June 24, 2024
Close this search box.
Close this search box.
June 24, 2024
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Playground Kiddush Club Makes Wearable Happiness

Isabella Glaser-Bennaim

Isabella Glaser-Bennaim is harnessing the happiness of kids at play to design clothing, accessories and jewelry with whimsical flair. She loves bringing a smile to the face of her customers with her creations. But she also has a serious purpose: She is using the money from sales to deliver specialized medical equipment to units of the IDF. “These units have a very specific mission—to evacuate and treat injured soldiers,” she said. “I work directly with command. They give me prioritized lists, I get the items and get them to Israel. This equipment has been saving a lot of lives.” The actual supplies are paid for by donors into a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) fund. The proceeds from Glasser’s sales fund the cost of purchasing the duffels to pack the supplies, which cost about $22 each, and $50-$75 to ship.

Glaser-Bennaim came to appreciate the importance of playgrounds, when she moved to Teaneck before COVID, and found that the playground was where her children could make friends with other kids and she could meet local moms. The friendships helped soothe the pain she was feeling from losing four family members in two years. She was able to connect to her own inner child, as well as the positivity of the people around her. She named her company The Playground Kiddush Club to reflect the inspiration she gets from children at play and the importance of Jewish pride and unity.

Duffel bags from The Playground Kiddush Club.

In 2023, she met IDF Captain Daniel Weiss, who makes annual visits to Bergen County. She developed a bond with him and started soliciting donations to purchase and deliver critical medical supplies for his unit. The soldiers have become like brothers, she said, and her kids call them ‘uncles.’ She even purchased boots for them—it was not an easy feat to coordinate all the sizes and requirements. Since October 7, the need has skyrocketed and now she helps a few additional units.

Around the time she met Weiss, Glaser-Bennaim started to work on creating art, something she had always wanted to do but never found the time to master. She was trained as a social worker and worked at the U.N., where she used her language skills, developed from her German/Brazilian background. Once she devoted herself to art, she quickly learned how to translate her ideas into products and found enthusiastic buyers. She taught herself photography, social media promotion, event planning and the marketing skills needed to run a company. She formed The Playground Kiddush Club in November to bring together both her passions: creating art that brings joy and saving lives in Israel.

Bracelets from The Playground Kiddush Club.

Glaser-Bennaim is very excited about her newest design: t-shirts with photos of dogs wearing caps with a Jewish star logo. “I wanted to bring honor to dogs who tried to protect their families on October 7,” she said. Many dogs were shot by the marauding invaders. Some of the canines saved lives by scaring away the terrorists. The story of a girl who managed to bring her dog with her when she was kidnapped to Gaza was widely told in news reports and on social media.

When Glaser-Bennaim developed her idea for the shirt, she looked for someone to help her take the right photos. She was connected to photographer Lynn Oframe, who works with rescue dogs, and she arranged the shoot. Glasser-Bennaim sent initial samples to the chayalim she works with, who loved the idea. Shirts are now for sale on her website, and will be produced on a made-to-order basis. She is giving the proceeds from these sales to Lev Echad, the Bergen County group purchasing and sending supplies to chayalim. Lev Echad started with a few dedicated people and is now a well-structured organization.

Isabella Glaser-Benaaim’s new t-shirt modeled by Shai Kropveld, IDF medical officer (l) and Captain Daniel Weiss (r),
with the designer in the middle.

Glaser-Bennaim designs her clothing to make people feel good. There’s a clinical term for it: dopamine dressing. “Wearing bright colors makes you happy,” she said. “I embrace the bright and the silly. There’s too much darkness.”

The designer’s acrylic dog tags are made to look like sea glass. “Pieces of glass on the beach get smoothed over by the waves—like Israel goes through trials and tribulations but becomes a beautiful thing.” The saying on the tags in Hebrew translates to “We have no other land.” Her bead bracelets were inspired by the Israeli artist Ron Agam, who champions rich colors and shapes. She has bracelets embroidered with “Am Yisrael Chai” and ones made from paracord, an essential item for chayalim. The Hamsa, a symbolic hand representing protection and security, lends itself to infinite designs. Glasser-Bennaim’s interpretations use rich colors and abstract designs to create art for your desk or wall.

Want a fun way to carry your stuff? There’s the “Schlep” duffel and two different designs of “Balaboosta.” Use it for the gym or to bring made-with-love meals and treats to your married children who would obviously starve without your help.

Sea-glass dog tags with inscription in Hebrew (English translation: “We have no other land”).

Glaser-Bennaim is hopeful that the war will end soon and she can transition to creating economic opportunities for Israelis by giving artists a platform through her website. She has started offering mezuzahs made by a lone soldier who is an artist to give him some income. He is part of a volunteer unit that goes into Gaza and then has a break while it waits for reactivation. The intermittent duty makes working at a job impossible. She is working with an Israeli designer for future collections and is making arrangements with Israeli manufacturers to produce her products. “My long-term goal is to help injured chayalim and the Israeli economy.”

Glasser encourages you to “embrace your inner kind (Yiddish for “child”). To view her complete collection, visit https://playgroundkiddushclub.com/ or https://www.instagram.com/playgroundkiddushclub/

Glaser-Bennaim purchased close to 80 boots for Captain Weiss’ unit in 2023. The soldiers need to have the same shoes, and it was difficult to find combat boots in Israel.
Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles