Just in time for Hanukkah, we are gifting you with the magic of not just nail art, but religious nail art with a deeper spiritual meaning.
Rabbi Yael Buechler started painting her own nails, like most of us, at the confused teenage age of 16, but unlike most of us, she packed a deep religious punch behind her designs.
While nail art has been on the fashion forefront for a majority of the last two years, with a market saturated with items to help achieve a perfect nail design, Rabbi Yael has been doing her manicures the same way since her teenage years: with toothpicks.
Now, a decade after dabbling into her own Torah related designs, the Rabbi is using her nail art as a means to teach young girls the lessons of the Torah, and the lessons of awesome nail design, in addition to launching her very first line of nail decals modeled after the Ten Plagues.
Check out our exclusive interview with the Rabbi below.
Tell us a little about your background and why you were drawn to not just manicures, but religious ones.
I grew up going to Jewish day school on Long Island and wanted to find ways to make my own Jewish learning more meaningful to me, outside of the classroom. I always loved painting my nails, and tying my nails to Jewish holidays and biblical themes seemed like a natural extension of my love for nail art and Judaism.
You started doing your own manicures when you were 16, meanwhile nail art has just seen a emergence in the mainstream in the past 2 years. When few people were wearing nail art, what inspired you to start?
I started to paint my own nail art when I was in middle school, having been inspired by my middle school social studies teacher, Mrs. Goldstein, who received weekly manicures at the local nail salon. Mrs. Goldstein explained to me how colors were popular in certain seasons, from maroon shades for the fall and white shades for the spring. I started to paint my nails each week with seasonal colors and then began to paint more intricate manicures for holidays and other Jewish themes. Back in the '90s, since nail art was not yet a fad, I had to find my own ways to paint nail designs. I laugh thinking about the fact that I painted my earliest nail art designs by opening up a paperclip to use it as a paintbrush. A few months into the paperclip method, I discovered that flat wooden toothpicks served as a better (and less-sharp) nail art tool, and I continue to use them for my designs to this day.
When did the idea to produce nail decals come about?
The idea to start a line of Jewish nail decals came about last spring when I posted photos on my website, MidrashManicures.com, of my manicures for the Ten Plagues. Fans were emailing me and posting on Facebook, “Where can I buy these?” I realized that there was a demand for Jewish nail art and that I now had opportunity to find a way to produce Jewish nail art in an educational and meaningful fashion. Midrash Manicures officially launched a line of stick-on Jewish nail decals for the High Holidays and we now have our newest line for Hanukkah available in Judaica shops, beauty salons, and on our website (midrashmanicures.com/decals). As a rabbi I felt that it was important for each set of nail decals to come with an accompanying holiday quiz as well as other educational information about the holidays.
You teach your students to do Torah related manicures. What is the most precious manicure moment you have shared with them?
I think one of the most precious teaching moments occurred for me when I was teaching students about the story of Noah’s Ark. It was the beginning of the semester of the Midrash Manicures class, and students were not yet entirely comfortable with painting their own intricate manicures. As some of the middle school students struggled to paint their very first nail art designs, one of my students said to me: “I tried to make a picture of the animals going to by two, but since it didn’t work out, I’m going to explain that this is what happened when the flood waters filled the earth.” For me, this was a meaningful moment as I witnessed how one student was able to creatively apply new biblical meaning into what could have been considered a mess-of-a-manicure.
What are some of the brands that you frequent to obtain the perfect manicure?
Sally Hansen donated polish for the first Midrash Manicures class that I taught for middle school students. I tend to use Sally Hansen’s Xtreme Wear Nail Polish as it is affordable and it has a wide variety of bright colors. This past fall, when I found it difficult to find browns for the Shofar and Noah’s Ark, I was happy to discover fabulous browns by Brucci and Revlon. I paint all of my nail art in an old-fashion way, using flat toothpicks to paint all of my designs. I haven’t tried any of the new nail pens yet, because I am so used to toothpicks serving as my paintbrushes.
What was your favorite nail design of all time?
My favorite nail design of all time is my manicure for the Ten Plagues. After all, that’s clearly why God gave us ten fingers! Each year, I enjoy coming up with new ways to creatively depict the ten plagues. Stay tuned for the Ten Plagues Nail Decals!
Polishing aside, what regimen do you recommend for polish lovers to keep their nails healthy?
To keep your nails the strongest, I recommend weekly trimming and filing. I find that anytime I let my fingernails grow out for a few weeks without regularly trimming them, they become more brittle. I find that so long as my fingernails are well-polished, they will stay strong and fabulous.
Be sure to keep up with Midrash Manicures on their website.