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Dec 1 2010

They Kicked Me Out of The Judaica Shop

By at 4:33 pm

Emergency materials for making a menorah

I sometimes have a moment, an incident, that reminds me all over again why we started Kveller.

And, I just had one.

It occurred to me this afternoon–yes, just hours before Hanukkah–that we don’t have a menorah at home. Or rather, we have one buried in a box so deep in our basement that it’s like not having one at all.

My daughter can’t celebrate her first festival of lights with no light.

So, just now, in the pouring rain and whipping winds, I ventured out into midtown. Our office is right near the Empire State Building, but unfortunately there are no guys hawking  “I ♥ NY” menorahs on nearby streets.

I went to a local Judaica shop, J. Levine Judaica a few blocks away.  I closed my umbrella, walked into the old store, and was reaching out my hand to pick up some Hanukkah candles when a man suddenly appeared and asked me to leave. Actually he said, “We’re praying, can you wait outside?”

Wait outside?

My immediate reaction was confusion. Maybe embarrassment. Had I done something wrong? I agreed to wait outside, until a few seconds later when I had sense knocked back into me. No, I’m not going to wait outside. In the rain. This is a store. Not a synagogue. Sorry that I’m a woman. Take that, cultural relativism.

So, I stopped at the local CVS to see if they had anything to offer aside from Reindeer headbands and Christmas wrapping paper. On the second floor nestled in between black haircare products and the dental floss display, they have stuffed dreidels and a mini menorah that looks like it would topple and set your house on fire.

Last resort? The hardware store. I ended up buying a paint stick, nine bolts, and some epoxy glue. So, my little Mika, this menorah is for you. It’s not the prettiest, but it was made with determination and love.

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10 Responses to They Kicked Me Out of The Judaica Shop

  1. Danny says:

    My name is Danny Levine and I am the 4th generation owner of J Levine Judaica, the store that your blogger claimed “Kicked her out”. If that is true, we deeply apologize for this terrible action. We have been in NYC since 1905 and we pride ourselves in welcoming everyone into our store. You can be Black or White, Gay or Straight, Orthodox or Reform, Interfaith or even transexual, you will be welcome at the world’s Oldest Judaica store J Levine Judaica. We have the largest selection of Jewish Marriage Ketubot (Charlotte from Sex in the City got her Ketubah from J Levine!), and an amazing choice of Talits, Kippas, Menorahs, Mezuzahs, seder plates and Juaica book! What happens at 1:40 Monday to Thursday for the last 26 years is we have a quick 8 minute Orthodox Mincha(afternooon)prayer service.
    In this service, men are kept separate from women. So what the person was supposed to say was for you not to go into the middle of the prayer service. But in no case, is anyone thrown out of our store. If someone said that then he was very wrong and we are very sorry. Everyone is welcome and helped with all their Judaica needs by the warmest staff of people who have worked for J Levine for decades! You can also shop online at

  2. Vicki says:

    I was at a BYOMenorah Hanukkah party last night, and someone had a very similar DIY menorah!
    Great solution!

  3. Saba says:

    Kol Akavod, you see Mika even if it’s rainning, and even if they kick you out from a store, you can still find a way to get what you need, like Ima did.
    Happy Hanukkah.

  4. Batia says:

    What a story! What a Ima!
    You are the best!

  5. Maya says:

    Looks perfect to me!

  6. Jennifer says:

    I used to pass that store on the way to my now-husband’s apartment. They should be ashamed for treating you that way…you are to be commended on your MacGyver-esque menorah.

  7. Helen says:

    You rock. Love the DIY problem solving, not to mention the dedication. J. Levine can suck it.

  8. robyn says:

    I LOVE this story. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Tam says:

    This is PERFECT. I love it.

    Ours was also buried in storage and we had to use the “fancy” one out of the china cabinet – AKA the one I don’t want to use because first I had to find a gas mask to drown the thing in tarnex and in nine days I’m inevitably going to have to bake the damn wax off before I put the precious gift back in the china cabinet. I should have used bolts and a paint stick. Disposable is my kind of menorah!

  10. homeshuling says:

    Are you sure the paint stick won’t catch on fire when the candles burn down? I have made my share of flammable and flimsy menorahs, so I know of which I speak…


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