the plates are available in a white or green glaze. The Aesthetic Sense, a distinctive shop specializing in fair-trade gifts with an emphasis on Judaica, now features a Buy for Good Israel Collection, with new items made by hand in Israel by children and adults with developmental, physical or emotional disabilities, or by underprivileged communities, from all religions and ethnicities. The cake plates are made by artisans at Enosh, the Israeli Mental Health Association; support through the purchase of these products helps promote employment and financial well-being.
$65, The Aesthetic Sense, 222 Main St., Mount Kisco, N.Y, (914) 864-1600, theaestheticsense.com.
A Banner Year
On Sukkot, it’s customary to symbolically invite seven exalted historical figures to the sukkah, and traditionally the figures are men. Inspired by this custom of ushpizin, Dov Abramson Studio in Jerusalem, an award-winning art and design studio that specializes in creative projects exploring contemporary Israeli identity, has created a set of 26 laminated posters inviting notable women to the sukkah, ushpizot. Those pictured include biblical figures Eve, Sarah, Miriam, Ruth and Queen Esther, as well as Dona Grazia, Golda Meir, Shoshana Damari, Ofra Haza and others. The posters’ striking designs are also featured on triangular banners, to be strung in the sukkah. Both the posters and banners are now available in English. (Order through Etsy by Sept. 18 for delivery before Sukkot.)
Posters, $22; banners, $24, Dov Abramson Studio, dovabramsonstudio.com
Light a yahrtzeit candle on Yom Kippur inside of this special glass holder, made by a group of artisans in Cape Town, South Africa. The artisans receive tea bags from all over the world that they dry and then use the paper from canvases for their hand-painted designs — and then affix them to glass. When lit, the designs glow beautifully. Following fair-trade standards, the artisans in this workshop are newly able to provide for their families and they have newfound pride in their work. The light holders can also be used as tea lights in a sukkah or elsewhere
$30, The Aesthetic Sense, 222 Main St., Mount Kisco, N.Y., (914) 864-1600, theaestheticsense.com.
Toast the New Year
Make a l’chayim with new stemless glasses designed in Brooklyn by Love and Victory. The 12-ounce glasses — classic and contemporary — are hand-engraved with stars or flowers, like vintage glasses, and are well-shaped for holding and drinking.
$22, Magpie, 488 Amsterdam Ave. (between 83rd and 84th streets), Manhattan, (212) 579-3003, magpienewyork.com.
Bees and Birds
Based in Brooklyn, Raw Bee packages and distributes raw, unadulterated, certified kosher honey in many varieties and also promotes the importance of beekeeping. The company sources honey from artisanal beekeepers around the country, and in everything it does, aims for good flavor as well as benefit. Its Save the Bees Fund, created in 2013, supports programs and organizations involved in research and education focused on bee health, biology and nutrition. CEO Zeke Freeman grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania.
Several varieties — Sweet yellow clover, buckwheat, orange blossom — are available at Zabar’s ($16.98), and other flavors, as well as gift packages, beeswax candles, lip balm and recipes, are online at beeraw.com
Zabar’s, 2245 Broadway (between 80th and 81st streets), (212) 787-3000, zabars.com.
Save the Bees
Made from a flour sack, this hand-printed tea towel with a message in bright yellow is a piece of art, and also a practical cloth that might be used for covering challah, drying dishes, wrapping a gift or many other purposes. From Kei & Molly in Albuquerque, the 100 percent cotton cloth is printed with environmentally friendly ink.
$13, Magpie, 488 Amsterdam Ave. (between 83rd and 84th streets), Manhattan, (212) 579-3003, magpienewyork.com.
Over the Moon
Handmade of solid Pennsylvania cherry wood, with no dyes or resins, these boards by Moonspoon are well suited for serving apples and other fruit, or cheese, or as a small tray for another vessel. The leafy designs, inspired by the natural world, are cut and sanded by hand (designs with stars, moons and flowers are also available). The Upper West Side shop that sells antiques and other gifts has been in business for more than 30 years.
$38, More & More, 378 Amsterdam Ave. (78th Street), Manhattan, (212) 580-8404, moreandmoreantiquesnyc.com.
“Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale” by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Jim Starr (Apples & Honey Press) is a fanciful tale about a Jewish giant who goes about making a giant-sized challah for the holiday, digging a hole in the ground for the mixing bowl. According to Kimmel’s tale, that hole is now the Grand Canyon. The story turns out to be a gentle lesson about the New Year as a time of building and mending. Kimmel is the award-winning author of more than 100 children’s books, and this is Starr’s first go at the genre — it’s a fine collaboration. The final scene features Big Sam and other larger-than-life heroes gathering in a great American scene to share apples, honey and challah.
Based on the story of Genesis, “Adam’s Animals” by Barry L. Schwartz, illustrated by Steliyana Doneva (Apples & Honey Press) is a midrashic retelling of Adam, in the beginning, naming the animals. He’s then “at a loss for words” when Eve appears. Young children will enjoy the colorful pictures of animals, including the matamata and the meerkat, lining up to get their names.
Each $17.95, available at bookstores.
Help West Side Judaica stay open. The shop, with its helpful salespeople, features a huge selection of shofars as well as books, apple-and-honey dishes, calendars, books, games, Judaica of all kinds.
West Side Judaica, 2412 Broadway (between 88th and 89th streets), Manhattan, (212) 362-7846.
Hurricane Harvey Relief Funds
Donate the cost of your holiday meals to help those in Houston affected by the Harvey flooding. Consider Houston Food Bank, Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, UJA/Federation of New York; Neshama: Jewish Response to Disaster.