Readers’ Choice 2016
- Readers’ Choice 2016 | Eat, pray, shop — locally
- Synagogue Life
- Have a Nosh
- Time to Celebrate
- Health, Beauty & Fitness
- Business & Professional
Located inside the JCC of San Francisco, Dayenu offers ritual objects for Shabbat and holidays; items for lifecycle events, including chuppah rentals; gifts made by Israeli and American artists, as well as artists from developing countries; Jewish-themed books; and cellphone rentals for Israel trips.
Metal artist Aimee Golant’s unusual Judaica appeals to people of all faiths, with designs based on her belief that the elements that unite all religions are greater than those that divide. Working in a variety of metals, she also creates custom jewelry and sacred objects for homes and organizations.
Celebrating 25 years, Berkeley’s Afikomen Judaica is a community institution, hosting concerts and special events. Offerings include a large selection of books for adults and kids, art objects by local and Israeli artists, a ketubah gallery and tallit boutique, a kids’ play space and noshables.
Featuring Shabbat candles, Pesach candy, tallitot and original art, the Starr Stevens Judaica Shop at Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame is operated by Sholom Women volunteers and named for two women who grew the shop from a small cabinet to a shopping destination. Proceeds support temple projects.
The gift shop in the lobby of the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael is run by volunteers from Women of Rodef Sholom to support synagogue and Jewish community projects. The shop is committed to increasing its purchases of made-in-Israel merchandise and Fair Trade Judaica.
Dayenu Gifts and Books
JCC of San Francisco
Starr Stevens Judaica Shop
Peninsula Temple Sholom
Congregation Rodef Sholom
Calling itself “the West’s oldest independent bookseller,” Books Inc. is a San Francisco and South Bay favorite, with three stores in the city and several on the Peninsula. Featuring a wide range of books — including children’s selections, cookbooks and Jewish titles — the stores regularly host readings.
In addition to its main store in a pre-1906 building on Clement Street, Green Apple has a second store on Ninth Avenue that hosts frequent literary events and features a large children’s section. Both San Francisco stores sell new and used books, plus gifts, CDs, DVDs and cards.
Taking its name from a Virginia Woolf story, Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley offers a curated selection of contemporary and classic literature, including poetry and works from small presses, children’s and young adult books and garden books. The store hosts more than 150 events annually, including for kids.
North Bay winner Book Passage, which in addition to its Corte Madera store also has a location in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, not only features a wide selection of books, including top-selling fiction and travel guides, it also hosts hundreds of author events, as well as writing and language classes, literary salons and annual conferences.
San Francisco & South Bay/Peninsula
Green Apple Books
Clement Street: (415) 387-2272
Ninth Avenue: (415) 742-5833
The family-owned Ben Shemano Jewelry, a San Francisco winner, buys and sells fine estate jewelry and also specializes in making custom pieces. In a private, secure showroom, founder Ben Shemano guides clients in their selections and can evaluate, sell or repurpose inherited jewelry.
Gallery of Jewels, with three San Francisco stores, was launched in 1990 as a small business by Bill Hoover and Dona Taylor to showcase Ornaments by Dona and several other designers. The business has grown to feature the designs of more than 100 artists, as well as offering custom designs.
Michael Endlich, who views jewelry as an art form, founded Pavé in 1983 to feature his own designs. In two East Bay stores, Pavé has a team of designers and jewelers who also work with clients to create custom pieces. Pavé prides itself on carrying eco-friendly and ethically sourced diamonds and gemstones
Philippa Roberts, who has run a wholesale jewelry business for 20 years, opened a retail jewelry and gift shop in Oakland 10 years ago, featuring jewelry from other designers along with her own creations. Her “signature look,” she writes, “is simple, organic shapes combined with beautifully cut gemstones.”
Since 1944, the family-owned Kerns in Burlingame, now in its third generation, serves clients in the Bay Area and beyond. Kerns specializes in selling and repairing luxury watches and is also a full-service jewelry store, offering contemporary designs as well as estate jewelry and appraisals.
