Gary Rosenthal runs a suburban Washington, D.C. studio where handmade contemporary Judaica is crafted, especially in volume before the Chanukah season. Glass, copper, and steel are expertly manipulated in the making of dreidles, mezuzahs, and menorahs.
In the 1980’s, when the former Soviet Union agreed to let hundreds of ‘refuseniks’ out of the country, Rosenthal put several of them to work. After Hurricane Katrina, he sold menorah making kits to 20 synagogues around the country, had the congregants donate their work, and then drove to New Orleans where he gifted the menorahs to 500 Jewish families and threw them a Chanukah Party.
Today, among the workers are two autistic men, both 51 years old who don’t completely understand the significance of the objects they so carefully and lovingly craft. Rosenthal says, “We make art not just to make something. It is to bring people together.” This man puts his money where his mouth is!