z5By Rochelle Maruch Miller

Gedaliah Blum is a man of action. Four years ago, the 33-year-old resident of Eli sat in his living room, reading the newspaper, when he came across an article reporting on the European boycott of products made in Judea and Samaria. “What I had read was intolerable,” he recalls. “I could no longer just relax and read the paper. I felt that these were immoral attacks on people who wanted to live normal and productive lives. And it was obvious that the motivation behind the boycott was the intention to break the spirits of people who just wanted to live in peace. I knew I couldn’t ignore the situation; I had to do something to stop this injustice.”

Fueled by his passion and concern for his neighbors, Gedaliah was able to focus on little else in the ensuing days. “My wife and I are building a family here,” he says. “It’s not an easy life, but a fulfilling one. We are not blind to the pressures and struggles the Jewish people endure in order to live, remain, and grow in the ancient land of the Jewish people.” He adds, “With political and economic pressure coming from both international bodies and domestic institutions and organizations, we decided to do something to strengthen and safeguard the Jewish people’s place in the ancient homeland of Judea and Samaria.

“In 2009, amongst increased calls to boycott Jewish-owned business in Judea and Samaria, we decided to do something about it and created the first all-inclusive business directory for the region. Instead of hiding, we are showcasing our businesses . . . We have witnessed a silent, yet strong group of supporters, both from Israel and from without.”

Gedaliah and his wife, Elisheva, named their directory Dapei Katom (www.dkatom.co.il), which translates to the “Orange Pages,” the color being synonymous with the struggle for Gush Katif. “The energy we witnessed and felt, the unity, love of the nation of Israel and the land of Israel, is what we had in mind when naming the company–not to mention it was a play off of the very well-known ‘Yellow Pages.’

“Our primary goal is to simply bring more money into Judea and Samaria by promoting local business in a way to strengthen the Jewish people’s place in these areas. We now promote more than 2,000 businesses and have pretty good traffic. We are hearing back from businesses that are benefiting from the campaign. Since we started, it was always my dream to create an online store that would enable people throughout the world to purchase from Judea and Samaria. It’s been a long road, and we have just launched ‘Boutique Katom’ (www.bkatom.co.il). The idea is simple: Buy art, bring a bit of Yesha into your home, and know that this purchase will directly affect the greater economy of Judea and Samaria. Revenue from the boutique will be reinvested into Dapei Katom. So, in practical terms, when someone from the Five Towns buys a painting from an artist from Hebron it, in turn, enables a plumber from Shilo to create a website and gain more exposure for his business.”

Featuring over 300 superb works of art from Jewish artists residing in Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria; acronym “Yesha”), Boutique Katom’s motto is “Bring Yesha into your home.” Each visit to the Boutique Katom website affords you an unforgettable visual experience–your personal art exhibit as you savor the scope of Yesha’s artistic talent. A thing of beauty is a joy forever; what better way to enhance your home than with such stunning works of art as “Spirit City” by Orli Ziv, “Upon Thy Walls, O Jerusalem” by David Fisch, “Trees in the Fall” by Hagay Emmanuel, or any of the many other magnificent masterpieces, every one capturing the heart and soul of Yesha.

“Because Dapei Katom is a domestic and much-localized website, we wanted to expand in order to make a much larger impression on the local economy,” Gedaliah explains. “Boutique Katom is an English-language shop for the international community. It’s the first online international boutique showcasing handmade products created exclusively in Judea and Samaria.”

With the concept of showcasing and selling a wide selection of items, Boutique Katom is beginning with original pieces of art, both prints and originals, from some of the most talented people who live in Judea and Samaria. The art is scanned and printed using some of the most sophisticated and advanced technology available today.

Gedaliah says the launch of his website has elicited an enthusiastic response from business owners. “They welcome the tremendous opportunity, this worldwide network we have created for them to expand their business via our website.” He adds, “Today everything is conducted in a virtual world. We all go through life through the Internet, and now more than ever, if you are not there–like it or not–your business doesn’t exist. Our website is accessible to everyone. A resident of Tel Aviv or Kfar Saba who is looking for a professional, reliable plumber or contractor will find one–as well as an abundance of goods and services–by going to our website.

“When you purchase from Boutique Katom, you should know that revenue from the sale is reinvested and channeled to Dapei Katom,” Gedaliah explains. “Here we will be more prepared to promote the thousands of local businesses we currently represent within the directory. Remember, most of these companies are just small businesses, with less than five employees. Bringing just a couple of additional clients per month makes a big difference to their bottom line. And when we can affect a business’s bottom line, we have a direct effect on a growing community. Your support for the Jewish People in its indigenous homeland is essential for the peace and security of Israel.”

If you are looking for a gorgeous and unique Chanukah gift that is sure to be treasured by the recipient for many years, please consider visiting the Boutique Katom website for a multitude of possibilities. Your purchase will be the ultimate gift as well as a true act of chesed. v

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