Holiday decorations are a kind of kitsch that doesn’t change much over time. The celebrations are traditional and the accessories are, too, passed down over generations. That becomes a problem when you might want something that matches a little better with your mid-century modern furniture. Three friends in the Los Angeles music industry, Jesse Kivel, David Kitz, and Michael David, are collaborating with artists to update the aesthetic of Judaica with their new brand, Judaica Standard Time.
Included in its first run of products are two styles of menorah created with and handmade by the ceramic artists Ariela Nomi Kuh, of ANK Ceramics, and Bari Ziperstein, of BZIPPY. The ANK Ceramics model is low and linear, made of stoneware, with a speckled glaze in off-white or dark blue giving it a rough-hewn, almost industrial quality. BZIPPY’s is a cubic clutch of nine separate prisms, each with a candle holder on either end, that can be rearranged at will. It’s part sculpture and part children’s block set—something that might stay on your coffee table all year long.
“All three of us are Jewish and have had trouble identifying with the aesthetic of some of the items that we’ve received over the years from family,” Kivel said. He was inspired by using one of Kuh’s mugs at home: “Why can’t something simple and beautiful like this be utilized during the Jewish holidays? With ceramic instead of metal, we wanted the colors to be warm and playful.”
The trio started discussing the concept in February, coming up with a name and a brainstorming document, but the pandemic actually gave them time to execute it—no other projects were going on. They approached artist collaborators, refined the designs, and commissioned an initial run. It’s not like an ultra-rare Supreme drop; the pieces aren’t limited editions and stock isn’t meant to sell out to build hype. The prices, $180 to $200, are more CB2 than art gallery.
Accessibility is important to Judaica Standard Time. “We want to be able to live in both worlds: Have people who might be fairly religious and take the faith very seriously to embrace it… and people who are on the other end of the spectrum,” Kivel said. The goal is to create “new traditional objects. The hope with every piece is that we can pass them down.”
But JST isn’t limited to a single holiday — they’re considering kosher wine collaborations and mezuzahs. It’s a kind of all-encompassing contemporary Jewish lifestyle brand, treading into the territory of Instagram-ready streetwear. The most expensive object available so far is a $1,800 star of David necklace in 14-carat gold, custom made by Vada Jewelry, inspired by a line of Zodiac sign necklaces. Timothée Chalamet glamorized the traditional necklace in Call Me By Your Name; now you can wear one, too.