“You had me at Shalom.” “I love you a latke.” “Challah if you knead me.”
If witty, clever, Jewish-themed greeting cards and holiday cards make you smile, you’ll have a terrific time shopping online at Modern Mitzvah – a new, digital, Scottsdale-based Judaica boutique. Not only will you find the perfect, schmaltzy sentiments to send, you’ll also discover a wide variety of beautiful Judaica art to celebrate a wedding, bar or bat mitzvah, bris, baby naming, or a move into a new home.
There is even a card specially designed to welcome a new baby or if you wish to congratulate someone on converting. The words on the card are the same: “A New Jew!”
Founded by Scottsdale graphic designer Laura Bercovich, Modern Mitzvah was born in 2018 – the same year Laura gave birth to her first child – a now 2-year-old daughter named Elsie.
A 2005 graduate of Chaparral High School, Laura earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations with a minor in religious studies from Gonzaga University.
It was while she was working as a public relations intern for the JCC in Scottsdale that she first discovered a natural talent and enormous interest in graphic design. She recalls being asked to design a promotional flyer for an upcoming event, and she immediately fell in love with the graphic design work needed to create a dynamic, eye-catching flyer.
“It all happened by accident. Graphic design became my favorite part of the job, and by the end of my internship, it was clear to me that graphic design was what I was meant to pursue,” says Laura. She enrolled in the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and, after four years, earned a master’s degree in graphic design.
Her first job after graduation was an impressive one. She was hired by Lucasfilm in San Francisco to design “Star Wars” logos, emblems and patterns for licensed goods like lunch boxes, bedspreads, pajamas and T-shirts. It was also in San Francisco where she met her husband, Justin, who now handles the finances for Modern Mitzvah and helps Laura run their wholesale division and partnership program. The couple married in Napa Valley in 2016 – the same year Laura converted to Judaism.
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“Neither of my parents are Jewish, but my stepfather is, so I was raised in a Jewish home. I enjoyed growing up learning about Jewish values, celebrating the Jewish holidays, and observing many of the Jewish traditions,” says Laura. “I had been saying I wanted to convert since I was 11 but didn’t make it official until right before I got married. I wanted to be Jewish when I stood under the chuppah.”
The idea to start an online Judaica shop happened as a result of Laura and Justin attending Jewish Baby University together. This program, offered by the Bureau of Jewish Education, offers helpful parenting classes to expectant Jewish and interfaith couples.
“Our class had just learned about the various Jewish blessings and special celebrations to welcome a new baby, including the very sweet idea of hanging up a ‘baby ketubah’ or a baby naming certificate in a nursery,” Laura recalls. “One of my friends in the class asked if I could create one for her…Soon several more friends were asking for baby naming certificates, then for home blessings, and I decided to start a small online shop.”
“Laura customized the perfect baby naming certificate for my daughter to help celebrate her Hebrew name and its meaning,” says Megan Zweig, also of Scottsdale. “She provided such creative ideas and worked with me to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art that will always be something very special to our family.”
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Laura explains on her Modern Mitzvah website that a baby ketubah or baby naming certificate is a new-age tradition. Although not a contract, these certificates are similar to a ketubah in that they are signed by the parents and Rabbi and are displayed afterward in the home as a memory of the special event – be it a bris or a Hebrew baby naming ceremony. She has also designed a special line of personalized bar and bat mitzvah certificates that have become popular gifts to give among the teen set.
For wedding couples, Laura created a product line, “Blessings for the Home,” that can be sent as special Judaica wedding gifts. She designed three different styles of Blessings for the Home: a bright and colorful Pomegranate Blessing, a Leafy Star of David Blessing, and a Botanical Blessing. She has plans to offer wedding ketubahs in the near future.
Most recently, Laura has designed a line of customizable holiday photo cards for people who wish to send family photos and greetings this holiday season. With greetings like “Happy Holidays,” “Happy Everything,” and “Fa La La La Latke,” these cards are versatile enough for all different types of families and faiths.
All of Modern Mitzvah’s customized Judaica certificates and home blessings are designed in Laura’s home office, printed on thick, top-quality paper, and then placed in a beautiful glass picture frame. Receiving and unwrapping a Modern Mitzvah gift has become an exciting treat for all ages.
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“There are so many products geared toward Christian holidays that I wanted to carve out a special space specifically for Jewish and interfaith celebrations,” says Laura. “I strive to create unique and modern designs, one-of-a-kind keepsakes for special events, and spread a little joy through beautiful art.”
For more information about Modern Mitzvah, visit shopmodernmitzvah.com.