NEW YORK – Two Jewish-born entrepreneurs are a somewhat unlikely source for some
equally unlikely holiday hits: the Hanukkah Tree Topper and Star of David Tree
Those looking to top their Christmas trees with a Jewish star can
find such ornaments online, and between evangelical Christians and people in
interfaith relationships, the tree toppers are selling like hot cross
buns.RELATED:Christmas Trees from KKL-JNF Forests
Morri and Marina Chowaiki have sold “thousands” of their Hanukkah
Tree Toppers, a Star of David “menorahment” intended to be placed on top of a
Morri Chowaiki was raised Jewish in Los Angeles, and
Marina was raised in Melbourne, Australia, by a German Jewish mother and Greek
Orthodox father. While Marina grew up celebrating Christmas, Morri did not. The
couple decided to decorate their home for Christmas in 2005, and trimmed their
Christmas tree with blue and silver decorations, including dreidels, as a
tribute to both their faiths.
“She decorated a tree and put a
five-pointed star on top,” Morri recalled.
“I asked with a bit of a
chuckle, ‘Couldn’t you put a Jewish star on it?’ She said she couldn’t find one.
I said I would, and I couldn’t. That’s how the idea was born.”
for a patent for his six-sided silver Star of David and started selling it on
Amazon in 2009. Since then, he says, his Hanukkah Tree Topper has become the
site’s No. 1 selling tree topper, as well as its No. 1 selling Hanukka
The Hanukkah Tree Topper is also now sold on SkyMall, the in-flight
shopping service, as well as online at Home Depot and Sears. Thousands of units
have been sold in the US, Canada, the UK, Austria, Ireland, Australia and
“The primary audience is interfaith families, but we also get
many orders from people who want a symbol of Israel and peace on their tree,
when in fact no one in their home is Jewish,” Morri Chowaiki said.
received tons of positive feedback and hundreds of photos of people’s trees on
our Facebook page with their star on top.”
Raphael Varnassal, another
online retailer at Yourtreedition.com
, designed a Star of David Tree
Topper for his family’s Christmas tree in 2010. He and his siblings were raised
Jewish, but his father was Catholic.
“So far, sales have been pretty
strong, especially during the Black Friday weekend,” Varnassal said, alluding to
the shopping days immediately after Thanksgiving.
“As expected, most
customers are from interfaith families or in interfaith
relationships. However, I’ve been surprised by the positive response
Yourtreedition.com has gotten from the religious Christian community,” he
Varnassal noted that he’d had “a lot of very nice dialogue and
interactions through blogs and social networks” with the Christian community.
“I believe for some of them, the Star of David also has an important religious
symbolism as it does for the Jewish people,” he said.
Chowaiki said he
didn’t feel Hanukka and Christmas should or could be integrated into a single
“Both are equally important and should be celebrated as such,”
he said. “We celebrate both.”
He added that “for people who want
to celebrate Christmas with a tree, stockings, gifts, lights and the like, and
have someone Jewish in the home, the tree topper gives those people an
opportunity to have their culture represented as well in a beautiful and
Varnassal explained that “for my family, the Star of
David is a Jewish symbol, but one that carries a meaning which transcends a
single religion. The six points of the star point in all directions with
symmetry and balance. Therefore, it represents an equilibrium that
applies to everyone.”