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Gift boxes let Christians experience Israel while helping small businesses

People looking for a last-minute one-of-a-kind gift can give a taste of the Holy Land while helping Israeli businesses that are suffering because of a loss of religious tourism.

Quarterly Artza subscription gift boxes provide customers with nine artisanal goods from the Holy Land and the stories behind them, as well as provide a source of revenue for Israeli businesses and charities.

The past 20 months have been brutal on Israeli small businesses, Itai Schimmel, the founder of Arts, said. More than 40,000 businesses have been forced to close permanently and an additional 20,000-plus have had to close temporarily.

“It has been totally heartbreaking to see more and more storefronts boarded up each morning,” he said. “Those small businesses rely so heavily on the tourist industry.”

gift businesses

Borders into Israel have been closed for almost two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cities of Bethlehem and Nazareth, which usually host tourists all year round, particularly during the Christmas season, have struggled with “zero source of income.”

“Over 70 percent of both Bethlehem and Nazareth inhabitants’ businesses rely on tourism,” Schimmel said. “To see the Bethlehem markets empty for a second year in a row is truly heartbreaking.”

VISIT THE HOLY LAND: Metro Voice takes our readers to the Holy Land each year. Learn more!

Artza gift boxes are meant to help local artisans stay afloat. The boxes contain food, crafts and other items made by Israeli artisans. To date, Artza has helped more than 42 small businesses and seven charities. Subscribers have raised more than $1.2 million for small businesses.

“Helping small businesses and charities is one of our two core missions at Artza,” Schimmel said. “With every box, we source products from a different region or city in Israel and source the most beautiful hand-crafted gifts, ceramics, foods, spices art and more from the local small businesses and charities that bring that city to life.”

Every box brings another region to subscribers, allowing them to visualize, taste, feel and smell each region. Accompanied with photography and stories, each box teaches the history of each region and alludes to scripture related to those regions.

“And each box brings another area of Israel and the Bible to life in a meaningful, immersive and fun way, one which you can share with others and at the same time, support small local businesses and charities in Israel,” he said. “It is a journey, the gift that keeps on giving.”

For more information or to place an order, visit www.artzabox.com.

–Anita Widaman | Metro Voice