Rebbetzin Leah Glaser is the founder of Good Yom Tov Gifts, an online gift basket business. Good Yom Tov Gifts caters predominantly to people around the world who wish to send special gifts to “their” people living in Israel. Good Yom Tov Gifts specializes in creative, classy, heartfelt, holiday and life cycle gift arrangements with flare.
How did you get into the gift basket business? Aren’t you a writer, besides being a Rebbetzin? Retail seems like an unexpected shift for you. Is there a secret connection between all of these?
Yes, I suppose I’m a writer at heart! I’m in the process of publishing The Good Yom Tov Collection, an exciting and useful woman-to-woman’s compendium of the chagim, focusing on both the practical and the practically spiritual aspects of each chag. My passion is using words to move people to feel more, to connect more, to contribute more…
As far as being a Rebbetzin, I still scratch my head—okay, my tichel—over that one! I guess for the purpose of this interview, we can simplify things. I am honored to be married to Rabbi Yom Tov Glaser, and together, we are committed to helping the Jewish People in varied realms and needs. All in all, we live a pretty vibrant and self-expressed Jewish life, and do what we can to inspire others to want and achieve the same. Basically, we love seeing people feeling b’simcha (deeply joyful) and connected, to themselves, to one another, and to their Creator.
I think you can un-complicate the seeming web of my life choices by seeing ‘connection’ as the common thread. I look at my gift arrangements as just a different form of communication, bringing people together in goodness. It’s amazing what you can say with the right color scheme, and gift selections that convey your warmth, caring, comfort, and thoughtfulness.
Our arrangements provide a welcome haven in this crazy world: where your eyes absorb the harmony, your brain translates it to well-being and your heart basks in love. I guess you could say that I feel the mitzvah in making these gifts available to others, especially since not everyone has this artistic gift for translating feeling into presents. We are enabling people who live faraway to say “we’re thinking of you” to people in Israel who matter to them.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership. Such a super-rich word. I love it! And not because I’m a stellar leader! But when I see good leadership, I observe it as an art form. So let’s see if I can put it into words.
Leadership is moving others to a positive place, through a combination of example and communication. Good leaders have a clear vision for what needs to be achieved, and a deep appreciation for their humble but critical role in making it happen. They have an amazing balance of sensitivity to others and solid backbone.
What should leaders know about giving gifts?
Oh my gosh! What an open-ended question! I guess it would depend on who the leader is and who the recipient is!
Leaders, in my opinion, need to give meaningful gifts: Meaningful could be that the gift has special significance to either the giver or to the recipient. Ideally of course, it would carry significance for both. If the leader is representative of an organization, gifts would ideally represent a value or service of the organization. Or conversely, the gift can be a reflection of the recipient, showing that the leader “gets” the unique interests of the person who’s being gifted.
I think a wise leader would use their gifting as a means of strengthening the personal relationship as well as strengthening the message or goals shared in the relationship.
Are gifts important, or is it just hype?
When you consider that studies show your average American spends about $900 a year on gifts, we would hope it’s not all hype! According to current Western literature, receiving gifts is one of the top five languages of love in our generation. From a Jewish perspective, gift-giving is a way of fulfilling the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisrael, loving another Jew, which is the main point of the whole Torah!
And our lives are packed with opportunities to so…Almost every month brings with it another chag for highlighting. On top of that are all the life cycle events that we’re constantly invited to share in, with weddings, kiddushes, brisses, bar/bat mtizvahs, just to name a few. Add to that personal accomplishments, Shabbat hosting, get well, gift-giving is a fabulous tool for showing we care about others and value, respect, and cherish who they are to us.
Many people want to give gifts, but they don’t know where to start. What steps should a leader take to start?
Like I suggested before, I think a wise leader would use the holiday or occasion to incorporate gift-giving as a means for furthering his or her mission. So first, they’d want to consider what they want to convey with this gift.
Is it about the recipient personally, like “take some time to relax and appreciate what you/we have accomplished” (classy ceramic mug, Israeli wild-flower teas, fragrant candle, potpourri), or is it about the common project “we’re doing great; let’s keep this momentum going” (gourmet coffee, nice writing paper and pen, great desk calendar) or is it “aren’t these holidays—or Eretz Yisrael—the greatest gift?” (nice bottle of wine, pomegranate candle, locally-harvested honey, seven-species art).
The main thing, in my opinion, is that the leader uses the gift to show appreciation for the individual’s contribution. A quick google search should help them identify a gift company that conveys that sentiment in a “feel” that fits the leader’s needs.
How is gift giving different for family, friends and colleagues?
In this day and age when 1. Traditional borders have been loosened and 2. Most people are craving recognition and appreciation, and will benefit from some outside nurturing, the “rules” of gift giving are pretty similar regardless of your recipient. Make it beautiful, make it thoughtful, make it useful and you’ve made them happy!
Some companies have a policy (or habit) of giving everyone in the office gift-cards that are widely accepted at many stores. Many people like this because they can get whatever they want at the mall. Others find it impersonal. Others say it is practical because they can get what they need, and using the gift card means one less bill at the end of the month. What do you think? And do you offer gift cards at Good Yom Tov Gifts?
I always favor gifts with a personal touch and I actually think that almost any gift can be made personal with a little thought. A gift card to a store that (again) speaks to the recipient’s personal taste or interest, accompanied by a kind note, explaining why the giver chose this store specifically, will most likely be met with deep gratitude and appreciation for the thought invested.
We haven’t offered gift cards til now, but now that you mention it, I like the idea a lot! I think gifts should be more than “having one less bill to pay”. Gift arrangements like the ones we offer at Good Yom Tov Gifts convey nurturing and pampering—they’re like a big hug, and every one can always use a good hug! What a delicious idea to let your recipient choose which gift most nurtures them!