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Local shul gift shops’ unique menorahs


While chanukiot and Chanukah-related gifts are available just about anywhere, including online, you might want to peruse your friendly synagogue gift shop before stepping out of the communal box.

Run by sisterhoods and staffed by volunteers, synagogue gift shops have evolved from a few cards, kipot and card games to a wide selection of Judaica appropriate for all ages, budgets and aesthetic tastes.

“The biggest thing I’m noticing in terms of trends this Chanukah are novelty chanukiot,” says Jan Fisher, who started managing Temple Emanuel’s gift shop in August. “There are menorahs designed in the shape of dogs, cats, Noah’s Ark, even a pink Cadillac,” she says.

Pink Cadillac menorah at BMH-BJ“The juvenile chanukiot are selling briskly, and I’ve already made a note to order more for next year.”

Although Emanuel prides itself on its large inventory of affordable, mid-range menorahs, high-end chanukiot crafted by artisans such as Gary Rosenthal and Tamara Baskin also line tables and shelves.

The temple also carries electric menorahs, which provide added safety to people in nursing homes.

Wooden, crystal, nickel and cop- per dreidels, which are perennial favorites, have morphed into intricately decorated and wildly colorful works of art.

Once plain, thumb-sized spinning objects that were worth their weight in bland chocolate gelt, dreidels are now viable collectors’ items.

Fisher mentions that the Star of David Slinky “is doing very well.” The Star of David what?

“Slinky,” she repeats.

Oh, of course . . .

Jane Kranich, manager of Temple Sinai’s gift store, says that tra- ditional and novelty chanukiot are selling at an equal pace.

The high-end Michael Aram chanukiah collection generates both sighs and sales.

Asked about the shop’s most popular items, Kranich considers. “The sterling silver Sh’ma neck- lace is exquisite,” she says. “The Sh’ma is written in Hebrew inside the squiggly design.”

Wall hamsas — bright evocations of that first trip to Israel — are galloping out the doors.

“We also have a cute tutu with dreidels on it for young girls,” Kranich adds. “Any grandmother would have to get this for her granddaughter.

“And we have beautiful candles — don’t forget the candles.”

ROSEANN Mozer, a volunteer at the BMH-BJ gift shop, says that her customers “do seem to like unusual chanukiot— and we have something to please everyone. There’s a tremendous variety.”

Sports fans have taken a shine to Colorado Rockies and Broncos chanukiah, which are specially ordered for the store.

Taste in Chanukah menorahs range from the utilitarian, playful, childproof variety to those designed by established artists that are almost too elegant to hold a burning candle.

“I think people often purchase high-end chanukiot as wedding gifts,” Mozer says.

Some families place a great deal of sentimental value in their Chanukah menorah, keeping it long past its aesthetic expiration date.

“I receive a lot of calls from people inquiring about a particular kind of menorah,” Mozer says.

“They’ve moved and just can’t find their trusty chanukiah, which has personal significance.

“Others are like, ‘I have had this menorah for 150 years and it’s time for a change.’ ”

BMH-BJ is also selling lots of toys, puzzles and board games to parents, Mozer says.

“This is for parents who want to share more than the hypnotic glow of flame with their children over the holidays.”

Copyright © 2012 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Andrea Jacobs

IJN Senior Writer |

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