Samson Jewelry for Israel has several exclusive collections of fine jewelry with exquisite design, outstanding craftsmanship and displays of Jewish themes. A percentage of each sale is directed by the customer to the Jewish or Israeli nonprofit organization of their choice. Samson Jewelry for Israel sells direct to consumers through its website, bringing in customers from all over the world. A tour through the website shows pendants, anklets, rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces and tallit clips, available in 14k yellow, white or rose gold, and some in.925 sterling silver. Many have precious stones including diamonds and sapphires. One of the many unique features on several pieces is a customizable nameplate, making the jewelry an especially personal and meaningful gift.
Rob Samson is a Florida-based jeweler and entrepreneur. He rolled out the website in August, but the company really began with an idea he had for one product two years ago. He developed a pendant of a Jewish star engraved with the Shema prayer and a chai, with and without precious stones. A friend asked him if he could also make a necklace. His first thought was that necklaces were “a dime a dozen.” But he started thinking about what he could make that would be unique, and developed a necklace made of linked stars of David. Bracelets, anklets and earrings followed. And new designs kept coming.
Samson gets many of his ideas at night, when he is resting but his mind is working in overdrive. In the morning, he searches the internet to see if anyone else is making what he just dreamed up. Next month he is adding his exclusive mezuzah and chai designs.
His latest collection is the addition of sports-themed Judaica jewelry. In the center of the star of David ring, bracelet or pendant is the likeness of one of 14 sports, such as a tennis, racquet or basketball, and can be ordered with or without a customizable nameplate.
The combination of sports, jewelry and Judaism is the merger of Samson’s three worlds. As a child, he began a lifelong fascination with metals that come from the ground when his father took the family on a trip panning for gold in North Carolina. He began working in the jewelry business after college but left to pursue a career in entertainment. He began wrestling professionally, and then owned gyms for 25 years.
With the decline of brick-and-mortar businesses and the rise of internet selling, Samson returned to jewelry in 2015, primarily making logos for companies. He loved the positivity of jewelry; it’s always for happy occasions. He started thinking about what more he could do, and thought about something that appealed to his spiritual side. “I wanted to make jewelry with a purpose, not just to sell beautiful Judaica; people were already doing that. I had the resources in the jewelry business and also in web design, manufacturing and marketing. I wanted to do something with ruach, that had meaning and purpose, to make my friends and family proud, and give my kids a legacy. And to honor my ancestors.”
His memories of the stories he heard on his grandfather’s lap, about fleeing persecution in Russia, then Cuba and finally coming to America, made him think about how fortunate we are to have Israel, a Jewish homeland, so Jews always have somewhere to go. “Having a Jewish homeland is the biggest blessing a Jew can have,” said Samson. “My mission, through the website, is to help and support Israel and our precious Jewish heritage.”
Samson is reaching out to Jewish individuals and nonprofit organizations, sending emails to tell them about the company and how anyone who makes a purchase can direct a percentage as a donation. A response from Rabbi Moishe Kievman of Chabad Chayil in North Miami Beach came back quickly. “It’s a win-win situation,” said Rabbi Kievman, who is telling members about the jewelry by newsletter and email. Samson is also giving them a piece for their raffle. “He is trying to do something good; it’s a nice thing, why not?”
At their two-hour afternoon meeting, Rabbi Kievman gave Samson something as well. “It’s 2:30 in the afternoon and Rabbi Kievman asked me if I had done tefillin yet,” Samson recalled. “I haven’t used the tefillin I have from my bar mitzvah in a while. He said, ‘Let’s do it right now’.” And they did, with a pair Rabbi Kievman had on hand. When one customer told Samson she doesn’t have a particular organization to earmark for her donation, he suggested Chabad Chayil, now in the midst of a fundraising campaign to move out of a three-bedroom ranch house and into their own building.
Samson’s enthusiasm is contagious, and his work speaks for itself. On a vacation in the Hamptons this summer, he showed photos to a group of people sitting on the beach, and caught the attention of Judy, a resident of New York’s Upper East Side, who thought his work was very original and nice. “I decided to ask him to make something for me,” she said. “I am having a custom bracelet made for one of my daughters. The bracelet is made with links of weights (dumbbells). Within the Jewish star there is a tennis racquet and the personalized nameplate. It’s not for a particular occasion, but it will be a surprise.” Judy said she wouldn’t ask anyone else to do it. And she loves that the purchase includes a donation. She plans to have hers sent to UJA or Hadassah.
Many of the orders Samson is getting are for gifts. With supply chain shortages in jewelry, as in all industries now, it’s not too early to think about Chanukah, which starts Sunday, November 28. Purchase a destined-to-be-an-heirloom piece of jewelry for yourself or as a gift, and your favorite Jewish nonprofit benefits too. Visit www.SamsonJewelryForIsrael.com.
By Bracha Schwartz