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Jewish Journal

Quit Staring at My Chest

by Keren Engelberg

October 23, 2003 | 8:00 pm

(From left) Daniella Zax, Nina Bush and Myla Fraser of Rabbi's Daughter.

(From left) Daniella Zax, Nina Bush and Myla Fraser of Rabbi's Daughter.

Sure, your bubbie always said you had a shayna punim, but now there's a T-shirt to help you pronounce it proudly to the world. Recently launched Rabbi's Daughters is one of the latest Los Angeles-based clothing lines to jump on the baby-T bandwagon. But in this case, the ubiquitous tops usually emblazoned with girl-power identifiers such as "flirt," "tomboy," "princess" or "boy toy," get an updated, irreverent Jewish twist. Rabbi's Daughters T-shirts and "wife beater" tank tops are printed with choice Yiddish words and phrases in Hebrew-style graphics, like "Yenta," "Kosher" and "Goy Toy." They're the brainchild of Creative Arts Temple's Rabbi Jerry Cutler's three daughters.

"It came to us probably within a moment," Daniella Zax, the youngest Cutler daughter, told The Journal. "We thought it was a great idea to put our heritage into fun, sexy little T-shirts."

Three months later, the shirts are being plucked off shelves of stores all around Los Angeles, including Fred Segal, Zero Minus Plus and M. Fredric.

But, Zax was quick to note, "It's not just sticking Yiddish words on T-shirts. There's meaning in it for us. It's about our family tradition. We come from people who spoke the language."

Their mother, for one, is a Holocaust survivor who speaks five languages, Yiddish being one of them.

"When we first thought of the idea, my dad was on the phone with us every day going through his Yiddish books with us," Zax said. "Our mom speaks fluent Yiddish, so whenever we have questions she's kind of like our dictionary."

The sisters, all in their 30s, divide duties -- with Zax employing her 10 years as a buyer for a women's boutique to steer them through the ins and outs of the shmatte business. The eldest, Nina Bush, is an architect-turned-stay-at-home mom, while Myla Fraser, the middle sister, does freelance production work for music videos and television. For them this has become a second career, while for Zax, who left her job as a buyer, getting the entire Rabbi's Daughters line into stores is now a full-time gig.

In addition to T-shirts and tanks for women for a double-chai price ($36), the line offers tees for kids and babies in blue, pink, white and gray, with options like "Pisher," "Bubeleh" and "Kvetch" running $28-$30. There are future plans for long-sleeve t-shirts, Zax said, "Our wheels are constantly turning. We're all always thinking about the next step."

Meanwhile, those looking for the perfect Christmas present for their token non-Jewish friends can consider the now available "Shiksa" shirt, while Jewish J-Los can shake it in pricey $18 "Tush" panties.

To see the line, visit www.rabbisdaughters.com .

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