July 29, 2017
By: Mallory Schlau, Honeymoon Israel New York City participant on a October 2016 trip

After an amazing two weeks on Honeymoon Israel, I returned home to a country about to elect the next president. Two days after the election - feeling both dismayed and energized - I was looking for a way to focus my energies and resources towards something positive and inspiring. At the time, I was working as the Senior Fashion Editor of Harper's Bazaar and surrounded by an industry full of strong female voices. Later that week, at a cocktail party for a new designer, I was talking with some friends who also work in the fashion industry. We were hashing out our frustrations over the election when it hit me: a giving circle!

I first learned about giving circles during our Honeymoon Israel trip a few weeks prior. While in Israel, we participated in a pop-up giving circle with Keren Baktana. I found the experience to be an effective way of contributing to charities, but even more importantly, an impactful way of increasing dialogue and discussion. Debating the merits of good causes has a way of making you more thoughtful about giving back to the community than simply writing a check. It is a participatory charitable activity, as opposed to just monetary contribution.

We named our giving circle, Friends in Fashion and our mission statement is: "women encouraging other women to contribute to a more compassionate society." Our goal is to foster a healthy discussion over giving to charities that focus on supporting women and girls throughout the world, while also creating a positive and enjoyable networking environment. We were lucky enough to partner with ABC Home and Carpet for our first meeting. We started small with a soft launch meeting over croissants and coffee. That day we raised $1,300 for Women for Afghan Women, a New York based grassroots organization concerned with human rights and women's rights in Afghanistan.

Most recently, we held our second meeting, also at ABC Home and Carpet. For our second meeting, we had a 30 person happy hour (cocktails generously provided by Hella Cocktail, Eddie Simeon’s, a fellow Honeymoon Israel NYC participant, company). Over delicious margaritas, the group mingled and we led a discussion about the three nonprofits that were up for a vote that day. One of our group members had introduced us to Too Young to Wed, which ended up being the winning organization after a majority vote. It was a healthy debate and a close vote; we have a soft rule that the runner-up organization will always be on the table for the next meeting. We still have donations coming in for our second event, but we've raised approximately $1,500 so far.

I am proud of what Friends in Fashion has already become. It was inspired by my experiences on Honeymoon Israel and fueled by positive energy to counter frustrations at home. We have plans to partner with a major American design house in the fall and are hoping to raise more money and, equally important, raise more involvement and awareness.

It's been a fulfilling experience to bring a small piece of my experience in Israel - and tikkun olam ('repairing the world') - back to my NYC home.

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