Gifts to please even finicky teens and kids

With no shortage of Chanukah gifts in the shops this year, giving something meaningful to the young person in your life should be as easy as spinning a dreidel.

Even if that young person is a teen.

Teenagers can be hard to shop for, and as Ellen Bob, co-owner of bob and bob Fine Jewish Gifts in Palo Alto, admits: “Boys are harder to shop for than girls.”

Bob recommends hipper menorahs ($38 to $100). She’s carrying one especially of interest to teenage boys. It is black and silver (Raiders fans should like this) and can change shapes each night.

She also suggests two books popular with teenage boys.

“Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy” by Jane Leavy ($13.95) is about the life of the former pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Six Days of War” by Michael Oren ($16.95) provides insight into how Israel got to where it is today “without trying to convince anyone of anything,” says Bob.

Eva-Lynne Leibman, co-owner of Dayenu in San Francisco, recommends for teenage boys dog-tag necklaces and key chains with decals such as the chai, peace sign and Star of David. They start at $18.

For teenage girls, Bob suggests patchwork, velvet purses ($15) and hand-painted wooden boxes made in Jerusalem’s Emanu-El studios ($25).

“Kabbalah fashion is in,” says Bob. She recommends silver Kabbalah bracelets interwoven with red string, priced at $15 each.

Popular music can be a safer bet for all teens. Bob recommends “Schlock Rock: Almost on Broadway” ($18.98) and “Mah Tovu” ($16.98) a local folk-rock band.

T-shirts are also practical and popular gifts for teens. Dayenu sells T-shirts with the slogan “100% Kosher beef,” and others with graphics of Jewish cowgirls and cowboys ($25 to $30).

A teen’s first menorah is a gift that could last a lifetime. Dayenu is carrying a line ($13) from artist Tamara Baskin. Alef Bet Judaica in Los Altos recommends a new line of sports menorahs ($75). A family in Oaxaca, Mexico, makes limited-edition Noah’s Ark menorahs ($38) out of painted tin. They are sold at Afikomen in Berkeley.

Jerry Derblich, owner of Afikomen, suggests a good read: “Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial” by Peter W. Schroeder ($17.95 hardcover). The book tells the true story of a teacher in Tennessee who collected 6 million paper clips to help his students conceptualize the Holocaust. Derblich also recommends “Jews Who Rock” by Gary Oseary ($12.95), the story of Jewish rock stars. “Did you know Courtney Love is Jewish?” asks Derblich.

For younger readers, Nurit Sabadosh at Alef Bet Judaica recommends “Hanna’s Suitcase” by Karen Levine ($15.95) and “Hanukah’s Ghost” by Malka Penn ($14.95). For preschoolers, she suggests “It is Chanukah Time” ($12.95).

For the teen who has it all, Bob suggests a tzedakah box with tzedakah in it. Her boxes range from $25 to $150.

Craft kits are all the rage for younger children this year. There are many kinds and all of the Judaica stores are carrying them. Starting at $2.50, craft kits let children make or decorate their own dreidel or menorah. Dayenu carries a kit ($44) in which the child makes a replica of an ancient piece of pottery from ceramic pieces and sand.

“Craft kits are great first-night gifts,” explains Bob. “They are great to keep the kids out of your hair while you’re frying the latkes.”

For kitchy gifts, Dayenu has Chanukah socks for $6.50 and up. Bob recommends collectible dreidels that range from $5 to $100. She is also selling a popular “Bouncing Dreidel” ($2.50). Afikomen stocks the game “Dueling Dreidels” ($8.50). For young children, Derblich recommends the “My Little Dishes” Melamine dinnerware Chanukah set ($15). For children learning Hebrew, Sabadosh suggests a doll that speaks both English and Hebrew ($42.99).

And this season’s best Chanukah gift?

“That is something I don’t sell,” said Bob. “It is the time families spend together. Time is the best gift parents can give.”

Where to shop

The gift items featured on these pages are available at the following local Judaica stores; a number of the selections may be found at several of these shops.

Afikomen Judaica, 3042 Claremont Ave., Berkeley; (510) 655-1977.

Alef Bet Judaica, 14103D Winchester Blvd., Los Gatos; (408) 370-1818.

bob and bob, 151 Forest Ave., Palo Alto; (650) 329-9050.

Dayenu, 3220 California St., S.F.; (415) 563-6563

Many of the items are also sold at local synagogue and Jewish community center gift shops, at bookstores and on Internet sites.