The upcoming holidays of Hanukkah and Christmas feel a little different for Israelis this year. After the tragic events of October 7, the spark of the holiday spirit has been dimmed.
There are still, however, many reasons to celebrate the holidays. Not only is it important to honor tradition in these trying times, but it also provides an opportunity to show our support in a meaningful way to the people who matter to us.
Many small Israeli businesses during this time are offering unique gift options. Some of these shops are also relying on support from the community in order to survive the turmoil.
Here are some great options for your holiday shopping this year:
DJ and graphic designer Omer Beit Halachmi opened his small, online t-shirt business a few years ago, specializing in unique designs, portraying international stars like Drake and Rihanna through the lens of 2000s Israel.
When the war in Gaza began, Halachmi was quick to recognize the heroes of the current campaign. From TV reporters who worked day and night to calm the nation while delivering the most devastating news, to ordinary Israelis such as Rachel Edri – the grandma who averted calamity by calming and feeding terrorists who broke into her home in Ofakim on October 7.
Shortly, Halachmi began selling t-shirts with special designs that incorporated those whom he saw as national heroes, donating parts of the proceeds to victims of the Hamas attacks.
As the war continues, Bootleg Studio has been expanding its heroes range, offering t-shirts with prints of various army units, the head of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit Daniel Hagari, and even the Iron Dome anti missile system.
If a t-shirt is not sophisticated enough, you can go full “fashion house” and order a gift from the Israeli brand De Rococo.
The mid-range brand specializes in clean aesthetics, offering high-quality basics on a par with top designer brands being sold on international retail sites.
De Rococo designs and manufactures its pieces in Israel and offers free international shipping.
Yuval Friedman became a jewelry designer almost by accident. When her husband brought a pile of cheap bracelets from Italy as souvenirs, she was surprised that all her friends fought over them.
Friedman decided to replicate the bracelets by making them at home and selling them at a beach “like an ice cream man.”
When she sold out everything she’d made, Friedman decided to open her online shop. She began taking goldsmithing classes and started her business, eventually employing staff members.
All the Yuvall jewelry is handmade using raw materials such as 925 sterling silver and 14k gold.
Since the start of the war in Gaza and the rise of antisemitism around the world, Yuvall’s pendants of Israel’s map outline have become a bestseller. So have the charms with the Hebrew word chai, translated as “alive” or “life.”
This Israeli couture jewelry maker designed pieces that have been worn by the biggest stars in Israel and abroad, including Noa Kirel, Alicia Keys, Lana Del Rey and even Slash, the lead guitarist of the hard rock band Guns N’ Roses.
Her Instagram bio proudly says “IStandWithIsrael,” while her website offers an exceptionally diverse palette of jewelry. From bombastic chains and bracelets to dainty earrings and rings. No matter what your taste is, you’ll be sure to find a piece of your liking.
The two organic skincare businesses are located on two opposite, and currently most volatile, ends of the country. Arugot is based in Netivot, in the Gaza border region, while Aya’s products are made in the Galilee Mountains up north.
Galilee artisan Jamal Hamoud creates Aya cosmetics using locally sourced organic olive oil, without artificial chemicals. The small company’s online shop offers face creams, moisturizers and serums.
Founded by Itai and Esther Lachman, Arugot is a family-owned skincare boutique offering oils, creams, serums and even organic perfumes. It also offers “try on” packages and gift cards.
All the products are handmade and contain pure aromatherapy extracts from Israel, cold-pressed organic oils and extracts from wildflowers and locally grown organic herbs. The brand doesn’t use synthetic preservatives, industrial or other toxic chemicals that are prevalent in commercial cosmetics.
It wouldn’t be a list of potential gifts from Israel if Dead Sea cosmetics were not on it. AHAVA is already sold all over the world, including the US. The brand is vegan and sustainably made, and offers a wide variety of skincare products.
Their website offers gift sets, travel kits and gift cards that could serve as a perfect gift for any holiday.
This high-quality Israeli brand was founded 10 years ago by Roy Gershon, who left a successful career in high-tech and traveled to the Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Belgium to learn the secrets of chocolate making. Today, he is one of the leading chocolatiers in Israel.
Roy Chocolate is available in a host of flavors: peanut butter, caramel, pistachio, nut cream, espresso, popcorn crunch and more.
The company employs people with special needs, including those who are intellectually disabled and blind, to help them integrate into society. Gershon also stages chocolate workshops for at-risk youth.
Since the start of the war, the company has been selling “gifts to encourage” packages and even sending some of them to the IDF troops on the frontlines.
The company regularly donates chocolate to nonprofit organizations such as Simcha LeYeled, Akim, Lev Ohev, Kav LaChaim, WIZO and the Center for Victims of Sexual Assault.
The Israeli sweets retailer offers chocolate novelties, including seasonal and special-occasion gifts.
The brand has an online shop as well as chocolate “bar restaurants” in Israel and the US, where you can find a variety of specialized, chocolate-based desserts such as fondue, crepes, milkshakes, waffles, hot chocolate and others.
The brand offers “first aid” chocolate gift sets and even a few skincare products made from cocoa butter.