Israeli businesses, charity feel the love on Valentine’s Day

While some complain about rising prices for traditional gifts, charity organizes date-a-thon aimed at raising funds for children

 JERUSALEM LOVES snow. (photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR)
(photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR)

Israeli businesses, especially those selling chocolate, flowers, and gifts, are reporting a surge in online sales for Valentine’s Day.

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Despite the holiday falling on a Monday and amid a pandemic, many retailers have so far seen strong numbers from consumers eager to spend their hard-earned cash on gifts for loved ones.

Roi Eliyahu, CEO of VAZA, an online platform for flower bouquets, chocolate, and wine, told The Media Line that demand far outstrips supply during this period.

“People send their significant others [flowers], so demand goes up by 500% in comparison to regular days,” Eliyahu said.

The omicron variant has failed to snuff out sales and in fact appears to have helped boost online business instead.

 Roses for sale in the center of Jerusalem on Valentine's Day. February 14, 2013. (credit: FLASH90) Roses for sale in the center of Jerusalem on Valentine's Day. February 14, 2013. (credit: FLASH90)

“There are definitely more orders this year,” Eliyahu noted. “We see that due to the increase of people in quarantine, they are sending more packages than before.”

Nevertheless, he added that VAZA had had to raise prices by roughly 7% for some flowers, while others – like tulips – are completely out of stock due to extenuating circumstances.

“The cold weather that we experienced in recent weeks has greatly affected the growth of flowers in greenhouses and outdoors,” he said. “So, when there’s a very high demand and the quantities are small, then the prices go up.”

Other e-tailers also said the day of hearts was good for business.

Yaara Kalmanovich is the owner of Cacao Forest, a Jerusalem-based boutique chocolate factory and store that specializes in high-quality handmade products.

Cacao Forest’s online store has several specialty premium chocolate packages geared towards Valentine’s Day. They also offer in-person chocolate-making workshops.

“People are looking for gift ideas and ways to enjoy an outing,” Kalmanovich told The Media Line. “Because of the omicron variant fewer people are ordering workshops and more are ordering package deliveries instead.”

Like Eliyahu, she complained that this year the company had struggled with securing their supply.“The price of raw materials has gone up a lot, but we’re trying very hard not to hurt our customers by raising prices,” she revealed. “We hope we’ll succeed but it’s quite complicated.”

Even though in Israel many celebrate the Jewish holiday of love, which takes place in July or August on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Av, others have taken to celebrating the holiday originally known for its connection to the Christian Saint-Valentine.

As a result, several events linked to the holiday of love are taking place across the country. On Monday, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem will host a discussion with author Yair Agmon about broken hearts and mythological exes, followed by dancing and other musical performances.

In Tel Aviv, several restaurants and bars are hosting special events both for singles and for couples.

Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) on Sunday evening hosted a Valentine’s Day party at Emesh, a popular restaurant in the coastal city.

SACH is an Israeli non-profit organization that provides lifesaving cardiac care to children who are unable to access adequate treatment in their home countries. The organization has saved over 5,900 children from dozens of countries since its founding in 1995.

Matt Keston, chair of the Save a Child’s Heart committee, told The Media Line that they had already sold some 200 tickets for the Valentine’s Day event for singles.

“Every event that we do, we try to raise enough money to save one child,” Keston said. “All the ticket money for these events goes to saving a child’s heart.”

Event organizers sold chocolates and other sweets at the matchmaking event.

“We’re hoping we can set some people up tonight and do a mitzvah for people coming together as well as to raise money for charity,” Keston said ahead of the event.

For the event, SACH partnered with a professional matchmaker: Michal Sharabani, founder of Shidduchagram. Shidduchagram is a private Instagram account geared towards Jewish singles. As part of her matchmaking services, which Sharabani offers free of charge, she posts candidates’ profiles accompanied by a short biography or attempts to match them with someone in her database. Hundreds of singles worldwide have so far made use of Shidduchagram.

“Many of the people on the page have signed up to [SACH’s event],” Sharabani told The Media Line. “I’m very excited.”