The founder of an organization that fights Israel boycotts by promoting products made in Judea and Samaria, better known as the West Bank, will be in the Valley next month to encourage American Jews to show their support for Israel by purchasing Israeli goods.
Nati Rom founded Lev HaOlam about three years ago when, after his military service, he began helping to build villages in Judea and Samaria “to go back to our roots, to our connection with G-d, with the land of Israel.” After noticing the effect the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement had on the businesses in the area, “we started to help the small producers here, the pioneers, sell their products,” he told Jewish News in a Skype interview.
Through Lev HaOlam, supporters sign up to receive a monthly gift package. The $99 package includes a variety of products by vendors living in the area; a detailed letter about the vendors and products; and a roundup of the latest news from Israel. For example, a recent box included a Lev HaOlam T-shirt, a jar of Sweet Dulce de Leche by a dairy farmer, a package of mushroom risotto from Tekoa Farms, a box of dark chocolate from the De Karina Chocolate Factory, a bottle of Adagio perfume and a magnet map of the areas designated to the 12 Tribes in the Bible.
“We wanted to find a way to connect with the grass-roots movement, with people who support Israel,” Rom said. Lev HaOlam works with hundreds of vendors, primarily those who would benefit most from the group’s assistance.
“We change lives” and “create more jobs,” he said.
During his first visit to Arizona – he previously visited Jewish communities in New York, Florida and Europe – Rom, 36, will speak at Young Israel of Phoenix at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 11, and at an April 12 concert at the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus.
The concert, as well as his visit, is hosted by AZEVJ.faith, also called everythingjewish.com, a website formed by three Valley residents: Harvey Malkin, whose background includes being a business owner, entrepreneur, manufacturer and consultant; Moshe Samuel, who has a full-time tutoring practice and is the education director of the newly formed online AZEVJ Hebrew Institute; and Charles Manos, founder and managing partner of Superstition SEO and chuckmanos.com, who designed the site.
“AZEVJ.faith provides a forum to connect with the Jewish people, with their thoughts, their lives, their businesses, their present and past and their future,” Malkin wrote in an email. Future plans include online educational videos, business networking and Shalom Tours, which will offer tour packages to Israel.
One of the reasons that the group is bringing Rom to the Valley is because they believe in the work he is doing, and the belief that “if you bring prosperity, you bring peace,” said Malkin.
“People who love Israel and support Israel are a minority,” said Rom. “The majority of the world wants to kill us.” When looking back at history, “we always say, ‘How come people didn’t act?’ ” he said. “We are living now, in the history of the future, and people will ask us what we did when products of Jewish people were boycotted and tagged, what we did when [Jews] again cannot go with a kippah in the world without fear in their heart.
“It’s time to be active. This is not only my Israel, it’s your Israel also.”
This article first appeared in the March 25 issue of Phoenix Jewish News.