While many cannot travel overseas due to coronavirus travel restrictions, Christians can get a taste of the Holy Land delivered to them this Christmas season, and at the same time, support businesses. women in trouble as thousands have closed due to declining tourism.
The quarterly Artza The subscription gift boxes provide customers with nine handcrafted products from the Holy Land and the stories behind them, as well as a source of income for Israeli businesses and charities.
The past 20 months have been “brutal” on Israeli small businesses, Itai Schimmel, founder of Artza, told the Christian Post in a recent interview. Over 40,000 businesses have been forced to close permanently and over 20,000 others have been forced to close temporarily.
“It was totally heartbreaking to see more and more storefronts closed each morning,” Schimmel described. “Those [are] small businesses that rely so heavily on the tourism industry.
Borders with Israel have been closed for almost two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cities of Bethlehem and Nazareth, which typically receive tourists all year round, especially during the Christmas season, have struggled with “zero sources of income.”
“More than 70% of the businesses of the people of Bethlehem and Nazareth depend on tourism. Seeing Bethlehem’s markets empty for the second year in a row is truly heartbreaking, ”said the Israeli resident.
Artza gift sets 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 over 42 small businesses and seven charities. Subscribers raised over $ 1.2 million for small businesses.
“Helping small businesses and charities is one of our two main missions at Artza,” said Schimmel. “With each box, we buy products from a different region or city in Israel and buy the finest gifts, ceramics, food, spices, etc.
Schimmel told CP they have seen business owners “cry in gratitude on the phone … as we place our orders”, saying the organization has helped them provide “enough income to stay open for a few more months “.
“We are truly grateful to be able to connect people from all over the world to these businesses and charities in Israel,” he said.
“Our other primary mission is to bring the stories of the Bible to life, to connect our subscribers to their faith, places, stories, people, and the land of the Bible,” he added.
Each box brings another region to subscribers, allowing them to visualize, taste, smell, smell each region. Accompanied by photographs and stories, each box teaches the history of each region and alludes to the scriptures related to those regions.
“It’s a box that makes sense. So the next time you read the Bible, you might say, ‘Hey, I know this place. I have experienced it myself, ”said Schimmel.
Schimmel created the idea of the Faith-Filled Boxes in March 2020 during the early days of the pandemic.
He noticed how small businesses were affected and how tourists could no longer visit Israel. He wanted to help. He remembers thinking, “How do we keep people connected? ”
“We decided to create a quarterly subscription box that would arrive at your door once every three months,” argued Schimmel. “And each box brings a different region of Israel and the Bible to life in a meaningful, immersive, and fun way that you can share with others, and at the same time, support local small businesses and charities.” in Israel. It’s a journey, the gift that keeps on giving.