Once upon a time most gifts were handmade. That’s because most people didn’t have enough money to go out and shop around for a special occasion for a special person. So, womenfolk baked a cake or hand-stitched something to be worn, while the men, after their exhausting daily stint in the mineshaft or the fields, would spend their evenings whittling away at a toy or decorative item. For people with some money to spare (and in the olden days it was invariably only the landed gentry or the few emerging businessmen) they would go to special shops in the bigger cities and gush over the pitifully (by today’s standards) few items on display. The very rich could hire an artistic goldsmith to create some fabulous item which would then be handed down from generation to generation as a heirloom, and many of which, today are displayed behind showcases in prestigious museums.
But nowadays things are no longer that simple. With countless shops displaying incredible merchandise from all over the world there really is no excuse not to find something quite breathtaking for that special person.
But strangely, what often happens is that we spend hours thinking about what might be suitable and then more hours roaming the shopping centers. Also modern sophistication has presented us with mail order pamphlets and the internet.
So, nowadays, instead of just baking a cake or carving a crib, we often end up – after hours of searching – simply stuffing in the anxious hand of our recipient, an envelope containing a gift voucher. Having discovered the gift voucher many people make it a habit. And it’s not really a bad habit.
But it does take away some of the joy of giving – and receiving.
And Jews are like everyone else. Many go through the same motions as the rest of the population. But if you are thinking of buying something special for that special person, and if he is Jewish you might have another avenue. Especially if your Jew appreciates tradition.
The answer lies in what’s called "Judaica" or "Jewish ceremonial art." It’s something that has existed for thousands of years. It’s been a particularly hot subject for the last thirty years, with the emergence of many talented and imaginative designers, craftsmen and industrialists. We’re talking about all those items one finds in many Jewish homes, whether they are religiously observant or not. The range is wide, from Sabbath candlesticks to etrog boxes and Torah pointers, and yet another score of items – that come in various sizes and designer styles as well as prices to suit the pocket book of most people.
Giving a handcrafted item of Judaica shows without any doubt that you really care for someone. It will be used and cherished for the next few generations at least. No one tosses Judaica into the garbage can or the basement.
This website has many pages on the subject of Judaica, with scores of links to the finest — to the greatest even — of craftsmen and designers in the world.
Even if you are the type of person who still gives gifts in the form of a cake or a whittled toy, the chances are that you’ll find many items of interest in the following pages or in our links to other sites.
Jewish Wedding Gift
Ever since people became betrothed other people wracked their brains to think what to give them as gifts. Here you can read about some nice gift ideas for Jewish wedding…
What should we get for a Jewish kid who is about to celebrate his or her religious coming-of-age? get some ideas for Bat Mitzvah and Bar Mitzvah Gifts.
A list of my recommended Judaica stores, where you can buy wonderful Jewish gifts for any occasion.