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It's a Nail Art Miracle! Rabbi Launches Hanukkah Nail Decals

Last November we were introduced to the now 26-year-old Rabbi Yael Buechler, who made headlines for her (yeah, we'll make this joke again) unorthodox way of teaching the Torah to her students. In a program called "Midrash Manicures," she has her students come up with nail art to illustrate their understanding of certain stories and teachings. It's been a runaway success at the Jewish day school where she teaches in suburban New York, and she's since expanded: She is now selling Hanukkah-themed nail art decals for those of us who may find drawing a menorah on our pinkie a bit challenging.

Last November we were introduced to the now 26-year-old Rabbi

What gave you the idea to do the decals? I was sharing many photos of my nails on Facebook and on the website, and around Passover time when I shared photos of my 10 plagues manicure, many fans were commenting in a funny way, "Where can I buy these?" It occurred to me that not everyone can do intricate nail designs and that not everyone is ambidextrous so why not find a way to make Jewish manicures more accessible?

Was it hard figuring out how to produce them? They certainly didn't teach me this when I was studying to be a rabbi! The process took several months to find an appropriate producer (we use one in California) learning what goes into producing a product. It was a huge learning experience. We launched a line officially for the high holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We had little whales for the book of Jonah and apples and honey and it was such a popular launch. I knew Hanukkah was going to be big, but I did not expect it to be this big. We are selling our supply very quickly.

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Will you do this every year for the holidays? We hope to keep them coming. We will have Passover stickers--we're planning on a plague for each fingernail.

Where do the profits on the decals go? Are they donated somewhere? The profits are currently just paying for the production of more decals.

Do you hope to make it profitable? Right now it's just for fun and to make it more accessible to people. I do workshops with synagogues and camps and with women's groups to continue to spread the message. With the curriculum and the decals, the idea behind "Midrash Manicures" is about making religion more hands-on and creative. Many of my fans would like me to have a line of decals for each of the Torah portions but there are way too many at this point.

Have you seen any backlash to your method? I do know that some women express concerns about the promotion of beauty products but I talk about "Midrash Manicures" as specifically a meaningful Jewish manicure. When the girls are painting their manicures it's not about a manicure for perfection but for about their understanding of what they're learning.

Anything else we should know about the decals? A major part of Hanukkah is publicizing the miracle of the oil lasting for eight nights--the rabbis wrote about this idea of publicizing the miracle back in the sixth century. This is a very modern way of continuing to publicize the miracle by having these metallic decals on your nails!