From Mayan hands to an Albany warehouse to HBO’s Sex and the City reboot


ALBANY – TV character Harry Goldenblatt made a bold and tasteful choice by wearing a rainbow yarmulke to his child’s gender-specific “she mitzvah” skirt.

Goldenblatt and his character wife, Charlotte, welcomed a bevy of similarly high-profile guests to the affair, and gave a silent salute to an Albany-based company, including the headgear in the celebration as a sign of acceptance and support for their beloved child during the season finale of “And.” Just Like That”.

Kippah is the Hebrew word for a kippah, the Yiddish word for a brimless cap traditionally worn by Jewish men to fulfill the religious obligation to keep their heads covered as a sign of devotion.

The colorful kippot – plural of kippah – was designed in the capital region by fair trade non-profit organization Mayan Hands.
While the rainbow kippah is a symbol of solidarity with the LGBTQ community in the HBO reboot of “Sex and the City,” what it represents is also closely tied to Mayan Hands’ cultural mission to embrace and embrace the culture strengthen.

The organization connects Mayan artisans in small Guatemalan villages to global markets so they can sell their artisanal products and receive fair compensation for their work.

Mayan Hands co-founder Brenda Rosenbaum founded the organization in the 1990s after years of anthropological work and research in Guatemala, where she was embraced by these hardworking women.

“It just struck me that even though these women were amazing, really talented artists…they are extremely poor and discriminated against in their countries,” Rosenbaum said.

The Maya women Rosenbaum met in the Guatemalan highlands had tried everything they could to make a living, but were disappointed and often only made enough money to eat. Their craftsmanship is known worldwide. But many sold their handicrafts at exploitative prices in order to survive.

Often times, Mayan women would sell a kippah for $1. But they charge Mayan Hands $4 each. According to Rosenbaum, the organization sold nearly 3,400 kippot in 2019 and just over 3,000 last year.

The women make about 450 kippot a month, which are taken to and distributed from a warehouse in Albany.

While the kippot is an example of artisans’ crochet work, they are perhaps best known for their traditional weaving.

Unlike commercial weavers, these women do not use any electrical or mechanical tools. Instead, they weave their textile art using an ancient loom that dates back roughly thousands of years. The backstrap loom, an instrument tied to their culture made out of sticks.

Mayan folklore suggests that the backstrap loom descended from a moon goddess named Ixchel, who used the tool to teach the first woman to weave at the dawn of time. Since then, the loom has become a generational legacy that women pass down to their daughters to create fabrics and preserve their indigenous culture.

The backstrap loom is also economically critical to the ability of Maya women to earn an income and provide for their families.
The women Rosenbaum works with can make a variety of fabric products, but most of their creations are Judaica products, including kippot.

And like Goldenblatt’s humanoid character, the Maya women and Rosenbaum appreciate Jewish culture. Rosenbaum named one concept in particular.

“I love this concept in Judaism that when you celebrate something joyful in your life, you can make someone else a part of their joy, benefit someone else by including them in some way,” she explained. “That also moves me a lot.”

She said that happened when HBO Max called her to inquire about Kippot. In November, an HBO producer called her to say they found their shop online and needed 60 Kippot for the show.

Not long after she sent HBO a bundle, she received a second call from the company requesting another 60. She sent off another package and waited.

“That’s all we knew,” she said. “We waited to see when they would be used.”

Then, as Rosenbaum took a closer look at the season for “And Just Like That,” she spotted her — her bright, crocheted yarmulke sitting proudly over the bald head of actor Evan Handler, who portrayed Goldenblatt and the partygoers.

“It was very exciting because we thought about the women who make them and who come out with their beautiful creations,” she said.

“They are not in extreme poverty and … their artistry comes out for the world to enjoy,” she added.


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