Annual Hanukkah Gift and Craft Fair to Be Held Sunday, December 9
At Temple Micah's annual craft fair last year, a member walked up to the booth displaying the work of a fellow congregant and exclaimed, "I've known you for 20 years and had no idea you made jewelry! It's beautiful!" And she bought a pair of sparkly dichroic glass earrings. That scene or something like it was repeated many times around the room.
The Hanukkah Gift and Craft Fair--scheduled for Sunday, Dec 9--shows off a different side of the congregation, and thus helps to build the community, deepen friendships and form new relationships, according to craft show chair Ellen Sommer, who runs the temple's Judaica shop. "One of the things I like best about Temple Micah is that the people are so interesting and creative," she said. "I might be surprised at what medium somebody's working in, but I'm not surprised that they're making art."
Temple board member Lynn Bonde, for example, who is better known around Micah as a retired hospice administrator, makes scarves, hats and other accessories out of yarn and felt.
"It's fun to show a different part of myself to my friends in the congregation," she said. "I meet new people and can make a contribution in a new way. When I see folks wearing my creations, it makes me happy to have contributed somehow to their lives."
Those are some of the intangible benefits of the annual show. But the craft fair has very practical dimensions, as well. A portion of all the proceeds goes to the temple. "We make several thousand dollars on that one day," Sommer said.
Congregants help the temple while buying Hanukkah supplies and gifts. Plus, they enjoy the opportunity to chat with the person who made the object and perhaps learn something about the craft. "Upon meeting someone new, they often ask what I do. I say I'm a glass artist, and they say, `That's nice,'" Elizabeth Eby said. "At the craft show they see what I do and say, `Wow! So that's what you do!'"
In addition, the fair provides a handy market for the craft artists, some of whom also display their work in the Judaica shop throughout the year. "Making beaded jewelry is my hobby," explained Carole Hirschmann who uses polymer clay to create the beads. "The craft show gives me a sales outlet, which means I can make more jewelry."
Like Hirschmann, most of the Micah artists do not rely on their sales to support themselves. Many plow the money they make back into their art to pay for supplies, equipment or classes. For most, making craft art is a hobby, a side-line, or a so-called second career for their retirement years. That doesn't mean the product is any less professional, Sommer said. "This work is really good."
Nor is the passion behind it any less intense. Peg Blechman, for example, devotes her days to improving access for people with disabilities, but spends much of her free time knitting. "I'm usually knitting a shawl, hat or scarf at services, Torah study, Kol Isha and classes at the temple," she said. "My knitting is very personal and inspirational."
This year's Hanukkah Gift and Craft Fair will be the temple's fourth effort and, the planners hope, the biggest. For the first time this year, the undertaking is a collaboration between the Judaica shop and Machon Micah intended to capitalize on Machon Micah's All Community Hanukkah Celebration with the aim of attracting a large, multi-generational crowd. Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat will be the featured guest at 10 a.m., speaking on his new book, The Future of the Jews: How Global Forces are Impacting the Jewish People, Israel, and Its Relationship with the United States.
There's still room for more craft artists to participate. For more information or to volunteer to help with the fair, email Temple Micah Judaica Shop.
By Shelley Grossman (from September-October 2012 Vine)