Grab that canvas bag and get going — Hanukkah is just around the corner!
Gift options this year are all over the map — from an elegant pewter and enamel pomegranate menorah to a “Happy Hanukkah” guest towel. How about a Lego dreidel or hand-crocheted and beaded kippot? You can even find tiny foil-wrapped chocolate Maccabee soldiers.
Nell and Rabbi Chaim Maghel-Friedman, at Afikomen Judaica in Berkeley, are especially pleased with their selection of hand-cast pewter and enamel menorahs from Quest Collections in New York City. One decorated with pomegranates sells for $265. On the other end of the spectrum, they carry a chalkboard menorah for children, from DCI Gifts, priced under $23.
For “someone whose spirit is stirred by the ever-changing phases of the moon,” the shop carries Moon Angel Cards ($36) from Rebekah Erev, a Bay Area artist and ordained kohenet, or priestess. The hamsa teething toy ($15), from Little Standout, will start the little ones out on the right path.
Those are just “a few highlights” from their seasonal offerings, says Chaim, adding that “we also are well stocked with fair trade gelt from Divine Chocolate, candles from Safed Candles in Israel and dreidels from the simple to the spectacular.”
The shop will hold its annual Hanukkah party with a public menorah lighting at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 7, with music by Melita Silberstein and Isaac Zones.
At Alef Bet Judaica in Los Gatos, Nurit Sabadosh is excited about the new “Spot It! Shalom” game ($13.95) for families, which tests players’ knowledge of Jewish traditions. The game is made by S.F.-based Blue Orange Games.
“We also have a very nice traveling menorah — a fun gift for teens — made by an artist in Israel,” Sabadosh says. For younger kids, Lego offers dreidel kits in different colors ($9.99). And for the little ones, new board books are available in a range of prices.
At the Contemporary Jewish Museum gift shop in San Francisco, “lots of marvelous things designed by both local and international artisans,” such as a beautiful tie-dye dreidel and elegant pomegranate dreidel, plus “wonderful cookbooks and children’s books and games” are available, says store director Kevin Grenon.
Two menorahs rate special mention. One, from Roost, a Bay Area design collective, has a “sleek yet simple midcentury design” with brass candleholders on an Indian rosewood base ($90). The handmade Spike the Dog Menorah ($195) is “folk art with an urban twist.”
Recipes for fusion dishes influenced by cuisines from the Middle East to the Far East fill the pages of “Nopi,” a new cookbook by celebrity chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, the head chef at the London restaurant Nopi.
For much younger readers, there’s Palo Alto author Caryn Yacowitz’s book “I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel” ($17.99), described as a “hilarious take on the world’s greatest works of art.”
The gift store Dayenu, located in the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, specializes in jewelry, books and religious items made by local and Israeli artists. “We have all different kinds of menorahs, some made from recycled materials, that range from $18 to a couple hundred dollars,” says shop owner Hiroko Rosen.
She notes that tree-shaped menorahs are popular, and another of her favorites features two baby elephants. Made in South Africa from beads and wire, the menorah costs $55. For kids, a mechanical dreidel is one of Rosen’s bestsellers this year. It comes in three styles, including a stacking dreidel with five layers ($5.50).
New books include “Hanukkah’s Surprise” and “What Pet Should I Get,” by the venerable Dr. Seuss. Even Mad Libs gives a nod to the holiday, with a family-fun version for Hanukkah ($3.99). “We also have a lot of toys for under $10, such as floor puzzles, temporary tattoos, wooden bead sets, harmonicas, craft items and kazoos,” Rosen says.
And Dayenu is a source for the chocolate Maccabee soldiers, just 49 cents each.
If you prefer shopping online — and want to support a cause — consider Fair Trade Judaica, a locally based business owned by Ilana Schatz. “I am a gardener, and with all the Jewish farming and gardening programs going on, I have designed a farming and gardening menorah,” Schatz says. “It has birds and bees on it, and I call it The Pollinator.” It’s priced at $50, plus shipping.
Another of Schatz’s favorite new items is a glass night light ($20). “These are made from recycled glass and painted by hand in Ecuador, and we have four different styles – a dove, Noah’s ark, a flower and a spiral.” Crocheted and beaded kippot made in Guatemala ($40) come in more than half a dozen colors and six different designs.
Everything on the site is fair trade, which “connects consumers in the West with producers from other countries, by emphasizing fair value return, environmental protection, human and workers’ rights.”
Hanukkah gifts at the Standard 5 and 10 Ace Hardware Store in San Francisco include menorahs, candles, dreidels, gelt, decorations and Hanukkah gift wrap, says Michelle Leopold, marketing maven and the “mom” at the mom-and-pop store in Laurel Village.
Offerings range from the practical — a cheese-shaped cutting board ($33.99), with storage space for three kinds of cheese knives, to fun gifts for kids, including “a selection of Green Toys, made from recycled milk cartons,” Leopold says. “One of the owners [of Green Toys] is Laurie Hyman, from Kentfield.” Choose from a toddler stacker toy ($14.99), a tea set ($27.99) or a tool set ($27.99).
A pretty “Happy Hanukkah” guest towel ($7.99) is one of the Judaica-themed gift items at Stan’s Kitchen, the main store’s new housewares annex.
Just For Fun, the gift shop and custom card printer in Noe Valley, also offers a selection of Hanukkah gear — menorahs, candles, chocolates and cards. Owner David Eiland also points to his selection of dreidels, including spring-loaded jumping dreidels and a dreidel launcher.
While no specialized Judaica shops are in operation in the North Bay, most synagogues in the region (as well as others throughout the Bay Area) offer candles, hanukkiahs and other Hanukkah items for sale in gift shops or at holiday bazaars.
Afikomen Judaica, 3042 Claremont Ave, Berkeley; (510) 655-1977 or www.afikomen.com
Alef Bet Judaica, 14103 Winchester Blvd., Los Gatos, (408) 370-1818 or www.alefbetjudaica.com
Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F. (415) 655-7800 or www.thecjm.org
Dayenu, 3220 California St., S.F. (415) 563-6563 or www.dayenu.com
Fair Trade Judaica, www.fairtradejudaica.org
Standard 5 and 10 Ace Hardware, 3545 California St., S.F. (415) 751-5767 or www.standard5n10.com
Just For Fun, 3982 24th St., S.F. (415) 285-4068 or www.justforfun.invitations.com