Festival Of Delights

Festival Of Delights

Our annual guide to cool, arty and meaningful gifts for Passover.

Sandee is the arts and culture editor at the Jewish Week.

The best new tool for all the spring cleaning that has to happen before Passover is a Swedish-inspired eco-friendly dishcloth, designed and printed in the U.S. Each cloth replaces 17 rolls of paper towels and will last for more than nine months — and can be cleaned in the washing machine or dishwasher at least 200 times. Made of cellulose and cotton and pleasant to touch, these newfangled cloths feature cheerful designs

$7, Magpie, 488 Amsterdam Ave. (between 83rd and 84th St.), Manhattan, 646 998-3002, Magpienewyork.com.

A centerpiece meant to be rearranged, this seder plate is actually made of seven hexagons — with the names of the symbolic foods in gold-foil ink — that can be passed and arranged again around the table. Designed by Israeli artist Chen Blume and made of letterpress paper, the plate is among the offerings of Hello Mazel, a nonprofit quarterly subscription service that delivers a curated box of Jewish goods quarterly — think of a cool care package geared to Jewish culture and practice. All proceeds are reinvested in Jewish communal projects (see Jewishmazel.com for information about subscriptions).

$24, The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave. (92nd Street), Manhattan, (212) 423-3333, Shop.thejewishmuseum.org.

Pass the matzah in a handsome tray made of rolled and woven newspapers — with pages selected that feature good news only, along with illustrations from old Haggadahs. Created by Israeli artist Desy Mei-Dan, each piece is unique, perfectly sized for a square matzah.

$40, The Aesthetic Sense, 222 E. Main St., Mt. Kisco, (914) 864-1600, theaestheticsense.com.

Welcome back the birds of spring. This poster of the Birds of North America is comprehensive, with more than 740 birds drawn beautifully to scale. The impact of seeing them all together is awe-inspiring. Designed in Brooklyn by Pop Chart Lab, the posters are printed in Long Island City. Viewers, whether bird watchers or people watchers, will spend hours admiring the rows of blue-winged warblers, vermillion fly catchers and others.

$38, Magpie, 488 Amsterdam Ave. (between 83rd and 84th St.), Manhattan, (646) 998-3002, Magpienewyork.com

Another view of spring: this set of two decks of cards and the box that holds them are inspired by the designs of Isaac Mizrahi, now on exhibit at The Jewish Museum. The cards feature a detail of “Blossom Blazer” from the spring 1991 collection, and the storage box shows off the “Grand Pupa” dress from spring 2009. While the cards are sized for bridge — a game Mizrahi enjoys playing — they can be used for any card game.

$20, The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave. (92nd Street), Manhattan, (212) 423-3333, Shop.thejewishmuseum.org.

Bring nature indoors. Made in New York City from Hudson River driftwood, each one-of-a-kind sculptural piece features a small and spectacular air plant, which lives on air and water, without soil.

$22 to $25, Magpie, 488 Amsterdam Ave. (between 83rd and 84th St.), Manhattan, (646) 998-3002, Magpienewyork.com

Vertical matzah holder by Doron Dar-Shalom.

Sheets of matzah stand vertically in this innovative new matzah holder created by Israeli industrial designer Doron Dar-Shalom. The artist, who spent much of his childhood on a kibbutz, is particularly interested in promoting environmental values. Able to hold a dozen sheets of matzah, the slotted stand is available in shades of silver, gold and red metal.

$108.79 (includes 15 percent discount), Beit Hatfutsot Gift Shop (in Tel Aviv), bh.org.il/shop

A hand-painted miniature Haggadah dating back to 1739, a hand-embroidered seder towel from 1821, Alsace and Reuven Rivlin’s 1950 painting “First Seder in Jerusalem” with Jews of many backgrounds, citizens and soldiers, in a pose that evokes DaVinci’s “The Last Supper,” are among the treasury of beautiful objects photographed and described in “The Art of Passover” by Rabbi Stephen O. Parnes (Universe Books/Rizzoli). With essays by scholars Bonnie-Dara Michaels and Gabriel Goldstein, this book resembles a museum catalogue, but this collection is scattered all over the world.

$24.95, at bookstores.

Bring the old city of Tel Aviv, with its Bauhaus charm, to the table. This easy-to-assemble cardboard sculpture (13 inches high) designed and made in Israel by “Piece of History” includes several signature buildings along with palm trees. With this do-it-yourself urban landscape, you can almost feel the Tel Aviv breeze.

$15 (plus $5 flat rate shipping worldwide), Piece-of-history.com.

Looking ahead to Yom HaShoah, there’s a new and unusual tribute to Anne Frank for young readers, “The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank’s Window” by Jeff Gottesfeld, illustrated by Peter McCarty (Knopf). From the attic, Anne Frank wrote about “the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew.” Here, the tree notices Anne and the goings on in the city of Amsterdam, before the young girl and her family come to the annex, and after. From the point of view of the flowering tree, Anne is seen combing her dark hair, playing with her cat, laughing with a boy and most often writing, until she and her family are taken away by uniformed men. A note at the back of the book gives the details of her story, and the illustrations in brown ink enhance this retelling. As for the tree, it died after 172 years, at the time when Anne Frank would have been 81. Its seeds have since been planted around the world, as a symbol of hope and peace; a sapling has been planted at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan.

$17.99, at bookstores.

New vessels for Kiddush at your seder table include Miriam’s and Elijah’s cups to your seder table. Designed in New York by Barbara Matzner, these cups are handmade of wood and woven fiber under fair-trade conditions in Columbia, South America, bringing the opportunities of distinguished work to artisans and their families.

$64 (each cup), The Aesthetic Sense, 222 E. Main St., Mt. Kisco, (914) 864-1600, theaestheticsense.com

“When we look at our own tables that are set beautifully for Passover, it’s incumbent to think about people who have less, and to do something about it,” said Helaine Geismar Katz, president of the board of directors of Ample Table for Everyone (ATE), a new not-for-profit working to help the one in five New York City families living with food insecurity. ATE was founded a few years ago by a group of New York women who have been prominent in cultural, educational and Jewish institutions and philanthropies, and are now dedicated to food justice. Katz, who held leadership positions at the 92nd St Y for 35 years, explains that ATE funds groups that are working on the root causes of hunger. It gives away 100 percent of the money it raises. Visit the ATE website to find out more about what it does and to donate.