Standing with Israel? Take a bow

Blue and white bows are popping up on mailboxes in the Birmingham suburbs as a small showing of solidarity has greatly exceeded expectations.

Mountain Brook residents Rachel Mazer and Emily Ulmer Feinstein had traveled to Israel together last year, and after the Oct. 7 attack, many friends and neighbors said they were “unsure how to communicate their feelings,” and asked them how to show support for Israel and their Jewish neighbors.

The two women approached Smiths Variety Shop, which has coordinated numerous mailbox bow campaigns for various causes over the years, including blue and white solidarity bows during a rash of bomb threats to Jewish institutions in 2017. They ordered 50 bows and posted on a local Facebook board that they are available for an $18 donation to the Birmingham Jewish Federation’s Israel Emergency Fund.

Within 48 hours, Feinstein said, there were 375 donations.

The response was so overwhelming, they had to recruit volunteers to put together smaller bows, and have a table at the Levite Jewish Community Center for people to pick up the bows. After a week, the tally stood at 600 orders.

Feinstein said that the Smith’s bows are double in size, and some people definitely prefer theirs, but the smaller ones were done as a way to fill the demand for those who weren’t concerned about which bow they would get.

“Smith’s has been an amazing partner… and were very proud to support this project” she said.

Feinstein said other communities are looking to replicate the project and have asked them for the promotional materials — and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find supplies of blue and white ribbon online.

After a couple days of distribution at the LJCC, pickup for the bows has reverted to Smith’s, and an increasing number of mailboxes over the mountain are now sporting the bows.