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Judaica and books

“We’re a Jewish lifestyle store,” explains Chaim Mahgel-Friedman, the new owner of Judaica store Afikomen. Based in Berkeley, Afikomen carries a wide variety of books, jewelry, artwork and Judaic objects. For Rosh Chodesh the store has poetry readings, called “New Moon Illuminations,” where customers get to hear reading from authors and musicians, such as the Octopretzel folk group.

Housed inside the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael and staffed by volunteers, the Women of Rodef Sholom/Sisterhood Gift Shop offers every amenity needed to stock a Jewish home. Due to the large amount of traffic that the store receives, the Women of Rodef Sholom have been able to fulfill the Sisterhood’s Chai Circle $10,000-per-year commitment to Rodef Sholom’s general fund. Many of the companies that the gift store features are certified as fair trade to allow shoppers to support clean business practices.

You can find Dayenu in another JCC — the JCC of San Francisco. Dayenu’s book collection is expansive and has something on all facets of the Jewish faith. “We are the only Judaica store in the city, so we try our very best to be the right Judaica store for everybody. We have a wide variety of Judaica ranging from secular to ultra-Orthodox,” says Eva-Lynne Leibman, co-owner of Dayenu. Adds co-owner Hiroko Nogami-Rosen, “We try to make it a one-stop shopping kind of store.”

Nurit Sabadosh calls her store “almost like a museum.” Alef Bet Judaica in Los Gatos, which opened its doors 16 years ago, features many Israeli artists and a wide range of books from religious texts to Jewish history, children’s books and cookbooks. “Customers will be treated with excellent service, and we welcome special orders,” Sabadosh says.

In second place were the Contemporary Jewish Museum Gift Shop in San Francisco, the Oasis at Beth Jacob Congregation in Oakland, Aaron’s Jewish Book Service in San Francisco, Miriam’s Well in Foster City and the Congregation Beth Ami Judaica Gift Shop in Santa Rosa.

First Place

San Francisco

Dayenu

(415) 563-6563

www.dayenu.com

East Bay

Afikomen

Berkeley

(510) 655-1977

www.afikomen.com

South Bay/Peninsula

Alef Bet Judaica

Los Gatos

(408) 370-1818

www.alefbetjudaica.com

North Bay

Women of Rodef Sholom/Sisterhood Gift Shop

Osher Marin JCC

San Rafael

(415) 444-8098

www.marinjcc.org

Second Place

San Francisco

Aaron’s Jewish Book Service

(415) 752-1952

Contemporary Jewish Museum Gift Shop

(415) 655-7888

www.thecjm.org

East Bay

The Oasis

Beth Jacob Congregation

Oakland

(510) 482-1147

www.bethjacoboakland.org

South Bay/Peninsula

Miriam’s Well

Foster City

(650) 341-4400

www.miriams-well.com

North Bay

Congregation Beth Ami Judaica Gift Shop

Santa Rosa

(707) 360-3000

www.bethamisr.org

 

Childrens’s gift store

Nishan Shepard prides his Oakland-based store, Rockridge Kids, on its safe, non-toxic products. Family owned, Rockridge Kids only sells products that must “be socially responsible, have superior quality and are safe for kids,” Shepard says.

Though j. readers may know Rockridge best for its extensive book collection, Shepard also carries musical instruments, and there is a play space in the store for kids and parents to relax. “We set the bar very high for customer service, and don’t sell war toys, Barbie or popular TV shows,” Shepard says. “We only carry things that we would give to our kids.”

In Corte Madera, customers flock to A Child’s Delight for more than the free gift wrapping. One of the store’s most popular items right now is the Star Wars comic book series, as well as Slip ‘n’ Slides and water guns to help beat the North Bay heat. Deborah and Jonathan Meyer started the store in 1994, and are expanding throughout the Bay Area. The store features products from many local companies, as well.

