With Hanukkah beginning tonight (I'll be manning the latke station at my house tonight) it seems fitting to talk to the head honcho of one of the web's best spots for playful, smartly designed Judaica: Modern Tribe. I talked with Modern Tribe founder Jennie Rivlin Roberts about her favorite holiday traditions, what makes for a good menorah, and how to best display the fried potato pancakes I crave all year long.
Everyone knows that you need a menorah and a dreidel for a good Hanukah, but what about some other holiday-appropriate gear? Most Hanukkah decorations are TACKY. It is a breath of fresh air to find great decorations! Modern Star of David Hanukkah Decorations ($24) and new this year. The Original Hanukkah Decorations by Polli ($24). I love these Match Strikes by Jonathan Adler and have one sitting next to our menorahs. They are playful, modern, and hold what everyone needs for Hanukkah: lots of matches! Good looking candles are a must-have. I've seen many a modern menorah spoiled by ugly blue tie-dye-looking candles. These Chanukah Candles are simple, eco and dripless organic vegetable wax in ivory for $10. The ModernTwist Placemats are $18 each, make great menorah drip cloths...and also place mats for your Hanukkah table. They have silver or golden "drizzles." Loads of Judaica can be pretty kitschy. Have you got a favorite designer or company really making a modern mark on Jewish ritual objects?There are several small design houses that make a handful of items such as Studio Kahn who makes the Fragile Menorah, or Areaware who makes the Wrought Iron Menorah. As far as a large collection of modern Judaica, Jonathan Adler wins. Michael Aram's pieces are also modern but more of what I call "New Natural": design elements from nature executed in sleek and modern materials. What's your favorite Hanukah tradition?That's tough...I love all of Hanukkah, even the smell of grease that permeates the house after frying latkes. I guess my favorite moments are turning down the lights and lighting the menorahs in the dark. Then watching the room get brighter and brighter as each menorah is lit. Which menorahs from Modern Tribe would work best in a clean, modern interior? Do you use one that you sell on Modern Tribe?I have have so many menorahs even with 16 nights of Hanukkah we wouldn't use them all. It is difficult for me not to keep one of each! Some of my favorites that are modern and sleek are these: The Classic Modern Menorah is great and costs $250. The coolest travel menorah ever, Hanukkah Electronica ($18), has a simple, clean design. Take this one with you on vacation to the Delano or the Mondrian (or insert trendy modern hotel here -- I'm not 100% up on what modern hotels are hot these days). The Fragile Meonorah is modern and also "postmodern" in its philosophy: you break it to make it! ($129)And any objects dedicated to those delicious greasy latkes?This Stainless Steel Latke Server is sleek and won't look out of place in your modern kitchen $6. Our go-to bowls for apple sauce and sour cream are the small and medium Jonathan Adler's Bird Bowls. To season your potato pancakes to perfection, use the Fragile Salt & Pepper Shakers, also break to make.You invented a new Hanukkah game called No Limit Texas Dreidel. How did that happen and when is the Settlers of Catan dreidel coming out?Ha! I haven't played Settlers in 15 years. "No Limit Texas Dreidel" happened because all the right ingredients came together: (1) Super Hanukkah Enthusiast (me) meets (2) Chic Geek (my husband) who both (3) read Positively 5th Street and become poker players and enthusiasts, then (4) take a long road trip together. Put all these things together and "No Limit Texas Dreidel" emerges! The maker of Operation Maccabee would possibly make a Settlers dreidel game but he couldn't possible call it "settlers" (get it?). Oy Vey!