Russ & Daughters, Jake Gyllenhaal, a Tie-Dye T-Shirt, and Me

Join me on my journey of purchasing — and waiting for — the internet's most coveted article of clothing.

Yom Kippur is just around the corner, and one of the greatest struggles a Jew deals with yearly is obviously the Yom Kippur fast. We wait 24 hours to then gorge on all the round raisin challah our sensitive stomachs can keep down. It helps us focus on our many, many, many sins (just me?) and truly atone.

But, please, what is a 24-hour fast when you had to wait a month to taste the sweet delights of the Jake Gyllenhaal + Russ & Daughters tie-dye t-shirt?

Let’s rewind to earlier in 5780…

Back in April, Jake Gyllenhaal was doing what all professional actors were doing best in the first days of the pandemic: making stupid content on Instagram. No, it was not as bad as Gal Gadot’s infamous “Imagine” video. It was a workout (?) challenge where strong actors who are paid millions of dollars to get buff for billion-dollar films nominated each other to put a t-shirt on while doing a handstand.

Our beloved mensch, Jake, was nominated by SpiderTwink Tom Holland. He posted his film (Instagram story) in which he is wearing a gorgeous orange tie-dyed Russ & Daughters shirt. Russ and Daughters is an appetizing store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, famous for its $14 lox sandwiches that are absolutely worth every penny. Naturally, while Jake is upside down, the shirt falls down (up?) his stomach. The internet went wild for his Maccabee abs, and then we returned to unfulfilled lives of not going outside. IMPORTANT NOTE: I did some investigative journalism, and the style of Russ and Daughters shirt that Jake was wearing did not exist in their previous Merch collection. This could mean that Jake bought a KNOCKOFF from RedBubble, giving his proceeds to a corporation that steals IP for T-shirts and not to the famous fishery. Or it could just mean that Russ & Daughters had made a special shirt just for him — back in pre-pandemic times, the actor was frequently spotted at the café.

Then, on August 17, a beautiful summer day, Jake Gyllenhaal announced an official collaboration with the esteemed overpriced Jewish establishment. He released the shirt of our dreams, pre-tie-dyed in a stunning salmon for us. Even better? 100% of the shirt’s proceeds went to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, a nonprofit group leading lobbying efforts to save independent restaurants… so, like a mitzvah! Put Jake, Russ, and his daughters in the Book of Life!

The internet went ablaze tenfold; every Jewish mutual I have on Twitter was discussing The Shirt. You could tell the divide between the non-Jews who bought it and the Jews who bought it because the non-Jews proudly announced they had purchased it early on, while all the Jews took an extra 45 minutes to fret if $40 PLUS shipping was too expensive for a t-shirt? Would it go on sale eventually?

I caved after an hour of jeworrying (Jewish + worrying, I just invented that… I’m a content creator). I believe the grand total was $54 after tax and shipping, but I refuse to check my receipt and find out it was possibly more. PLUS 54 divided by 3 is 18… so, like chai!

The good news just kept coming: It was earmarked to arrive within five DAYS! But then panic sunk in: I had five days to do thousands of sit-ups and get a body like Jake to fill out this shirt properly.

Then… tragedy struck.

goldbelly t-shirt delayed

Goldbelly, a website I had literally never heard of until I ordered the shirt and now receive hundreds of emails from a day, reached out to let the congregation know that our shirts were in too much demand and they had to delay the orders to keep up the supply. They gave us the option to opt-out of getting our shirts delivered if we weren’t okay with waiting. PLEASE, Goldbelly, Jews have waited 5780 years for our Messiah to come; we can wait a few weeks for our tie-dye shirts. Unfortunately, I was moving apartments in the time between the original delivery and the newly slated delivery (diaspora much). I frantically emailed Goldbelly and asked them to change the delivery address and praise Gllyenhaashem, they did.

Then came the waiting. If you think eating unleavened bread for eight days is a sacrifice… imagine waiting a month for your bagel-themed shirt. I have never felt closer to the Jewish community of Brooklyn than I did waiting this long month. If I were to have an adult bar mitzvah, I would invite everyone who went through this with me. My giveaway would be a tie-dye Russ and Daughters t-shirt that says, “I waited forever for my $40 shirt with @schlife!”

On Tuesday, September 15, I got antsy. I had been refreshing the FedEx tracking given to me from Goldbelly back in August to no avail. I even have an app that tracks deliveries that gives me a notification if there is a shipping update, and it was lonelier than a Catholic girl waiting for an alert from from her future NJB husband on JSwipe. I impatiently emailed Goldbelly asking for an order update. I’m such a Sarah (Jewish Karen).

follow up email

The Red Sea of my inbox parted and Mike from Goldbelly replied, saying my shirt had shipped that day! I like to think they completely forgot about all of these shirts until my kvetching to their customer support team set off a PANIC in the Goldbelly offices and all the shirts were shipped at once. So yes… I am a hero. You can thank me later!

This story has more twists than a shofar! The next morning I awoke to a notification that my soon-to-be beloved shirt was OUT FOR DELIVERY! I burst into tears! I danced the hora alone in my apartment! I lifted myself up in a chair (I broke my arm, RIP)! I spent the entire morning refreshing my FedEx tracking page and eagerly looked out my front window for the FedEx truck to arrive. I imagine this is what Christian children experience waiting for Santa! I kissed the delivery man on the lips (jk COVID) and RAN upstairs to try on my shirt.

To be honest… it is a little itchy. BUT, it is perfect, and I cannot wait to see a like-minded Jew wearing it on the subway in two calendar years.

Header image design by Emily Burack. Screenshot of Jake Gyllenhaal via Instagram; Russ & Daughters tie-dye t-shirt via Russ & Daughters; background via Getty Images.

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