When Stacy Baum returned from a family trip to Israel in the summer of 2014, she felt compelled to do something to show her support for the country.
“When you go,” said Baum, “There is a connection that is hard to explain. It goes to your heart.”
Baum pointed out that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.
“Israel has always had to fight for her existence and freedom,” she said. “Israel’s existence is especially important now, as she is are surrounded by extremists, terrorists and many unfriendly neighbors.”
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Baum, 46, approached the Charlotte Chapter of Hadassah with her idea of an Israeli Products Fair.
“I feel that it is important that people understand the need to support Israel,” Baum said. “And one of the best ways you can do that is by buying Israeli products.”
Last year’s inaugural fair had 18 vendors and drew a crowd of 250 people. Proceeds from the fair (from a raffle, table fees and a percentage of sales) raised $3,000 for an emergency relief fund for Israel.
This year’s Israeli Products Fair, scheduled for Nov. 22, promises to be “bigger and better,” Baum said.
“We have a lot more Israeli vendors this year,” said Baum, who is again spearheading the effort.
We want there to be a real community focus.
Stacy Baum, co-chairwoman of Israeli Products Fair
Several of the vendors are coming in from out of town, including a woman from Baltimore who represents Israeli jewelers, a woman from Alabama who imports a wide variety of Israeli products, and a vendor from Israel who is making a trip to Charlotte on his way home to Israel after bringing his products to Chicago.
Baum took note of feedback from last year’s fair asking for more products from Israel. In addition to this year’s vendors, the Charlotte Chapter of Hadassah will also be selling a wide variety of products they purchased from Israel, such as purses, candy, jewelry and vases.
Proceeds from this year’s fair will help fund the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower in Jerusalem, Hadassah’s 19-story world-class inpatient facility.
“It houses five below-ground floors, where the ultra-modern specialized Surgical Center is located,” said Baum. “It is protected from outside attacks of any kind – conventional, biological or chemical.”
The winner of this year’s raffle might be able to see the surgical center in person, because “this year’s big and exciting addition,” said Baum, “is a raffle to win a 2016 Hadassah mission for two to Israel.”
Tickets can be purchased for $72 each or eight for $500. Only 250 tickets will be sold, so, Baum said, there are “excellent odds to win.”
The fair will take place at the Jewish Community Center at 5007 Providence Road. It will feature Israeli food and children’s activities in addition to the vendors selling Israeli products.
In addition, there will be a “Did You Know?” display highlighting “all the good that is coming out of Israel,” Baum said.
There will also be a travel room, with many of the groups who organize trips to Israel (such as the local temples, Hadassah and Birthright) available to answer questions and provide information.
“We want to show the community the variety of opportunities and possibilities of traveling to Israel,” Baum said.
The fair, co-sponsored by the Charlotte Jewish Community Federation, the Levine Jewish Community Center and Ayelet Tours, is designed as a community-wide event.
“We want there to be a real community focus,” Baum said, because “we all feel a responsibility to support Israel and let people know why Israel is important.”
Katya Lezin is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to go?
Tickets for the fair can be purchased at the Jewish Community Center, 5007 Providence Road, or by calling 704-366-5007. For a complete list of raffle rules and trip dates and additional information about the fair, visit http://www.hadassah.org/regions/southern-seaboard/chapters/charlotte/charlotte.html.