When I met AIDA Director Aviva Ben-Sira for lunch in the Tel Aviv Hilton this past June, she mostly chatted about “the” upcoming show in Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her enthusiasm was so infectious, I decided that I couldn’t possibly miss attending this big event. As always, she continues to educate the worldwide art communities about the craftsmanship and beauty that comes from the Israeli art world. AIDA’s (Association of Israel’s Decorative Arts) mission is to nurture the development of contemporary decorative artists from Israel by connecting them to an international audience of galleries, institutions, and collectors. Since the organization’s founding in 2003, AIDA has helped the careers of a generation of artists from Israel. Underlying all of AIDA’s activities is the goal of promoting a positive persona of contemporary Israel not often seen, especially in the media. Aviva informed me that about half of this selected group are jewelers, while others work in pottery, glassware, and fiber. I have had the great pleasure of meeting, befriending, and wearing most of these artists’ works. My MamaDonna, Donna Schneier, has been representing a number of them for many years at SOFA, NY Jewelry Week, and BIJOUX, the foremost important shows on the jewelry calendar. Nearly 200 artists from across the US converge for the 43rd annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show from November 8 to November 10 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. This year they were joined by 22 guest artists from Israel. Anja Levitties, show chair, previously selected countries including Germany, South Korea, Lithuania, and Canada. Israel had been selected to participate in 2008, and due to its great success then it was invited again. “We look for a country with a strong arts program and an organizing body to coordinate bringing them here. Not every country has that,” Levitties told The Jewish Exponent. This is nothing new to me. I’ve written and shared so many articles about talented artists from Israel. I’ve written about the wonder of Nirit Dekel’s hand-blown glass jewels, the humor in Liat Ginzberg’s vintage and oversized earrings, the awe of Tzuri Gueta’s magical silicon creatures, the message in Eyal Assuline’s golden cats and urban machinery, the interpretation of Sarah Shahak’s natural inspired bracelets, and I will continue to share more with you this year. Of course, the road trip was planned with “the girls” to drive down to Philadelphia to catch the final day of the show. What could possibly be more fun than an adventure of culture, supporting Israel, and SHOPPING? Okay, but how do I tie this all into a dvar Torah related to the parshah of the week? This proved to be a bit challenging and I’m not quite sure if this will do, but here it goes!

In last week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, the third portion in the book of Genesis, Hashem speaks for the first time to our “Avinu” Abraham (whose name was still Abram at the time). The first sentence of this Torah portion (Genesis 12:1) draws much attention from the commentators. “G-d said to Abram: “Go from your land (Lech lecha mei’artzecha), from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” Thus begins a journey that will lead Abraham to find the land of Canaan, the Land of Israel that is the final and divinely assigned destination of the Jewish people throughout the Bible all the way to today. A look at the Hebrew in this sentence, however, reveals a peculiarity. The word “lech” is a command and leaves a lot of interpretations of the phrase. Commentators offer various meanings of this extra article, translating the sentence as “Go for yourself,” “Go by yourself,” or “Go to yourself,” thereby suggesting many hidden spiritual and perhaps psychological paths for Abraham. This was just the beginning of the top-10 tests for him. There are many messages in Lech Lecha involving personal issues of self-awareness, rebooting, reevaluating, commitment, and just plain faith.

Sometimes I wish I could find straighter paths between art and Torah because I’m not quite sure about this one that is strictly humorous and taps into the need for a girl to just shop with her friends!

Once upon a Sunday in November, my two girlfriends and I “lech lecha m’artzecha,” left the lands of Kew Garden Hills and Flatbush, to Philadelphia, to find the most beautiful crafted jewelry from Abraham’s new home that became our G-d-given home of Israel.

Okay, I tried!! Lol.

Tobi Rubinstein is a retired fashion and marketing executive of 35 years who currently produces runway and lifestyle events for NYFW, specializing in Israel’s leading artists and designers. She is the founder of The House of Faith N Fashion, fusing culture and Torah.  Tobi was a fashion collaboration and guest expert for ABC, Geraldo Rivera, Huffington Post, Lifetime, NBC, Bravo, and Arise. She hosted her own radio and reality TV series. Tobi is a mother, wife, dog owner, and shoe lover.