Meet, shop and eat at East Bay Chanukah shuk

It might be too soon to resurrect the blue-and-white decorations and scrape last year’s wax off that menorah, but it’s never too early to shop ’til you drop for Chanukah.

Four East Bay synagogues will host the first Oakland/Piedmont Jewish Community Chanukah Shuk on Nov. 14, featuring more than 30 local Jewish artists selling their handmade items.

Participating synagogues are: Orthodox Beth Jacob Congre-gation, Conservative Temple Beth Abraham and Reform Temple Sinai, all in Oakland; and Kehilla Community Synagogue, a Jewish Renewal congregation in Piedmont.

Professional artist Alexandra Feinstein will be selling her handmade dreidels at the Chanukah shuk.

The Chanukah shuk marks the first time the four East Bay synagogues will join together for an event of this nature.

“We’re a very diverse group, religiously,” said co-organizer Bonnie Burt, referring to the synagogues’ denominations. “We wanted to reach out to as many people as we could and by joining forces, it goes beyond what you can buy. It’s a communal event.”

At least eight artists from each of the four synagogues will set up shop inside Temple Beth Abraham, selling everything from jewelry and paintings, to Judaica and bound books. Other offerings include cards, hair accessories, drawings and collages. 

Inspired in part by the concept of a farmer’s market — buying local goods and knowing the purveyors — the shuk will give shoppers an opportunity to meet the Jewish artists on the spot.

“This event addresses the desire to shop locally in this troubled, outsourced economy,” Burt said. “Everything is handmade by the artists represented.”

For shopping sustenance, the Women of Temple Beth Abraham will host a free latke tasting, with samples of gourmet latkes that can be pre-ordered frozen for Chanukah.

Additional food vendors are Grand Bakery, the first and only kosher bakery in Oakland, and Amba, Oakland’s popular Middle Eastern kosher, vegetarian eatery.

In essence, the Chanukah shuk is an extension of Beth Abraham’s virtual shuk, which features links to artists from the congregation whose specialties range from bookbinding to sewing to making tallits, mezuzahs and jewelry.

Other East Bay congregations showed an interest in the online gift shop and wanted to know how to start their own.

“It became clear that while each synagogue doing something would be nice,” Burt said, “it would be much more powerful if we worked together.”

To gather merchants, a representative from every participating synagogue spread the word about the Chanukah shuk. That translated to more than 30 artists.     

“People are very jazzed,” Burt said. “Many have told me they can’t wait for it. Having people from the East Bay Jewish community who don’t always come together will be really fun.”

Oakland/Piedmont Jewish Community Chanukah Shuk is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 14 at Temple Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. For more information, contact David Marinoff at hoshie@pacbell.net.