The High Holy Days offer a chance to partake in a spiritual experience with all of our senses, unencumbered by the daily flow of life. From the sound of the shofar to the taste of apples and honey and the sight of pure white on our Torah covers and clothing, these Days of Awe, which begin on Sunday, September 16, with Erev Rosh Hashanah, evoke a lifetime of memories while affording each of us the chance for reflection, repentance and renewal.
To get started on the journey toward the High Holy Days, Orange County Jewish Life offers a poem by Daniel Harris, executive director, Hillel Foundation of Orange County, and a story about Judaica. For listings of synagogue services, please see our website: www.ocjewishlife.com.
for the High Holidays,
Every person should view himself all year as if he were half innocent and half guilty.
— Moses Maimonides, Mishneh Torah
You place a hedge around a hedge –
yourself in the spot you left,
where portals open and clear
the way – listen with ears
for eyes to names
of past loss, emptied
into ills and awe –
and heard litanies for incipits
poised like watchmen –
black letters of lungs,
lucent as ardent, in the book –
and soon you can hear the uncanny
with your hands – its writ
to burrow in, to stir without
restraint and purge a casting
pitch of iniquity.
— Daniel Y. Harris
High Holy Day
Erev Rosh Hashanah
Erev Yom Kippur
Wednesday, September 26
Sukkot Day 2
A Different Kind
of Gift Shop
Many of Orange County’s synagogues have gift shops. At this time of year they get a lot of foot traffic. People want to buy greeting cards, honey pots, prayer books, kippot and tallitot. They might want items for themselves or gifts for other people.
Temple Beth Emet in Anaheim used to have one of the biggest synagogue gift shops in Orange County, replete with Judaica, books and other items. When the building was sold to another institution, and the synagogue needed to vacate some of the rooms it had occupied, the more recent iteration of the gift shop had no home. Some enterprising Sisterhood women had other plans.
“We wanted a gift shop and didn’t have much space, so we decided to share space with the library,” explained Lynda Wheeler, buyer and chairperson of the Temple Beth Emet Sisterhood Gift Shop. “It’s a Judaica shop and gift shop. There are Jewish items and other gifts, like jewelry, hats, shoes and dog toys. There are also donated items.”
The women who run the gift shop – including Wheeler, Sisterhood President Gail Shapiro and volunteers Harriette Millman and Aurelia Kvetny – have multiple objectives for the gift shop. They want to raise money for the congregation, but they want to make the gift shop affordable and accessible at the same time.
“The suggested retail price in some gift shops is double or triple what an item costs, because people are motivated to support the congregation,” Wheeler said. “We have less expensive items than some of the other gift shops, and we have markdowns.”
Shapiro said that the greeting cards in the shop are “the least expensive in the county. There are all-occasion cards and holiday cards for under a dollar.”
The Temple Beth Emet Sisterhood Gift Shop is willing to special-order items from catalogs if people ask for them. There are gifts by Israeli and local artists and everything in between, items procured online and at gift shows and books from fiction to reference. Fascinator hats (with head bands and flowers) and Aerosole shoes round out the offerings.
The Sisterhood women hope to attract people from all over the county to the gift shop, but, primarily, they hope to serve the locals with fun, useful and affordable gifts. They even wear what they sell – such as handmade yarn necklaces – to demonstrate their enthusiasm.
The gift shop is open during Ezra Center and event hours on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, by appointment and available to be opened by the office staff.
“Everybody wants this gift shop to be successful,” Shapiro concluded.