and inlay work at the new Keter Torah Synagogue, two miles
eev Tammuz still operates a Jerusalem gallery,
east of Temple Israel.
but in the wake of 31 months of Palestinian ter
Gruss aims to grow Jewels of Israel's U.S. presence.
ror, he relies on frequent visits to America to sell
"It's too much for family men to come and go, to be away
his custom jewelry and that of other Israeli jew-
home so much," he said. 'Also, the jewelers in the col-
have no time to fix jewelry or exchange things. Some
Fear of suicide bombers exploding in public places has with-
even require an American face. I serve as their con-
ered tourism, crippling the once-thriving economy of Israel,
in the States."
the jewel of the Jewish people. Israeli jewelers, especially, are
is. hoping that some U.S. fine jewelers will
angling for ways to spur sales, down 70 percent or more.
pieces. Its global gateway is the Web site
Tammuz teamed up last year with Haim Alfasi of the
Upper Galilee to represent 15 makers of fine jewelry in the
Though in lockstep about business, Tammuz is more out-
collective Jewels of Israel. Since then, they've
spoken than Alfasi about politics. My guess is that the drum-
appeared at art galleries, fairs and shows from
beat of suicide bombings in Jerusalem has jaded Tammuz.
coast to coast.
He's convinced the hatred between Palestinian Authority
Their coming together is unusual ---
Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Tammuz is a secular Jew and Alfasi is
Mahmoud Abbas, the P.A.'s new prime minister,
Orthodox. But their teamwork illustrates that
is under scrutiny for possible terrorist ties.
no matter how Torah observant we are, we're
to let him do anything but fail," Tammuz
ultimately all Jews. It's a worthy model.
Mahatma Ghandi [former leader
Members of the collective share the profits
ROBERT A. equally. Their sights are now trained on the
two children, Hedya, 17,
potentially lucrative U.S. market. Frankly,
they have little choice. Their Israeli galleries
10 years ago, I won-
are only shadows of their once-busy past.
of that city
For the second year in a row, I caught
up with Tammuz and Alfasi in West
Tammuz said. "Now I understand,
Bloomfield at the patron preview for the
though it's not as bad here. You just
Temple Israel Sisterhood Art Fair. And I
continue to be impressed as much by
Rifka and Haim Alfasi and their
their resolve as by the sparkle of their cre-
children, Ein-Bar, 13, and Hillel,
ations. A reflection of the weak U.S.
7, live 20 miles from the Lebanon
economy, this year's fair netted Jewels of
border. Operation Iraqi Freedom is a
Israel only $4,000, less than half of their
blessing for Israel, Haim says.
"Israelis are going out more — feel-
But they'll press on in the States.
freer and surer," he said. "Up
"In Israel, business clients are a faint
we're still afraid of Hezbollah,
memory," Tammuz said Saturday night as
hopeful Syria and Lebanon
he filled display cases and adjusted light-
enough of America to not
ing at their popular booth. "I still have
move that's going to be like
the gallery because I don't pay any rent —
my landlord doesn't want to pay the
His wife, Sharon, is his partner. Their
The Temple Israel Sisterhood Art Fair
gallery is at 7 Maallot Nachlat Shiva St.
included 21 Israeli booths. Detroit
"We've got to look for new markets and
Jewry stepped up and provided
open new doors," said Alfasi, whose
kosher and non-kosher homes, even
gallery is in Mitzpe Hayamim, a Rosh
cars in some cases, for many of
Jewelers Zeev, Haim, Alex with Datia.
Pinna spa. His wife, Rifka, keeps the
the visitors. The kindness in this commu-
doors open when he's away. As spa reser-
nity has just poured out," said Carol Lynn
vations have fallen, so have Alfas i's profits, but a caring land-
Cooper, fine arts co-chair of the art fair with Lynn Apel.
lord has adjusted the rent according,ly.
Tammuz's sister, Datia, a Tel Aviv native, lives in
Ties To America
Jewels of Israel brought fine jewelry ranging in price from $50
to $10,000 to both the Temple Israel Sisterhood Art Fair on
May 4-5 and the Congregation Shaarey Zedek Sisterhood's
Woman's World 2003 in Southfield on May 7.
"Each piece we have has its own personality, its own price,
its own material," said Alex Gruss, the collective's U.S. liaison,
as he tenderly unwrapped stored jewelry. "Everything is hand-
made. We don't carry junk. We're artists that like to sell each
other's work. Were not machers."
Gruss made aliyah from Argentina in 1974 and moved to
New York City in 1986. He did the impressive interior art
Farmington Hills. She introduced Cooper to Jewels of Israel
and says our community has embraced her brother and his
partners. "They told me that what we have going is such an
incredible thing: a brotherhood of Jews, an inviting communi-
ty that makes them feel so warm."
Karen Lovinger of Farmington Hills is a good example of
standing with Israel. She's not an artist, but called Cooper to
volunteer at the fair and help champion the Israeli artistry.
Just back from Pesach in Jerusalem with her husband, Allen,
she told me: "The empty shops on Ben Yehudah Street were
so depressing. And at the Cardo, shopkeepers were still hoping
things would pick up.
"I'll do anything I can to support Israel." Ul
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