Serving the North Bay for nearly 40 years, Norman Mahan in Mill Valley has been a member of the American Gem Society since 1975. Most of the store’s extensive inventory of fine gold and gemstone jewelry is designed and created in-house. The store also does repairs and bead stringing.
Ben Shemano Jewelry
Gallery of Jewels
Pavé Fine Jewelry Design
Berkeley: (510) 528-7300
Oakland: (510) 547-7000
Philippa Roberts Jewelry
Kerns Fine Jewelry
Norman Mahan Jewelers
An upscale Union Square store since 1988, Arthur Beren also serves clients through its website and catalogs, offering “classically elegant footwear for men and women with an emphasis on a variety of sizes and fabulous fit,” says president David Beren. Brands include Ferragamo, Stuart Weitzman, Cole Haan and Birkenstock.
At Shoes on Solano, with two East Bay locations, “our philosophy has always been that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style or vice-versa,” says CEO and owner Carol Fabretti. The store sells shoes for women and children, including its own brand, SoleTerra Shoes, manufactured in Portugal, and also sells online.
Berkeley’s Walk Shop, an institution since 1978, sells European- and American-made shoes for women and children, with an emphasis on comfort and fit. Staffers work with all types of foot problems, “accommodating orthotics or working around bunions and hammertoes,” says owner Julian Kershaw.
Footwear etc., with nine stores in the South Bay/Peninsula and an online operation, is a family-run business with the motto, “If it’s uncomfortable, we simply don’t sell it.” Styles range from outdoor shoes to slippers and sandals, with selections for men, women and children.
With 22 Northern California stores, seven of them in the North Bay, Sole Desire is a second-generation family-owned business specializing in “stylishly cute and comfortable” footwear and accessories for women, plus men’s shoes in the Santa Rosa and Burlingame stores, says Michele Astobiza, marketing manager.
Shoes on Solano
Berkeley: (510) 525-3832
Oakland: (510) 823-2290
The Walk Shop
Ambassador Toys, with two San Francisco stores and others in Palo Alto and Truckee, focuses on educational books, music and toys “teaching children about the world,” says president Linda Kapnick. “We do not carry any guns or toys of violence.” Brands include Lego, Madame Alexander and Steiff.
Mr. Mopps’ in Berkeley, with a toy shop and book annex, features mostly low-tech toys that “inspire imagination and a surprisingly comprehensive selection of books that celebrate diversity,” says co-owner Devin McDonald. Avoiding mass-marketed products, the store specializes in toys that foster open-ended play.
The 17-year-old Cheeky Monkey in Menlo Park sells “a joyful collection of high-quality, interactive toys to awaken the untamed mind of your child” or “anyone young at heart,” says owner Dexter Chow. Staff favorites on the website include the Bananagrams word game, a mini three-wheel scooter and a loom kit.
A Child’s Delight, the North Bay winner with stores in Corte Madera and San Francisco, sells toys that stimulate creativity and imagination, including arts and crafts selections, construction sets, offerings for active play, toys for babies, video games, and brain teasers and puzzles.
Cheeky Monkey Toys
A Child’s Delight
Ambiance, which opened in the Haight-Ashbury in 1983 and now has four San Francisco stores, offers “cute clothes, stylish options, and great variety and prices,” says owner Donna O’Leary, with items priced from $5 to $450. The focus is on personal service, and the stores offer wardrobe appointments.
Rockridge Rags, an Oakland consignment store since 1981, specializes in gently used contemporary clothing and accessories for men and women. The store “gives consigners a chance to earn money for their unused clothes” and buyers a chance to pick up bargains, according to the website.
Cambric, a midlevel boutique in Los Altos, according to a Yelp review, is “a small, charming place, with contemporary clothing and accessories,” carrying clothes that are “classy but stylish” as well as “attractive jewelry.” It specializes in casual as well as dressy tops, pants and dresses.
New Threads, an upscale women’s store in Corte Madera, specializes in clothing made in America. Favorite styles include cashmere wraps, delicate necklaces made from recycled rubber and jackets that transition from casual to dressy.