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Close-Knit Philanthropy

Close-Knit Philanthropy

When Fern Penn visits Israel on product-finding missions for Rosebud, her Israel concept and fashion boutique in Soho, she always brings presents for the Israeli designers with whom she does business. Last month, while in Tel Aviv for a designer showcase, Penn presented jewelry designer Vered Laor with a multicolored fuzzy scarf that she had knitted herself. From that scarf a fundraiser was born. Laor received so many compliments and inquiries about her new accessory while working in her shop on Ben Yehuda Street that she asked Penn to make more and bring them along on her next trip to sell them to clients. Penn agreed, on one condition. The scarves would sell for 120 shekels, about $30, and all proceeds would be donated to Tel Hashomer Hospital’s cancer care unit, which has treated some of Laor’s family members. The hope is that the money will help so that “we may all live to 120,” Penn said.

“I brought 20 scarves on this trip,” Penn told The Jewish Week in a phone conversation from Israel. “Vered sold six in the first day.” Laor’s shop is the exclusive seller, and has sold half the scarves in less than a week. For those in the U.S. who would like a scarf, contact Penn at Rosebud.

Originally, Penn knit all the scarves herself and paid for supplies out of her own pocket. Then the orders began rolling in. One Israeli woman likes the scarves so much that she wants to give them out as gifts, and ordered 100. Penn has now recruited her Rosebud employees to help.

Penn created the first scarves using Lion Brand “Fancy Fur” yarn and mentioned the project to friend and loyal customer Adina Klein, editor-in-chief of “Vogue Knitting” magazine. This is when Penn realized how small the world of fashion really is. Klein spoke to David Blumenthal, owner of Lion Brand Yarns, who was so touched by the story that he agreed to donate all the yarn for the project. The Blumenthal family and Lion Brand Yarns are also major contributors to the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design.

“It’s just one big circle that connects us all,” Penn said. “Now the sky is the limit with the fundraising.”

Randi ShermanStudy Links Anti-Semitism-Anti-Zionism The idea that people who don’t like Israel probably don’t like Jews has long been an article of faith in the Jewish community. Now, Edward Kaplan and Charles Small say they can prove it.

The faculty members at Yale University are the authors of “Anti-Israel Sentiment Predicts Anti-Semitism in Europe,” an article in a recent issue of the Journal of Conflict Resolution that shows those who are highly critical of Israel probably don’t like Jews.

“Those with extreme anti-Israel sentiment are roughly six times more likely to harbor anti-Semitic views than those who do not fault Israel” on the questions under study, the authors write.

They base their findings on the data in a 2004 Anti-Defamation League study conducted in 10 Western European countries, including several with substantial immigrant Muslim populations.

“Muslim respondents are much more likely [than Christians] to harbor anti-Semitic views,” the authors write.

The study casts into doubt the frequent assertion by critics of Israel that they oppose only policies of the Israeli government, and not the Jewish people themselves, says Small, director of Yale’s Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism.

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