Do you remember your connection to it?
Do you remember the hours of playing with it?
Do you remember the adventures you took together?
Play contributes directly to children’s development. But it’s toys that stimulate imagination and prolong play. If children are to discover what they are good at, what they like, and who they are then they will need variety in their play and a broad assortment of toys to make it possible. If they don’t have anything Jewish to play with beyond religious ritual toys, how can they incorporate Jewish identity into this discovery? Sure there are plush torahs, menorahs, the ten plagues finger puppets and the mensch on the bench. But what about Jewish identity the rest of the year?
There isn’t a single cool and modern Jewish toy that isn’t holiday related. Something that incorporates Jewish values, culture and identity. We know, because we tried to buy them.
We never felt good about buying Barbies, Bratz, princesses or G.I.Joes. So what are two creative and innovative Jewish moms to do? We got to work.
After a year and a half of research and development, we created Yom Tov Toys.
Yom Tov Toys are high quality, modern designed, Jewish values based toys with vibrant stories. We’re Yom Tov Toys and as artists, innovators, and changemakers we believe that toys are more than just a toy, they’re your child’s imagination!
meet the team
Hi! I’m Elana Gootson (the redhead). I was raised in Tampa Bay and earned my bachelor’s degree from Eckerd College in Sociology with an emphasis in consumer trends. My career started in London and New York City as a consumer trend forecaster in the youth market, forecasting trends for companies like Adidas, Levi’s and Coty Cosmetics.
After experiencing 9/11 first-hand, I moved back to my hometown to pursue a better quality of life and more meaningful work. I’m currently the director of philanthropy and collaborative entrepreneurship at the Jewish Federation in our area where I’ve used my creative marketing skills and deep roots in the community to help re-brand the Jewish Federation and bring needed change to the entire Jewish community. I’m currently pursuing a Masters degree in non-profit management at Gratz College.
Hello! I’m Jessi Sheslow (the brunette). I was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota and currently live in Sarasota, Florida. I earned a bachelor’s degree at Columbia College, Chicago in Film with an emphasis in production and began my career working for The Producers Guild of America, Miramax and E! Entertainment in Los Angeles. It was fun but not very fulfilling, so yada yada yada, I ended up in Sarasota in a job I am deeply connected to.
I am currently the Director of Community Relations at The Jewish Federation in my area where my job is Israel Advocacy, combating anti-Semitism and building relationships in the non-Jewish community. I also host a podcast called “Milk & Honey” about Israel, anti-Semitism and Jewish Culture. It’s this job that led me to Gratz College, where I am currently pursuing a Masters degree in Non-Profit Management.
To make the kickstarter video that introduced our Gani to the world, I had to pry the Gani from my young daughter’s hands. So we’re pretty confident your children will love them too!
Simon Boses is the amazing sculptor who brought our Gani from concept to clay. He is a father, sculptor, toy collector and avid board game enthusiast. He was born Israel, but grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida immersed in the area’s rich and diverse art community. After earning his BFA (in General Sculptural Studies) from Maryland Institute College of Art, Simon was awarded a residency at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Houston, TX. His passion for sculpture and working with children naturally led to designing toys, and his involvement in projects like Yom Tov Toys. Simon currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he owns and operates Make Time, a community Maker Space that focuses on inspiring youth to use tools and technology to learn, create and innovate.