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Best Judaica/Books

It’s the personal touch that really matters when it comes to Judaica and books, shop owners say. “You need to hold it in your hand,” explains Jerry Derblich, longtime owner of Berkeley’s Afikomen.

Derblich, Eva-Lynne Leibman of San Francisco’s Dayenu and Ellen Bob of Palo Alto’s bob and bob were honored by being named top sites for Jewish books and Judaica.

Bob notes her 23 years of bookselling experience and ability to answer questions about the minutest of minute details. Leibman speaks of the huge variety of books co-owner Hiroko Nogami-Rosen stocks at a store many mistakenly think of as simply the JCC of San Francisco’s gift shop.

And Derblich says he can usually put the texts in your hands that day, as he did for a local day school that forgot to purchase copies of the Torah for seven graduating students. “We had them here and we even gift-wrapped them,” he says.

The Oasis at Beth Jacob Congregation won second place in the East Bay, and Alef Bet Judaica was second in the South Bay/Peninsula.

First Place

San Francisco

Dayenu
(415) 563-6563
www.dayenu.com

East Bay

Afikomen
Berkeley
(510) 655-1977
www.afikomen.com

South Bay/Peninsula

bob and bob
Palo Alto
(650) 329-9050
www.bobandbobjudaica.com

Second Place

East Bay

The Oasis
Beth Jacob Congregation
Oakland
(510) 482-1147
www.bethjacoboakland.org

South Bay/Peninsula

Alef Bet Judaica
Los Gatos
(408) 370-1818
www.alefbetjudaica.com

Best Gift Shop

Sometimes, Jews buy gifts that aren’t Judaica.

David Eiland’s Just for Fun topped the best gift shop category for San Francisco. He carries everything he can cram in, from Lincoln Logs to gardening tools.

Oakland’s Pelago was named the top East Bay shop, where co-owner Mark Wallaert stocks glass bowls from Germany, jewelry and nearly anything else. “People know they can pick up a gift for their kid’s teacher for $5, or something for $100 they can take to a wedding,” he says.

Meadowlark Gallery in Corte Madera, which carries the work of more than 400 artisans, took top honors for Marin/Sonoma.

First Place

San Francisco

Just for Fun
(415) 285-4068
www.justforfun.invitations.com

East Bay

Pelago
Oakland
(510) 339-7090

Marin/Sonoma

Meadowlark Gallery
Corte Madera
(415) 924-2210
www.meadowlarkgalleries.com

Best Children’s Gifts

Pinocchio was less than enthralled with being made out of wood. But wooden toys rated highly for some Readers’ Choice voters, who gave the Ark top honors in the East Bay — while others picked Linden Tree Children’s Recordings and Books in the South Bay/Peninsula.

The manager of the Ark in Berkeley, Ash Webb, notes that the vast majority of her toys are fine-crafted wooden trucks, cranes or castles from Germany, though stock hails from as far off as Kyrgyzstan and Romania.

Meanwhile, as discerning readers could probably infer from the full name of Linden Tree in Los Altos, it’s a good place to pick up children’s gifts for the kid who will especially appreciate, well, recordings and books. The store carries books in English, French, German, Chinese and more.

Rockridge Kids came second in the East Bay.

First Place

East Bay

The Ark
Berkeley
(510) 849-1930

South Bay/Peninsula

Linden Tree
Los Altos
(800) 949-3313
http://lindentree.booksense.com

Second Place

East Bay

Rockridge Kids
Oakland
(510) 601-5437

Best Bookstore

Sure, you can buy a copy of “The Da Vinci Code” at almost any bookstore. But bringing it to the store in a garbage bag along with 400 other tomes you hope to sell — you’re probably at Green Apple Books and Music, which took top honors among San Francisco bookstores.

Across the bay, Cody’s Books took the top spot. If you can’t find what you need, manager Michele Tagger notes that “we’ll special order anything.”

When Kepler’s in Menlo Park was about to go under, a group of community activists banded together and got the store back on its feet. “It’s a challenging time for independent booksellers,” says owner Clark Kepler. “But we feel like we have a wonderful community that reads for itself and its children.”

A longtime literary watering hole and frequent stop for traveling authors, Book Passage in Corte Madera, took top honors for Marin/Sonoma.

Stacey’s Bookstore finished second in the city, and Black Oak Books was second in the East Bay.

First Place

San Francisco

Green Apple Books
(415) 387-2272
www.greenapplebooks.com

East Bay

Cody’s Books
Berkeley
(510) 559-9500
www.codysbooks.com

South Bay/Peninsula

Kepler’s
Menlo Park
(650) 324-4321
www.keplers.com

Marin/Sonoma

Book Passage
Corte Madera
(415) 927-0960
www.bookpassage.com

Second Place

San Francisco

Stacey’s Bookstore
(800) 926-6511
www.staceys.com

East Bay

Black Oak Books
Berkeley
(510) 486-0698
www.blackoakbooks.com