Creating Jewish Community Online Through Art

When Amalia Prohofsky was in high school, she made and sold jewelry to help fund her trip to study abroad in India.While many people supported her, she remembers that the Jewish community really turned out. “People would reach out to me because they needed a bat mitzvah gift, for instance, and they also wanted to support me. It was a good feeling, and I want to facilitate that happening more,” she said.

 

Now an artist and database developer, Amalia is creating a website where local Jewish artists can sell their work. She’s calling it Esti Twin Cities — yes, it’s an intentional play on the name Etsy. Amalia is using the same type of multi-vendor marketplace design championed by Etsy to sell handmade items. However, Etsi Twin Cities won’t take a percentage of the sale price. Instead, a percentage of each sale will go to a local Jewish non-profit organization of the artisan’s choice.

 

Amalia likens her concept to Sisterhood giftshops that she saw when growing up in St. Paul. “My goal is to have it stay on a smaller, local scale,” she explained. “It’s a little virtual gift shop that benefits synagogues and other Jewish organizations.”

 

"The YALA grant provides young Jews with the opportunity to explore new ideas."


By keeping Esti Twin Cities small and local, Amalia hopes the site will create an online community within the Jewish community through which people can support local artists and the organizations they care about at the same time.

“There is connection between members of the Jewish community where even if you don’t know each other well, you are still connected,” she said. “I think that is a powerful thing. It pushes us to build a stronger connection and get to know each other more.”

 
Amalia received a YALA Mini-Grant to help her build and maintain the website, and she is in the research and conception phase now. She appreciates that the YALA grant provides young Jews with the opportunity to explore new ideas, whereas many traditional grants are available only for established projects.

 

“There is connection between members of the Jewish community where even if you don’t know each other well, you are still connected,” she said. “I think that is a powerful thing. It pushes us to build a stronger connection and get to know each other more.”

For local artist and YALA Mini-Grant recipient Amalia Prohofsky, art is one way to interact with her Jewish community. Kippah by Amalia Prohofsky.

YALA Mini-Grants help young adults with new ideas for programs or resources get their passion projects started. Powered by Young Adult Leadership Action (YALA) Twin Cities, co-sponsored by St. Paul Jewish Federation and the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, the grant program helps incubate projects by providing financialresources, promotion, and other support. Learn more at jewishtwincities.org/yalagrant.