Sharon Tal, lead designer for Maskit, Israel’s iconic luxury fashion house, will be the guest speaker at the Ignition! 2018, the signature annual event of the Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix.

“I am honored to visit your city and I would love to see all the ladies at our event,” Tal said in an interview from Israel.

The March 20 event will honor a number of women in the local Jewish community for their “service in the community,” according to Bari Kanefsky, the event’s co-chair, who is herself an honoree. She will receive the Rising Star Award. The other honorees include Julee Landau Shahon, who will receive the Golda Meir Award, and Benée Hilton-Spiegel, who will receive the Gerda Weissmann Klein & Kurt Klein Award.

“I’m honored to be a part of this growing Jewish community and hoping to get some more of the younger generation involved in the good work that the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix does for the community,” Kanefsky said.

Alison Feinberg will receive the Spirit of Jeannette Continuing Service Award for her work as an active volunteer with Jewish Federation over the last 12 years. She serves on the board of Camp Ramah in California — a Jewish summer camp associated with the Conservative movement — volunteers at Congregation Or Tzion and is on a number of committees for the Valley of the Sun JCC. On the secular side, she serves as the PTO president for Sonoran Sky Elementary School.

Kanefsky, who co-chairs the event with her mother-in-law, Shari Kanefsky, said she was excited to be honored and was looking forward to meeting Tal and hearing her speak.

Tal will discuss the history of Maskit from its establishment in 1954 by Ruth Dayan through its 1994 bankruptcy, and its successful recent revival by Tal and Dayan. Maskit is a Hebrew word that means an ornament, or something small and beautiful.

Tal will also talk about her own career as a female fashion entrepreneur, in addition to providing a peek behind the scenes of Maskit’s current operations. After the talk, there will be a tr1111nk show where guests can see items from the Maskit line.

Tal studied at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel and interned with Lanvin, a prominent French fashion company where she worked with Moroccan-Israeli fashion designer Alber Elbaz. After graduating, she relocated to London to work as the head of embroidery for Alexander McQueen, a British luxury fashion house.

Although Tal said she loved the work, three years of England’s rainy weather had her missing the sunny warmth of Israel. While pregnant, she went home to Tel Aviv for a visit and decided to stay and give birth there.

Not long after her return, Tal watched Kate Middleton and Prince William’s wedding and paid close attention to Middleton’s dress, which was designed by Alexander McQueen. Inspired, Tal started researching the history of Israeli fashion and learning more about Dayan and Maskit.

Maskit was one of young Israel’s earliest social entrepreneurship ventures. Dayan, who was once married to the late Israeli military leader and politician Moshe Dayan, created Maskit to provide job opportunities for immigrants, utilizing their skills in a range of crafts and fields. The company went on to global success, eventually operating 10 stores throughout Israel and even one in New York, in addition to their products being featured in a range of high-end retailers across the world.

Tal contacted Dayan and scheduled an hour-long meeting that ended up lasting nearly an entire day. After that, Tal said she couldn’t think of anything more inspiring than reviving Maskit. For more than a year, the pair worked to revive the brand, contacting many former Maskit workers and designers and documenting the storied brand’s history and product lines. In 2013, they revived the company and it has been growing ever since.

Tal said she’s keeping very busy these days with the opening of Maskit’s visitor center in Israel and working on a new home design gift collection.

“Maskit was very famous [for] its desert coats and designers were inspired by the communities in the south of Israel [to create] iconic light coats and jackets, which brought them into Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and more,” Tal said. “We have recently launched this collection again in the U.S.” JN

To attend Ignition! 2018, RSVP by March 13 at jewishphoenix.regfox.com/ignition-2018 or by calling 480-481-1752.

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