The Open Book
Eat It Up
The Big Question . . . . 92
How you can have your
very own rabbi
and help Israel, too.
Special to Apple Tree
New York City/JTA
he idea of a rabbi doll
came to Gary Barris while
he was shopping two years
ago during the holiday
Overwhelmed by stores filled with
Christmas decorations and gifts,
Barris of Union Lake says he "felt
there was a void for sending greet-
ings in the Jewish community."
Gary Barris and
his rabbi dolls
— a 10-
inch-tall, plush rabbi
doll. Wearing a black hat
and suit, as well as tzitzit,
the doll comes with a blank
card so buyers can add their own
wishes. Priced at
$11.95, the doll
is sold mainly on
the Internet at
Barris said he
bis before sending
final sketches of
the doll to China,
where more than
Rabbi Says ..."
dolls were sewn,
shipped back to
So far, Barris
says he has sold
He plans to
rabbi line to
create a talk-
that may say
rchayim" (to life).
This year's "The Rabbi Says ..."
doll features an added bonus: a por-
tion of the proceeds will go to the
United Jewish Communities' Israel
Emergency Campaign (sponsored
locally by the Jewish Federation of
Another way to support Israel: buy
directly from merchants there.
Shopinisrael.com is a nonprofit
site set up last February by
Californian Jane Scher and run by a
team of more than 50 volunteers from
around the world. The site allows
shoppers to purchase items —
Judaica, art, jewelry, food, wine and
other products — directly from
"The idea started at a bat mitz-
vah," Scher says. "I had bought a gift
from Israel and everyone at my table
was very excited about it."
A full-time volunteer for the San
Diego Jewish community, Scher con-
tacted vendors in Israel and launched
the site with just 15 links. The Web
site now lists more than 350 ISraeli
companies and has had more than
222,000 hits since February.
The goal of the site is "to help
struggling merchants in Israel who
have been hit by this rapid decline in
visitors," Scher says.
Other sites to check out include:
• wvvw.Israelexport.org Promoting
Israeli products, the sponsor is the
Israeli Embassy in Washington.
• wvvvv.israeliwebshops.com Based in
New York and New Jersey, the site
creates free Web pages for Israeli busi-
nesses trying to sell their products
• www.IsraelShopl.com Offers com-
petition to the rabbi doll. Here, you'll
meet up with "Shimale," a doll of a
little Jewish boy wearing a red-and-
purple yarmulke and accompanied by
a series of narrated CDs and videos.
For $14.95, a Chanukah evening
can be spent watching Shimale star in
The Tabernacle Treasures.
A baby doll called "Rivkale" also is
offered. Among others, she sings the
prayer "Lecha Dodi."