By David Morris - FJN Editor
Just last month as missiles rained down upon Israel, world Jewry responded by giving millions of dollars to reduce the suffering caused by the war. With Israelis now faced with restoring a once vibrant economy to its pre-war level, Jews living outside of Israel can play an important role in this recovery by increasing their purchase of Israeli-made products. FJN would like to recognize the efforts of several Hebrew day schools in South Florida and their relationship to Blue and White Kids, an Israeli manufacturer of school and camp clothing. The company produces a wide variety of the company''s T-shirts, polo shirts, sweat shirts, sweat pants, pajama pants and skirts now being worn by students of the Brauser Maimonides Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Greenfield Hebrew Academy in Miami and The Samuel Scheck Hillel Community Day School/Ben Lipson Hillel Community High School in North Miami Beach.
Blue and White Kids is owned and managed by Gary Swickley, a Harvard MBA graduate. Swickley says he always loved the idea of starting a business in Israel having to do with clothes.
Blue and White Kids makes clothing for school dress code programs as well as promotional spirit wear, says Swickley. We are both a manufacturer and a wholesaler and just about every aspect of producing our clothing is 100% done in Israel. We knit the fabrics, dye them, design the patterns, cut, sew, print and embroider everything here. Only a small number of our items are made of imported fabrics.
Blue and White Kids has over 100 customers in the United States and the company''s newest Florida client is the Orlando Hebrew Day School. Aside from his school and camp wear, Swickley has made special event clothing and accessories for corporations and Jewish youth organizations including the Southeast regions of both United Synagogue Youth (USY) and the National Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY).
Chani Dennis, who director of communications and public relations at the Samuel Scheck Hillel Community Day School and the Ben Lipson Hillel Community High School, says that one of the school''s core values is giving financial support to Israel in whatever ways possible.
Hillel made the decision two years ago to locate an Israeli manufacturer to add a uniform option for the elementary school which has over 400 students. Currently, one of the elementary school uniform options is a foldover skirt, in blue and khaki, that we buy from Blue and White Kids, Dennis said. The skirt is very popular because it is fun to wear, comfortable and a totally cool alternative to the standard pleated skirts that many schools require. The company has a Florida representative who brings samples right to school so the kids can order or have their parents can go online to order the skirts directly from Israel.
Hollywood resident Raisy Gittler is the South Florida representative for Blue and White Kids.
I was looking for a job and found out through Brausner Maimonides where my kids go to school that the company was looking for a sales person, Gittler said. Beside their clothing products being so affordable and at the same time modest yet fashionable, both the parents and the kids just love them. And of course there is the added attraction of supporting Israel through the purchase of something that is very important for the students, namely, the way their school uniform looks and feels.
Greenfield Hebrew Academy's school board president, Karen Samole Berger, discovered Blue and White Kids two years ago at a convention of The Council of Independent Day Schools (known as Ravsak).
The quality of Gary''s clothing is simply the best and he''s so wonderful to work with, Berger said. He''s created a fresh, young, cool look that the kids actually love wearing. We had a logo the kids were getting tired of and he made a variation of it for us that looked different and new. We''ve always wanted to support an Israeli company and even though it''s 6,000 miles away, we received the shirts for our Israel Independence celebration in just two days and we sold out immediately.
Swickley recently added a line of quality baby products such as babygros, blankets, hats and outfits as well as a line of promotional clothing that carries unusual, funny Jewish messages.
We also offer our clientele numerous other quality Made-in-Israel products that we do not make ourselves, but by other Israeli manufacturers such as Hebrew children''s books that are translations of classic English titles, carry-on bags, tzizit and kipot, says Swickley. We makes a range of high quality fun clothing'' ideal for bar and bat mitzvah party favors with a strong Made-in-Israel message. We especially love it when families choose to have their Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations in Israel. For them we have a whole range of promotional clothing for party favors that can be delivered to their hotel or to America for pre-flight distribution. Once we made sweatshirt blankets and carry-on bags for a simcha where the host distributed them to their guests at the airport so they could use them on their flights both to and from Israel.
For information, call 954-646-