Stacy Baum made her third trip to Israel last summer – this time with her family.
“It was an amazing trip, and as Jews, our family realized how important Israel is for all Jewish people,” said Baum, 45. “The identity of the Jewish people from a historical, religious, and cultural perspective can all be traced back to Israel.
“For me, there is just an indescribable connection, both spiritual and emotional, that comes with this shared sense of history and faith.”
The day after the Baum family returned to its home in Stonecroft, war started in Israel.
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“Tourism slowed tremendously, merchants suffered,” Baum said. “The economy spiraled downward as much of the country spent much of their summer running in an out of bomb shelters.”
Baum said she felt the need to help. To raise awareness and support Israel, she came up with the idea of holding an Israeli product fair.
“I felt that this could increase awareness of Israel and Israeli products, and help people feel connected and inspired to visit Israel, as well as support Israel by raising awareness of the importance of supporting Israeli merchants, products and the economy in Israel,” said Baum.
Baum, a member of Hadassah, approached Patricia Johnson, president of the Charlotte Chapter of Hadassah, with her idea.
Hadassah, a women’s volunteer organization, inspires a connection with Israel while fundraising to help enhance “the health of people worldwide through its support of medical care and research at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem,” according to www.hadassah.org.
Johnson agreed to provide support and volunteers to hold the inaugural Hadassah Israeli Product Fair at the Sam Lerner Center in Shalom Park.
The event will be 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 14. Vendors on-site will donate 10 percent of sales to the Hadassah Emergency Fund. U-Boutique, an online Israeli Marketplace, is donating 6 percent of its sales from this link: http://tinyurl.com/u-boutique4CharlotteHadassah.
“The event will support Hadassah’s Emergency Fund that exists to assist Israel in times of crisis, such as during Operation Protective Edge this summer,” Baum said.
The Hadassah Israeli Product Fair is open to the public. Food and refreshments will be sold.
“If we can show all the wonderful things Israel creates beyond what is portrayed in the media, that would be a great thing,” Johnson said.
There will be a great selection at the fair of Israeli and Judaica products and services, including mezuzahs, books, tallit and skin products from the Dead Sea. Temple Beth El and Temple Israel will have wares from their gift shops.
Vintner Wine Market will sell Israeli wine, and Mann Travels and Levine Travel will be represented.
There also will be raffle prizes that include jewelry from Betsy Klein, Diamonds Direct and Akko in Israel. Raffle tickets can be purchased in advance and are $5 each, or three tickets for $10.
Avri Beeri, president of Ronit Furst, will also be on hand to sell hand-painted eyewear created in Israel. Ronit Furst’s factory is in Kfar Giladi in the northern part of Israel.
Beeri, an Israeli who has lived in Charlotte for 29 years, said, “If we can help Israel by doing business here, we should do it.”
Baum said she hopes to make the fair an annual event.