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These Christmas Gifts from Jerusalem Aim to Keep Hope Alive for Artisans During Israel's War

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JERUSALEM – Zak Mishriky owns a third-generation gift shop here in Jerusalem's Old City. He offers a range of gifts from olive wood nativity sets to ancient coins and oil lamps.

"I want to communicate the Biblical truth or the Biblical stories … and the things that were found in our Bible … For example, you know when I sell the coin from Jesus' time, you know, the coin of the Widow's mite.  You see I made this, two replicas of the Widow's mite, and on the top of it, I wrote, 'It's your heart that matters, not your money.'  It's a Biblical truth.  God cares for our heart, He doesn't need any money," Mishriky said.

Workers here do need money, however, so while providing gifts with meaning, Mishriky also supports Christian brothers and sisters struggling during the war.

"We need people who love Christ … to be here … It's important when pilgrims come to Jerusalem, this is not only stone or churches but they can see real people who have experienced God … and testify that His tomb is empty. My business allows people to work, to be productive, to have food on the table and stay here," Mishriky said.

That's where Artza Box also plays a role – a Jewish company designed to bring the holy land to Christians in North America. Itai Schimmel is the founder.

"Artza is a company that I set up during COVID – the idea was to connect people to the Holy Land, to the land of the Bible in a meaningful way, and at the same time support small businesses and charities in Israel with every box they receive. And it's something which is immersive and something that the whole family can enjoy," Schimmel said.

An Artza Box subscription provides locally made gifts four times throughout the year. Now with the war ongoing, Schimmel says this box is more meaningful than ever.

"Because these boxes are directly supporting businesses and charities all over Israel, all of these businesses need help more than ever before. The theme which we chose for this box is Christmas Joy, and it is," he said.

The gifts include a Star of David candle holder, a prayer journal, and a gift from a company affected on October 7th.

"One has the map of Israel with Israeli flag and one says Shalom in English and in Hebrew. And this is made by an organization which is in one of the border towns with Gaza. And it's an institution that was set up to help teenagers and young adults with Down syndrome, special needs, autism. And they were directly impacted on October 7th. A lot of the employees and their volunteers were brutally murdered."

Both Zak's Jerusalem Gifts and Artza Box hope to help keep these local businesses afloat during the war.  

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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel full-time for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism, then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91, and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and the