Don’t Just Give Alms, Teach How to Earn!
Charity is an essential part of Jewish lifestyle. Mostly all of Jewish customs and traditions teach how to be kind to others. Even while gifting during a festival, it is seen that people in all strata of society can enjoy a feast. I like Jewish customs because of the deep insight of helping others taught through them. And when I learnt about Rambam’s teaching, my respect for Jewish teachings increased even more. According to Rambam, a 13th century great Jewish philosopher, the greatest level of charity is to give the needy a job or to teach the person a trade which can help to make a living.
This teaching has been well-followed by the owners of an award-winning jewelry company in Israel, Orna and Isaac Levy. They have started a school where jewelry trade is taught to Ethiopian immigrants.
The school is housed in a beautifully renovated century-old stone building in Motza, which is west of Jerusalem, a short distance away from the highway connecting Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem.
The Levys’ Yvel business is a leading one in the field of creating high-end jewelry designs of various gemstones and gold. Yvel is world-famous for their jewelry. They are in the business since 1986 and create high quality designs of pearls, diamonds, sapphires and some such world’s best gemstones. Their ads feature noted celebrities like Rihanna, Maria Sharapova and Scarlett Johansson. Yvel is the name given after Levy spelled reverse. 90% of their employees are Jewish immigrants and interestingly, they have a facility to take a break in the early afternoon to offer a prayer.
The said training school for the Ethiopian immigrants is an outstanding feature of the Levys. Its name is Megemeria, which means Genesis in Amharic. About 21 students are being benefited by this school and they have chosen for the training because of their artistic sense and precision. Some of the students had very poor knowledge of Hebrew and Mathematics. However, they were supported by the Yedid Association for Social Empowerment. This organization works for Ethiopian immigrants and other less privileged Israelis. The students were motivated and given the required skills of Hebrew and Mathematics and then were given admission to the training of jewelry making. However, Orna Levy is behind the support they got at the Yedid. She, being the childhood friend of deputy director of Yedid, took things further for the students.
The first batch of students has completed the course successfully and has created Genesis line of jewelry which has been kept for sale in the Yvel showroom, along with other exquisite pieces. The Genesis line consists of amazing bracelets, earrings, rings and pendants made of gold-plated brass; they range from $50 to $200. The specialty of the pieces is each of them contains a hidden message in Amharic, the mother-tongue of their makers. Some of the messages are ‘friendship’, ‘love’ and ‘forever’.
These students will work as professional jewelers with Yvel and will be much uplifted from their previous positions of security guards or house-cleaners. Thus Orna and Isaac Levy are appropriately performing a Mitzvah.