Tell Your Aunt Veronica...

It's time to celebrate Hanukkah. Or at least plan for it. And let's be honest: Maine is not exactly a hotbed of Judaica.

But Davida Newman, a Portland-based artist, is trying to change all that with Dalet Designs, her new line of handcrafted jewelry cast of precious metals in a Brunswick foundry. Each piece is inspired by the 22-letter Hebrew alphabet, called the aleph-bet.

The letter dalet means "door," which is a fitting metaphor for Newman's spiritual journey. A longtime visual artist who worked in a variety of media, Newman also taught first-grade Sunday school students. The experience served as an invitation to bring Judaism back into her life.

"Hebrew letters and words stayed with me all week and became more than just the blessings I would read and recite on holidays," Newman says. "Soon I began to see not only the shape those letters took, but also familiar elements and patterns, similar to what I most often use when creating art."

The result is a beautiful, infinitely wearable line of earrings, necklaces and pins in sterling and stones. Nearly everything is under $100. And since there are 22 letters in the aleph-bet, you'll have more than enough options for those eight crazy nights.


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