They Kicked Me Out of The Judaica Shop



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.



Deborah Kolben

Deborah Kolben is Editorial Director/Founding Editor of Kveller. She formerly covered education, crime, and real estate at the New York Daily News and The New York Sun before becoming  the city editor of The New York Sun and the managing editor of  the Village Voice.  She has also written for The New York TimesFinancial TimesThe Forward, and Jerusalem Report. She received a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and received an Arthur F. Burns fellowship to report in Germany. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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