Mill Valley, meet Brooklyn — a new, boutique-style Judaica shop and gathering place for Jews, all in one.
A project of Chabad of Mill Valley, Brooklyn welcomes anyone who walks through its doors, Rabbi Hillel Scop says.
Inside the tastefully designed space is a wide range of offerings, including original art, fine tableware, silver candelabras, cozy throws and much more. There’s even a coffee bar.
Scop estimates that some 80 people attended the grand opening in October, and in the short time since, the store has drawn an assortment of visitors. Brooklyn’s location in the heart of Mill Valley, across the street from the popular Depot Cafe and Bookstore and the town square, is ideal for drawing foot traffic.
“The amount of interest it has been generating has been amazing,” Scop says.
From the outside looking in, Brooklyn appears as a stylish home decor shop, with a beautifully decorated table prominently displayed up front. Walk inside, and you’ll find lots more, including standard fare such as yarmulkes, prayer shawls, challah covers and prayerbooks.
Opened just in time for Hanukkah, there’s a plethora of holiday items: golden candles, menorahs, dreidels, olive oils, candies and lots of gift items — especially for kids. Many are not typically found in other retail shops.
Scop calls Brooklyn a “boutique” Judaica store. “Judaica is more than blue, white and silver,” he says. “There’s a whole palette of things we can do.”
Some people have walked in simply because they were intrigued by the name Brooklyn — home of Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters. And once they are inside and meet Scop or his wife, Chana, the co-directors of Chabad of Mill Valley, visitors sometimes want to learn more about Chabad and Judaism, Scop reports. “For us, it’s a great opportunity to meet more people and tell them what Chabad is doing in Mill Valley,” he says.
Finding a place large enough for public events — such as the menorah lighting and Hanukkah party at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, or ongoing activities like the Hebrew reading class for kids and Scop’s Torah/Talmud study class — has long been a dream. Until now, activities were scattershot. Some were held in the Scops’ Mill Valley home, others rotated among the homes of Chabad followers. Business networking events periodically took place in San Rafael, while large public gatherings like last year’s Hanukkah celebration were held at a Mill Valley hotel.
“This is an opportunity to create more of a community and bring people together,” Scop says.
A grant last summer from a donor allowed Chabad to pursue the expansion.
At first, the Scops weren’t even thinking in terms of opening a store. They just wanted a larger place to hold activities. But as they searched for sites, Scop says, agents would ask, “What’s your retail option?”
That got them thinking in a different direction.
Chana Scop was an indispensable partner in the entire process, her husband notes. “I have the dream and she knows how to turn the dream into reality, She definitely has the artistic flare.” The rebbetzin is also a skilled cook and baker, leading well-attended workshops such as challah making and braiding. She has a blog, chanasartroom.com, and a website, allinmysparetime.com.
The couple has 10 children, ranging in age from 6 months to 20 years.
Brooklyn has already hosted one of Chana’s workshops, a “Jewish Business Cafe” and a Nov. 28 Lunch and Learn class.
“It’s not just a store,” says Scop. “It’s a place for people to gather and learn and grow.”
The Scops are already thinking of expanding “as we see what the needs are and what people are interested in,” the rabbi says. One idea being contemplated is a “Mommy and Me” program.
“We want it to be a place that people can really feel welcoming and community,” Scop says. “That’s what everybody is looking for — a place to feel comfortable and not be judged.”