WHC holiday boutique to feature Israeli jewelry

This is some of the jewelry made by Israeli women and sold by Tribelle.
This is some of the jewelry made by Israeli women and sold by Tribelle.

Jewelry, handmade by struggling Israeli women, will be featured at Washington Hebrew Congregation’s 27th annual holiday boutique and silent auction to be held Sunday, Nov. 10 through Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Elizabeth Weingarten, associate editor at New America Foundation’s The Weekly Wonk by day, started a business that helps talented women in Israel grow their own businesses. While there are numerous organizations in Third World countries that strive to help poor women become financially independent, few if any of those groups are active aiding the poor in Israel, Weingarten said.

Weingarten said she was surprised to learn that roughly 20 percent of Israelis are living in poverty and decided to see what she could do.

“As a Jewish woman, I felt a pretty strong connection to these women. I wanted to help. They easily could have been my family members had things turned out differently in World War II,” she said. Add that to the fact that the D.C. woman’s grandmother owned her own jewelry business, and the seeds for Weingarten’s business, Tribelle, were planted.


Tribelle buys and sells jewelry from women who started their businesses with the help of Israeli organizations, which assist the women in gaining business skills.

As a fellow with the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s ConnectGens program, Weingarten was able to kick-start her new business, which she said features “works of art. All the jewelry I sell typically is from low-income, very talented, struggling women,” she said.

One of the women Weingarten works with is Rivka Strahilevitz, whose jewelry will be on sale at the boutique. She was living on a pension but needed more money to help her ill sister and her struggling adult children. Strahilevitz was cleaning out the home of her mother, who had recently died, when she found a basket full of zippers for mending. These zippers are featured in her jewelry.

Prices for the jewelry range from $50 to $350. Weingarten reinvests a portion of the money she makes in two organizations; Economic Empowerment for Women’s Business of One’s Own Program, which runs courses for more than 2,600 women in Israel, and YEDID’s Megemeria program, a school for Ethiopian immigrants. YEDID partners with Yvel, a jewelry company, to teach low-income Ethiopian women how to make necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Sandy Nesbit, chair of the boutique, said there will be at least 50 venders plus a cafe and silent auction at this year’s boutique. About one-third of those venders will be first-timers. There will be lots of Chanukah gifts on sale, including jewelry and handbags made from genuine skin, she said.

“It’s the sisterhood’s largest fundraiser,” she said, noting that the money made at the annual boutique goes to charities and synagogue projects.

“Come shop, because Chanukah’s early!” Nesbit declared.

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