BRACELET BINDS BUYERS IN SUPPORT OF ISRAEL by Robert Weiner
NJJN July 2014
Maxine Schwartz has been making jewelry in her home studio in Westfield and selling it for the past three years.
When Operation Protective Edge began on July 12, she decided to use her craft to raise funds for the Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel Emergency Campaign.
Schwartz created a “Red String Bracelet” that she sells on her website, www.masdesigns.co.
“I felt helpless with the war going on and not being able to do anything for it, so I posted on Facebook that I would give 100 percent of my profits after costs to the campaign,” she said.
Since she began her selling spree, “we have raised about $18,000 from 600 orders for thousands of bracelets. (A total of $40,000 was raised in all). Orders came from people around this country, as well as Canada, Denmark, Israel, Australia, and South Africa from people of all denominations. One person wrote, ‘Thank you for supporting the birthplace of my savior.’ It is really cool that we are all in this together.”
Schwartz will donate the money through the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, whose Center for Volunteerism she chairs. Previously, she was president of the Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy and a member of the Young Leadership Cabinet at the former Jewish Federation of Central NJ.
The red silk bracelet has a 14-carat gold-filled chain and three gold vermeil nuggets. “It is my interpretation of the Kabbalah bracelet, and it is intended to ward off evil,” she said. “You tie it onto your wrist, and you don’t take it off.”
She began making them herself, but the demand for the bracelet became so huge that she enlisted some 20 volunteers — friends and students at Golda Och Academy in West Orange (which all three of her sons attended) — to help out. The bracelets sell for $25 apiece.
“People are buying them in multiples, giving them to their friends. It has been pretty amazing,” she said. “People have been taking pictures of themselves wearing their bracelet and posting them online. We have photos of mah-jongg groups and pictures of babies wearing them. We even have one of a female soldier in the IDF wearing one.
“That to me is full circle. We are tying a red string around the world.”