At the Sinai Reform Temple in Bay Shore, L.I., where Rabbi Emily Losben-Ostrov serves as rabbi and educational director, everyone, it seemed, was wearing Silly Bandz — rubber bracelets that morph into a variety of shapes. Even Rabbi Emily. (Her first band, shaped like a pig, was a gift from the youth group president. “I’m a rabbi who loves pigs,” she says with a laugh).
The latest fad was all fine and good in her mind … until she caught sight of a student wearing a Silly Bandz that looked like a Christmas tree. “I got really upset,” she says. “It’s a shame there are no Jewish shapes, I thought. Jewish Silly Bandz could instill a sense of pride in our heritage. I envisioned my students walking around thinking, ‘I’ve got a Jewish star on my wrist.’”
After a Google search for “Jewish Silly Bandz” came up short, Rabbi Losben-Ostrov decided to create her own. And so Meshuga Bands (www.meshugabands.com) was born.
Each $5 pack contains 12 bands in six Jewish shapes: a Jewish star, a Torah, dreidel, shofar, chai (her favorite) and a hamsa (“It’s a little more obscure,” she says. “But it’s a beautiful way to tie in Israel. The hamsa is a symbol the Jews and Muslims both use to represent the hand of God”).
Though she’s been selling the Meshuga Bands for only a few weeks, word has spread quickly. “Having Jewish Silly Bandz means being Jewish is cool,” she says. The 30-somethings in her Intro to Judaism class are all wearing them, as are congregants young and old. Internet orders have begun to stream in, she says, and synagogue gift shops, youth groups and camps are inquiring about using the bands as fundraisers. The bands “spans all backgrounds — my ultra-Orthodox cousins and nieces and nephews will be wearing them just as much as the Reform kids at my temple,” she says proudly.
Other companies have begun to fill this niche, as well. Biblical Bandz (www.biblicalbandz.com), which claims it was the first to market “Jewish Silly Bandz,” sells packs of 24 bands for $5.95. The company offers 30 different designs, ranging from the Aleph Bet, Shabbat symbols, Jewish holidays and biblical storylines such as Noah’s Ark.
For those who favor Jewish Silly Bandz in tie-dye or glitter varieties, TraditionsJewishGifts.com sells packs of 10 for $4.99.
Other religious groups have begun to market their own faith-based Silly Bandz — Holy Rubba-Bandz, for example, features Christian symbols and can be purchased on eBay.
While this fad — similar to pogs and slap bands of days past — is unlikely to last forever, Rabbi Losben-Ostrov is hopeful that the Meshuga Bands will instill a sense of Jewish pride in their wearers and serve as a positive educational tool.
“Let these Jewish bands spark a desire for more Jewish learning and living a Jewish lifestyle,” she says.