A year and a half ago, Woodland Hills resident Steve Handelman believed he had a novel idea: merchandise bearing the slogan "Got Peace?"
Before long, the writer got his wife, Trudy Handelman, a medical dental consultant; and his children, Alexandra, 13, and Gabriel, 9, on board. He produced baseball caps, T-shirts, even a plush Holstein cow riffing off of the slogan. But something didn't sit well with Alexandra.
"I noticed how my family made an American hat and a Great Britain hat," she said. "I have close ties to the Jewish faith and I wanted to help Israel."
Enter the "Got Peace?" cap, version 3.0. Based on Alexandra's input, the new cap bears an Israeli flag on front with the slogan "Got Peace?" and a peace sign on back. Unlike the other "Got Peace?" which are for-profit paraphernalia, Alexandra is adamant about forwarding all profits after costs to American Red Magen David for Israel.
"The exciting part is knowing that I'm going to help someone," said Alexandra, a student at Viewpoint School in Calabasas.
The "Got Peace?" concept began with some storytelling Handelman told his children on long drives. One of the fruits of those yarns was a black-and-white cow with a peace symbol-shaped birthmark on its flank.
"I trademarked it, never intending to exploit it," said Handelman, who handed American and British versions of the "Got Peace?" hat to celebrities Shaquille O'Neal, Magic and Cookie Johnson and Macy Gray at a Bel Air party. Handelman knew he was onto something when, a few weeks later, he turned on the TV and saw Will Smith wearing one.
Naturally, Steve Handelman is one proud papa.
"I'm flabbergasted, proud and astonished," Handelman said of his daughter's endeavor. "I'm Jewish, but I've never embraced it as she has."
Alexandra said that she has drawn inspiration from Jewishly connected family members, such as her patriarchal grandmother, Paula, and her mother's sister, Joyce Black, wife of philanthropist Stanley Black.
"The family seders at Stan and Joyce's made all the difference in the world," Handelman said. "She really knew that she was a Jew."
Ultimately, Alexandra believes that the project is just a natural extension of her Jewish identity and values.
"Wherever I go in life, I'm a Jew before I'm anything else first," she said.
For more information on Peace Pals and "Got Peace?" visit www.gotpeace.com or www.peacepals.com .
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