With two San Francisco stores — in Noe Valley and Presidio Heights — The Ark is a popular choice among j. readers. Though one of their specialities is Waldorf-inspired wooden toys, their extensive book collection has attracted families to The Ark for over 10 years. Customers can attend story time on Sundays at the Presidio Heights location to get a taste for what The Ark has on its shelves.

Los Altos residents and the South Bay community have been enjoying Linden Tree Children’s Recordings and Books since it opened its doors in 1984. For the summer months Linden Tree stays open for Thursday farmers’ markets, and families are encouraged to help the community by donating a book at special reading events. “There is a strong sense of community at Linden Tree, and we strive to provide programming and products that enrich reading and learning,” says co-owner Dennis Ronberg, who runs the store with his wife, Linda.

Just for Fun and Scribbledoodles in San Francisco, The Ark in Berkeley and Cheeky Monkey Toys in Menlo Park came in second.

First Place

San Francisco

The Ark

Various locations

www.thearktoys.com

East Bay

Rockridge Kids

Oakland

(510) 601-5437

www.rockridgekidsstore.com

South Bay/Peninsula

Linden Tree Children’s Recordings and Books

Los Altos

(800) 949-3313

www.lindentreebooks.com

North Bay

A Child’s Delight

Corte Madera

(415) 945-9221

www.achildsdelight.com

Second Place

San Francisco

Just for Fun and Scribbledoodles

(415) 285-4068

www.justforfun.invitations.com

East Bay

The Ark

Berkeley

(510) 849-1930

www.thearktoys.com

South Bay/Peninsula

Cheeky Monkey Toys

Menlo Park

(650) 328-7975

www.cheekymonkeytoys.com

 

Gift store

If you are looking for an exotic gift from any corner of the planet, Folk Art Gallery in San Rafael is likely to have it. Owner Sharon Christovich hand picks traditional items from various cultures around the world. Unique pieces include Retablos, “picture boxes” from Peru, and beaded figures from Zulu women in South Africa. “My store is not a tourist or airport art store — these pieces are traditional to their culture, hand crafted by artists whose work I personally check for quality,” Christovich says.

Serving the East Bay community since 1993, Pelago in Oakland stocks up on unique gifts for every occasion. Owners Bill Fidrych and Mark Wallaer started Pelago as a wholesale company in 1991, importing items from Indonesia. Famous for their German glass bowls and affordable fare, customers can rely on Pelago to have something for everyone on their list.

Though the installations at the Contemporary Jewish Museum are not for sale, visitors can take a piece of the experience home with them at the museum store. Customers can choose from the extensive collection of contemporary Judaica, jewelry, kid’s products and exhibition-related merchandise. Some of the best-selling pieces are the Yo Semite T-shirt, Yiddish magnetic poetry and Star of David Super Balls.

From pottery to garden amenities, Pot-Pourri in Burlingame has a full range of gifts and other home decor. Since the mid-’60s owners Andy and Julia Diez  have had a passion for pottery, and now have two large galleries in the Bay Area. Pot-Pourri started out featuring local ceramic artists, and now strives to find one-of-a-kind American artists that specialize in multiple mediums.

Gump’s in San Francisco, The Gardener in Berkeley, Folio in Larkspur  and Edwards Luggage in San Mateo and Palo Alto came in second.

First Place

San Francisco

Contemporary Jewish Museum Gift Shop

(415) 655-7800

www.thecjm.org

East Bay

Pelago

Oakland

(510) 339-7090

South Bay/Peninsula

Pot-Pourri

Burlingame

(650) 343-3200

www.pot-pourri.com

North Bay

Folk Art Gallery

San Rafael

(415) 925-9096

www.thefolkartgallery.com

Second Place

San Francisco

Gump’s

(800) 882-8055

www.gumps.co

East Bay

The Gardener

Berkeley

(510) 548-4545

www.thegardener.com

South Bay/Peninsula

Edwards Luggage

Various locations

(888) 390-4011

www.edwardsluggage.com

North Bay

Folio

Larkspur

(415) 461-0120

www.folioinvites.com