Among the items featured in Buchan’s Judaica section is a set of six hammered liquor cups on a pomegranate branch from Yair Emanuel, for any Shabbat or holiday table. (photo from facebook.com/BuchansKerrisdaleStationery)
If you’re looking for a new menorah or some cool Chanukah gifts over the next few weeks, you’ll want to target your search to three stores that have become the only hotspots for Judaica in the Lower Mainland. Sure, there are items here or there that you can find elsewhere, but not with much selection. And, you can shop online, but the problem with click-and-purchase is you don’t get to hold the weight of an object in your hand, to see the real symmetry of a piece from your screen, how it will fit into your home. Here’s where to go if you’re in the market for Jewish objets d’art.
Buchan’s Kerrisdale Stationery sits right next door to Garden City Bakery in Richmond, the Lower Mainland’s number one challah maker. The store has had a small selection of Judaica for several years but, when Inna Vasilyev took ownership a year ago, she decided to up the ante and significantly increase the variety. Vasilyev, who also owns the original Buchan’s Kerrisdale, on West 41st Avenue in Vancouver, aims to please everyone in her product choices. You’ll find 99 cent Chanukah candy, inexpensive wooden dreidels over which small kids can drizzle candle wax, fancy hand-painted dreidels and the plastic ones that disappear into the corners of a house each year. Buchan’s has Chanukah games, gelt, colouring books, tea towels, napkins with Jewish designs and menorot.
“We have designer pieces by well-known designers and a good selection of candles, too, from simple ones to deluxe ones that burn for ages and smell beautiful,” she said.
Vasilyev also stocks non-Chanukah-related Judaica like mezuzot and candlesticks. For shoppers averse to crossing the bridge into Vancouver (or into Richmond), this accommodating store owner will transfer product between the stores to make life more convenient. She’s in the throes of updating her website and hopes to eventually display all her products on it.
Also in Richmond is one of the Lower Mainland’s longest-lasting synagogue stores, the gift shop at Beth Tikvah. Vicki Northy has been the manager and chief volunteer for the past seven years.
In the hours the office is open, office staff will gladly open the store to shoppers and handle the transactions. Northy buys new products every year, choosing a variety of fun items like bagel spreaders and mensch mugs, functional items like Kiddush cups, candlesticks and challah boards, and Judaica art by well-known artists including Yair Emanuel, Gary Rosenthal, Lily Art, Adi Sidler and Agayof. The store will be open 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Dec. 3 and 10 this year to accommodate Sunday shoppers.
Olive+Wild, the gift and home décor store at 4391 Main St., is quite possibly Vancouver’s only retailer selling Judaica. Owners Simon and Bella Zaidel have 18 different menorah designs in stock right now, ranging from menorot that will get your kids excited about Chanukah to artistic beauties in brass, silver and glass.
“We stock Judaica designs by Nambé, Michael Aram, Yair Emmanuel and Carrol Boyes. And, given the demand, we’ve expanded our collection with various price points to make our products available to all different budgets,” Simon Zaidel said. The store opened last September and the response from the community has been “incredible,” he added. “Since Temple Sholom’s gift store closed down, there’s a limited availability of Judaica in Vancouver,” he noted. “We carry Kiddush cups, Shabbat candles, tzedakah boxes, Havdalah sets, challah covers and boards, kippot, tallises, mezuzahs, hamsas and Judaic jewelry, most of the products made in Israel.”
After the sugar-rush from the combination of Chanukah gelt and sufganiyot has worn off and the aroma of frying latkes is leaving your kitchen, you’ll want to begin “the Great Menorah Cleanup.” If there’s candle wax on your glass surface, it’s a relatively easy job involving a dollar store scraper and a hairdryer to melt any stubborn excess wax. Candle wax on silver candlesticks can be harder to eliminate without scratching your metal. Experts suggest placing your candlestick holder or menorah in the freezer for at least 20 minutes and then using your fingernails to flick off the frozen wax. A cotton ball with silver polish or rubbing alcohol can also be a useful resource to swap the area until it’s clean.
Lauren Kramer, an award-winning writer and editor, lives in Richmond. To read her work online, visit laurenkramer.net.