By Tammy Mark
Keep calm and “Kara Na” – that’s both the motto and the advice of Michal Weinstein, local business owner and community influencer. While Weinstein typically spends her days and many nights dedicated to planning the most creative events for the happiest of occasions, she spends her own time and resources coordinating fundraising campaigns for causes that are close to her heart. The current “Kara Na” campaign is what’s keeping her calm and busy during these unprecedented times.
As the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the subsequent lockdown began, Weinstein realized she’d be sitting tight for a while. Never one to be idle, she got to work the best way she knew how. “I own a party planning business on Central Avenue called Events 360 that has been at a standstill. Thankfully, as a graphic designer, I can still do work from home on my computer.”
Weinstein shares how she developed the Kara Na concept. “When the coronavirus broke out and the reality began to sink in that not only will we be stuck home for weeks and possibly months, but most of my business, which caters to events, will be on hold. I needed to put my energy, time, skills and anxieties into something meaningful. It started with an image I designed that I called “Kara Na” which means “call out” in Hebrew.”
Weinstein’s crown image relates to the “corona” crown-like shape associated with the virus. Relying on her expertise at creating unique logos for every type of event and theme, Weinstein elevated the imagery to represent inspirational Judaic concepts. Weinstein previously had tremendous success with an image she had created after the murder of Ari Fuld. She subsequently spearheaded a campaign called “Lion of Zion” which raised over 40K for his family and his causes, and was hoping this design could become another fundraising vehicle.
“Because I have an established nonprofit, Couture for a Cause, and years of experience creating fundraisers at breakneck speed, I delved right in.” The positive responses to the image and the words of encouragement on Weinstein’s social media posts inspired her to develop a line of products with the crown imagery, including t-shirts, sanitizers and bumper magnets. Weinstein soon connected with a jewelry company “The Honest Jeweler” and created the Kara Na line with uplifting quotes in both Hebrew and Englishsuch as “This too shall pass” featuring engraved customized bracelets, necklaces and keychains. Weinstein later designed decorative acrylic plaques with the blessings for challah baking and candle lighting as well.
As Weinstein was contemplating which organization to dedicate the proceeds to and how to best disburse the funds, she received a message from Gabe Boxer, aka the Kosher Guru, on behalf of the Leon Mayer Fund. Boxer had been volunteering with the fund for many years, helping distribute food and provide other resources to community families in need. As the pandemic hit hard in March, the organization’s annual Passover drive was more vital than ever, and Boxer reached out to Weinstein to see if she would be able to help promote or support the Fund in any way. A lifelong resident of the Five Towns, Weinstein is familiar with the various needs of the community.
“When Gabe called me it was perfect timing and the right fit. I know what it feels like to be financially affected by tragedy. My heart bleeds for those who cannot buy food because they no longer have an income, which is why I chose to focus my fundraising on The Leon Mayer Fund — a community organization that has been helping families for close to 30 years.” To date the Kara Na campaign has raised over $7k towards the fund and is still going strong.
“I am also selling high quality Kara Na washable masks with filters. The original masks feature a repeat pattern of the Kara Na logo in the shape of a Magen David. The Kara Na logo represents unity, G-d and prayer.” Weinstein also offers a bit of lightness with her vibrant butterfly design mask that is constantly selling out. “You can never go wrong with butterflies!”
“Another fundraiser I spearheaded was the Lawn Sign Initiative to help buy masks for frontline healthcare workers by selling signs that say “Thank you for being out there so we can be safe in here.” That was thankfully a big success as well. So I am keeping myself very busy during this quarantine — and hopefully helping to make a difference in people’s lives.”
If you haven’t already spotted the images and the masks around town as you navigate your essential errands, you likely will soon. Weinstein recently added several new mask designs as the safety protocols continue indefinitely. In addition to the original Kara Na and butterfly designs, there are now a variety of limited edition rainbow colored masks.
Though keeping busy and upbeat, Weinstein has her concerns. “I’m worried for me, my family and friends. I am a big news addict and spend a lot of time reading everything and making my own judgements as to what is true or false. I am also sharing news with my followers on Instagram who appreciate my take.”
Weinstein was struck by how hard the Five Towns has been affected by the virus. “Sadly, people did not take it seriously at the start, which I believe is the reason we had one of the highest rates in Nassau. Purim did not help either. I do think most of us are staying put and behaving. It has had a tremendous impact on us and is probably the first time in its history that everyone was home for Pesach.”
Weinstein looks forward to everyone being able to get back to work and resuming social gatherings. Though Events 360 has been at a standstill, things are beginning to look up as people are starting to plan for the future; some planning events for the year 2021, while some are working with the limitations and trying to make the most of it during the current situation. Weinstein is now tapping into her ingenuity more than ever as her team endeavors to create magical moments for even the smallest gatherings.
“Stay optimistic,” advises Weinstein. “This too shall pass! Stop pointing fingers. Stay home, but at the same time stay educated. At some point this will need to end and it’s important to know the facts and not feel overly afraid because the media wants you to be. Most importantly, Kara Na…turn to G-d.”
For more information on how to donate, visit www.coutureforacauseny.com/karana or @mlwdesignny on Instagram