On Sunday, Nov. 19, community members and local artisans and vendors came together to raise funds for Israel with a holiday gift boutique.
The Shop ‘Til You Drop Gift Boutique, organized by Beth Tfiloh Congregation’s sisterhood, was held at the synagogue. The proceeds from the boutique are going toward supporting the Israel Defense Forces and Matan Shefler, a shaliach at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School and father of four who has been serving in the IDF during the ongoing war.
This was the fifth year for the sisterhood’s boutique, but the first year since the COVID-19 pandemic. The event included more than 40 vendors selling artwork, gifts, jewelry and wellness products, as well as a raffle and a silent auction. There was also a mitzvah table for kids to make and color cards to be sent to Israel.
“The best part is having the community come together, and this year especially, giving back for Israel and the soldiers,” said Stephanie Kronthal, one of the boutique’s organizers.
The planning for such a large event is no small task, but it’s a challenge the sisterhood has risen to with grace year after year.
“I like meeting new people and the vendors. It’s very interesting to find all these different people,” said Rosalie Klotzman, Kronthal’s mother and fellow organizer. “They’re very creative people.”
According to Klotzman, the boutique is the sisterhood’s main project.
“It’s nice because you get a lot of people involved, the sisterhood members get everybody involved and it’s very nice,” Klotzman said.
One of the artisans and vendors, Melissa Gordon, lives in Owings Mills. Gordon is a member at Beth Tfiloh and the parent of a Beth Tfiloh alumnus and a Beth Tfiloh senior. She makes custom-crocheted dolls and animals.
Among her creations are a moose with menorah antlers, a llamaka — a llama wearing a kippah — and a cozy bowl of matzah ball soup. The small, crocheted soups feature a large, central matzah ball with bead eyes and a smile.
Gordon originally learned to crochet from her grandmother, but her hobby took on new life and fervor when she was pregnant with her children.
“It’s a hobby that turned into a business,” Gordon said.
She started by crocheting hats for newborns in the hospital. After about a year, she began to branch out, making blankets, tops and stuffed animals. Now she makes them by request.
“I can make anything,” Gordon said. “People contact me and ask me to make something, and I work with whoever I’m working with to come up with an idea, and we take their ideas and I kind of craft as to what I think it should look like.”
Another vendor, Jamie Blicher, who traveled up from Bethesda for the boutique, paints with in vitro fertilization needles. Her unique method came about through personal experience and creativity.
“I was going through a three-year IVF journey, and I was feeling stuck,” she said. “What I do to soothe myself is paint. I was feeling particularly sick, and I randomly saw an IVF needle out of the corner of my eye and I wondered what it would be like to put ink inside and what that would look like on paper.”
Today, Blicher does about 60 commissions a year.
A portion of her sales goes to support the Fertility Dreams Foundation, an organization that raises money to support families going through fertility treatments.
On Sunday, she sold art prints, headbands and stickers, as well as colorful Magen Davids to show pride for Israel.
“We need to stand with our Jewish community and remind ourselves why we’re proud of being Jewish and the beautiful community we’ve all created that we want to keep intact,” Blicher said.