Hadaya Jewelry: The centerpiece of Israeli tourist shopping

November 14, 2008

HADAYA: Adina Weissman ‘12 displays the three pieces of Hadaya jewelry that she purchased during her 9 months in Israel last year. Hadaya jewelry is traditionally made from either gold or silver, and usually has a personal message engraved on it. Adina has messages engraved on each of her pieces. Her ring reads “you’ll always be in my heart,” in reference to her four grandparents. Her bracelet reads “there’s no friend like a sister and no sister like my sister,” dedicated to her sister Temma. Her necklace reads “God will protect you from all evil, He will guard your soul.”<br /><br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

Adina Weissman ‘12 displays the three pieces of Hadaya jewelry that she purchased during her 9 months in Israel last year. Hadaya jewelry is traditionally made from either gold or silver, and usually has a personal message engraved on it. Adina has messages engraved on each of her pieces. Weissman's ring reads “you’ll always be in my heart,” in reference to her four grandparents. Weissman's bracelet reads “there’s no friend like a sister and no sister like my sister,” dedicated to her sister Temma. Weissman's necklace reads “God will protect you from all evil, He will guard your soul.”

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

It’s not every 5:30 in the morning that you are able to witness the sun rise, brightening the pale white hues of the Jerusalem stone walls, or hear the gentle bustle of the Old City of Jerusalem as it just starts to arise from the night. The ritual in which I was involved on an early April morning is one that many visitors to Israel experience; the tourist’s version of lining up on Boxing Day to catch the post-Christmas sales. I was sitting in front of a small, picturesque jewelry store in one of the narrow alleyways of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, ensuring my spot as the shop’s first customer of the day. As six o’clock rolled around, more sleepy-eyed tourists joined me, waiting to purchase their own Hadaya souvenirs to take back from their Israel experience.

You have probably seen them around campus: necklaces shaped like hearts, diamonds or donuts, thin silver bracelets engraved with Jerusalem’s skyline, and the popular pounded silver rings. “I’ve noticed a lot of students on campus sporting Hadaya jewelry, especially the necklaces,” said Shani Rosenbaum ’12.

It might take a second look, however, to notice Hadaya’s most unique feature—the engraved, Lord-of-the-Rings-like (at least according to Jacob Chatinover ’12) writing on each piece of jewelry. Visitors to the store can choose to engrave their piece with a name, passage from the Bible or Psalms or any other type of personal message either in Hebrew or English, and then customize the piece even further by adding miniature drawings or designs. With all of the options for personalization that Hadaya presents, the Hadaya website claims that “No two pieces made by Hadaya are similar.” With its tagline of “one-of-a-kind jewelry,” the Hadaya store has been selling custom-designed gold and silver jewelry pieces, each handmade by designer Baruch Hadaya, since 1983.

Why has Hadaya jewelry become such a prevalent trend on the Brandeis campus? According to Chatinover, “Hadaya jewelry has become a staple—you go to Israel with your camp or whatever else and you get a Hadaya ring.”

Other Brandeisians echo this view, claiming that the jewelry has taken the place of other contenders to become the most established souvenir bought by American tourists in Israel. “It’s not just bringing back the wooden camels with the little saddles on them or Ahava foot cream. It’s something that you can personalize for someone else, that is a little more meaningful,” Rachie Lewis ’12 said.

When Rachie Lewis chose her engraving, a verse from a Judaic text she and her friends at Hebrew University had been studying, she “loved that it was something that related to Judaism and the text but it also showed us how those kinds of things can materialize into the way you live your life.”

As Lewis commented, it is fairly common for groups of friends to employ Hadaya jewelry, using matching or interconnected verses, as “a more sophisticated version of the puzzle piece [friendship] necklaces.”

Hadaya has capitalized on its status by sending representatives to hotels in Israel where members of organized programs stay, allowing customers to order en masse. Their efforts so far have been highly successful. According to Rachel Weinstein’s ’12 estimation, about 70 percent of girls at Brandeis who have spent time in Israel on a program or vacation own jewelry made by Hadaya.

Adina Weissman ’12 is a prime example of the trend. She owns and often simultaneously wears three pieces of Hadaya jewelry. “The ring I always wear, the bracelet I usually wear and the necklace, sometimes,” she explained. Each piece that Weissman sports carries its own personal story. Weissman bought her donut-shaped necklace, which includes a quote from Psalm 123, with two friends, as a momento from their summer together and a testimony to the group’s favorite Shabbat song.

Weissman’s ring, which she engraved with the names of her grandparents and the words “You will always be in my heart,” reminds her to capitalize on time spent with family.

For his ring, Chatinover chose two verses from Psalms. “I had heard them both from songs, and they really spoke to me,” he said. On the outer face is a passage from Psalm 121: “Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. God watches over you; God is your shade at your right hand,” and on the ring’s inside is a separate verse from Psalm 23.

Behind Chatinover’s choice of verses, as he explains it, is something that many Hadaya wearers can identify with—it serves as a persistent, almost mantra-like reminder. For Chatinover, that message is to “remind me of the constant presence of God.”

For Chatinover, the Hadaya ring that is a constant presence on his hand was the product of much contemplation: “Of course, there are personal reasons why I chose the verses that I did. But in general, I had always wanted to wear a ring because I think man rings are really cool. Judge me if you want.” But if you do, keep in mind, “Kings wore rings. The Pope has rings. Mafia bosses wear rings. These are very manly people,” he said.

The reasons to buy vary from person to person and range from wanting to remember a significant experience or group of friends for some, to handpicking the perfect gift for a family member or friend, to helping support the Israeli economy.

“It’s a really meaningful gift, while still being able to give money to help support Israel. It’s a selfish good deed,” summarized Alison Uliss ’12.

The popularity of Hadaya has led some Brandeis students to wonder whether Hadaya’s can truly tout its product as completely personalized and “100 percent unique.” “It’s true that everyone’s is different. But, because it has become so popular, in my opinion it loses some of that uniqueness,” Lora Slutsky ’12 said.

Rosenbaum concurred, adding “the fact that everyone has one cheapens it in some way.”

Reservations aside, the trend at Brandeis is fairly clearly in favor of Hadaya. So for those of you who already own Hadaya paraphernalia, follow Lewis’s tip to maintain your necklace, bracelet or ring’s luster: “If you don’t have polish you can scrub toothpaste on it and it will shine brightly. It’s really quite amazing.”

Menu Title