When I walk into a Judaica store, I feel just as if I were a kid walking into a candy store.
So much to see, so much to look at! I am enchanted by all the colors and shapes of the dreidles, the Chanukah menorahs and the mezuzahs in the Judaica store. A lot of pieces immediately evoke a wonderful nostalgia in me; suddenly I am back in my grandparents’ homes! A familiar-looking silver wine cup awakens in me a deep longing to be that child, who I once was, sitting around the Sabbath table, listening to my father recite the Kiddush—the blessing of the wine.
But, my fascination with the Judaica store does not end here with mere nostalgia. There are so many new and beautiful ritual pieces and Judaic art that didn’t exist years ago: traditional and modern, colorful or monochromatic and elegant or humorous. The Judaica store, today, is filled with Judaic objects made of paper, plastic, wood, ceramic, glass, stone, silver, brass, aluminum –you name the material-- it is there.
Another thing that I really admire and enjoy is the innovation that I find in so much of the work that I see in my local Judaica store. Maybe, it intrigues me so because of the memories and associations I have with the more traditional pieces that were part of my childhood. The new Judaic art pieces embraces, acknowledges and gives homage to the old form, but at the same time, it breathes new life into a very traditional art form and renews the ritual object and makes relevant the ritual.
Recently, I was in Jerusalem in the Judaica store/gallery of artist, Danny Azoulay. Although, I was familiar with his incredibly beautiful paper cut ketubahs, I hadn’t realized that he also makes amazing hand painted ceramic Judaica. There was a perfect combination of traditional and contemporary elements in his pieces for me. I especially loved his colorful dreidles with sterling silver pieces.
Whenever I hit a new city I try to find a Judaica store to explore. It feels little like home and a little like new territory to explore.