Your guide to gift giving this season, as curated by our arts and culture editors.
Take a friend or family members on a guided walking tour of Lower East Side history with the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy. Explore the lives of major figures that lived, worked and prayed there more than a century ago along the sidewalks they traversed. A Passover tour begins at the Museum at Eldridge Street (with a kosher-for-Passover snack) and explores the neighborhood, ending at the Bialystoker Synagogue. A few weeks later, tour Jewish Harlem, which, in 1917, was home to more than 175,000 Jews. The tour views the exteriors of buildings that were once grand synagogues.
Giants of the Lower East Side: A Passover Walking Tour; Wed., April 4; 10:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m., $30 in advance, $32 on the day.
Tour Jewish Harlem, Sunday, April 29, 10:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m., meet at the northeast corner of Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and 125th Street, $23 in advance, $25 on the day.
Tours rain or shine. For information and reservations: (212) 374-4100,
A Bookish Wonder Woman
From a design studio in Tel Aviv, a Wonder Woman seems to hold the weight of a shelf full of books, while appearing to be floating on air. The (unseen) shelf is made of metal painted black. Artori Design, run by Ori and Hadas Niv, is now celebrating its 10th year of business, with a range of creative products.
Rabbi Yael Buechler has been making nail decals recalling the Ten Plagues since 2013. This year, she adds a contemporary twist, with decals representing modern plagues, including global warming, mosquitos and selfies. She hopes these decals will spark conversations at seder tables (and on check-out lines) about modern plagues that affect us and the steps we can take to alleviate them.
$11.99. Available at West Side Judaica, 2412 Broadway (89th Street), Manhattan and MidrashManicures.com.
Because I’m Happy
Ceramic artist Maria DiSimone makes vibrantly colored small bowls in various sizes and designs in her Hell’s Kitchen studio. Her cheery faces hint of spring and would be bright additions to a seder table — perhaps to hold salt, nuts or sweet charoset — or for use throughout the year. DeSimone believes the ordinary things we use should make us happy.
$22, $29, $36. Domus, 413 W. 44th St. (between Ninth and 10th), Manhattan.
Lean In Style
Reclining was a sign of freedom during Roman times, and it’s customary to recline during the seder. Jessica Hollander’s cotton sateen throw pillows, featuring trees and flowers drawn from her larger oil paintings, are portraits celebrating the natural world. The Brooklyn artist (her collection is called India & Purry) prints mirror images on both sides of the square pillow.
$88. Magpie, 488 Amsterdam Ave. (83rd Street), Manhattan, (212) 579-3003, magpienewyork.com.
Seder Plate Tectonics
Shift from your old seder plate this year. Among the many available at The Jewish Museum shop, two standouts are the Marbled Seder Plate set by Eliana Bernard, handcrafted in Austin, Texas. The plate and six small dishes, for each of the symbolic foods, feature a marbled pattern, with hand-painted gold trim. Another ceramic dish is in regal colors of turquoise, purple and gold, with a retro design and lettering.
Marbled seder plate, $380/$342 (members); Retro design, $38/$34.20 (members). The Cooper Shop at The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave. (92nd Street), Manhattan, (212) 423-3211, shop.thejewishmuseum.org.
A Frog Prince(ss)
For young guests, a hand-sewn fleece frog hat is an adorable way to enhance seder participation. The hats are made at Shekel: Community Services for People with Special Needs in Jerusalem, a leadin g Israeli organization working toward the inclusion of people with special needs in the community. The shop has a collection of “Buy for Good” items handmade in Israel by adults and children with special needs or from underprivileged backgrounds.
Fleece frog hat, $20. The Aesthetic Sense, 222 Main Street, Mt. Kisco, (914) 864-1600, theaestheticsense.com.
Sustainable Food Storage
Wrap up your leftovers in Bee’s Wrap, an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic wrap. You can also cover bowls, wrap fruits and vegetables in sheets that are made of organic cotton, beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin. Beautiful printed patterns are geometric, floral, or filled with bees and bears. Made in Vermont, the sheets of Bee’s Wrap are washable, reusable and compostable.
Three-packs (an assorted set of three sizes), $19. Magpie, 488 Amsterdam Ave. (83rd Street), Manhattan, (212) 579-3003, magpienewyork.com.
Since 1986, Darryl’s Boutique on the Upper West Side is known for service, style and the great fashion eye of its eponymous owner. This season, it features 100 percent organic cotton jackets in modern designs made by artisans in Peru, in fair trade workplaces. They work for Indigenous, founded in 1994, which provides artisans with training opportunities, child care, safe work conditions and fair living wages. The jackets in black and burgundy feature stylish detail and fine craftsmanship.
Now discounted to $119 (regularly $165). Darryl’s Boutique, 492 Amsterdam Ave. (84th Street), Manhattan, darrylsny.com.
Fair Trade Music
Inspired by the Fair Trade movement, the members of the Fair Trade Trio, a classical string trio, believe that artists should be fairly compensated for their artistic endeavors. Violinist Ashley Windle explains that a lot of musicians are expected to play for free, and that devalues their art. The trio aims to “increase the value of the music being performed and therefore help secure a place for classical music in today’s society.” At their performances, the musicians — Ashley Windle, Hannah Levinson and Jeanette Stenson — try to include works by Jewish composers, like Israeli composer Gilad Hochman and the late Mieczyslaw Weinberg, who escaped from Poland to Russia during the Shoah. You can hear them in concert, or hire them to play at a house concert or private event.
Concert, May 6, 3 p.m., Bloomingdale School of Music, 323 W. 108th St., Manhattan. Tickets $15 to $25. For information, (401) 804-4735 or fairtradechambermusic.org.
Think Spring Training
In the major leagues in the 1930s, Moe Berg was an unusual baseball player — he was Jewish, spoke several languages and attended law school while playing. “The Spy Who Played Baseball” by Carrie Jones, illustrated by Gary Cherringon (Kar-Ben), is the story of Berg, who grew up in Newark, N.J., and graduated from Princeton. During World War II, he traded a life in baseball for the opportunity to spy and gather information behind enemy lines to help defeat the Nazis.
$7.99. At bookstores.
Food and Love
Food, stories, hope and love is a great combination in any season. Help support vulnerable children in the slums of Mumbai and empower the women. “Masala Mamas: Recipes and Stories of the Indian Women Changing their Communities through Food and Love” may be the first kosher, vegetarian Indian cookbook. The recipes were compiled by the Masala Mamas, a group of women who live in the Kalwa slum and get together every day to cook nutritious meals for the local children – so that they will have food in their school, Love2Learn – and incentive to attend. The school is run by the NGO, Gabriel Project Mumbai, which also supports the Masala Mamas.
Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM) is a Jewish volunteer-based initiative providing hunger relief, literacy support, health care and empowerment to children in urban slums and rural villages in India. The organization was founded by Jacob Sztokman, who was born in Australia and lives in Israel; his wife, Elana Sztokman edited the book. GPM works in close partnership with the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
$25.95 (advance orders), Masalamamas.org.