I moved to Israel in 2012 after meeting my now-husband, Ofir, in India. Two years later, he was called to serve in Operation Protective Edge, spending 40 days at the Gaza border. Alone in my apartment, I had a lot of time to think about my life here, in Israel—my plans, my purpose and my future.
One day, I received an email from a Jewish organization back home, imploring its community members to “buy Israeli products.” It read, “Whether you purchase sandals (Naot), moisturizing cream (Ahava), food products (Elite) or pop (Sodastream), you will be showing Israel that we care.”
I checked out a few of the links they provided, which were either broken or led to sites selling kippot that looked like basketballs. I did a Google search and couldn’t come up with anything much better: commercialized, mass-produced junk food, tchotchkes and Judaica.
Wait a minute, I thought to myself, These are their options?
This made no sense to me as I had spent the past two years living in food and design heaven. For some reason, there seemed to be a huge disconnect between my own shopping cart (often full of beautiful, small-batch, organic, natural, handmade, sustainable items purchased at local markets) and the “Israeli products” that are available to the outside world, sold in mall kiosks and duty-free shops.
More importantly, I know that there are hundreds of small businesses (mostly located in the country’s periphery) that do not have access to the global market nor the means to ship abroad. While Israel is known as the “Start Up Nation” with an impressive high-tech industry, this success is not felt by majority of the population, and many small business owners struggle to make ends meet.
Wouldn’t it be amazing, I wondered, if I could find a way to support these small businesses by selling their products abroad? After a year of careful planning and research, I officially launched Blue Box in July 2015.
Blue Box is a company with a mission: to support Israeli small businesses while giving Diaspora communities a meaningful and hands-on way to connect to Israel. Each month we feature one handpicked Israeli vendor (farmers, artisans, designers, kibbutzim) and ship a selection of their products, as well as their “story” written on a postcard, right to customers’ homes.
Our vendors represent the true diversity of Israeli society, both geographically and culturally: A third-generation beekeeper from Israel’s first kibbutz, a sustainable family-owned farm in the western Galilee, a Hasidic herbalist from the foothills of Jerusalem, a collective of African refugee women in south Tel Aviv and organic vegan commune in the Arava valley are just some of them.
Past boxes have included products such as organic cold-pressed olive oil, halva-flavored almond butter, merlot-infused Dead Sea salts, Ethiopian whole-sesame tahini, anise-flavored honey, guava jam from the Negev, za’atar and other local spice blends and much more. Boxes bring the best diverse and unique tastes of Israel right to recipients’ doors.
To subscribe to Blue Box or give one as a gift, visit our website. We are offering a special promotion for the holiday: simply enter the code “5777” at checkout to receive 10% off your Rosh Hashanah box. Offer valid until September 7, 2016.