Chanukah gift bazaars a holiday tradition

Shoppers peruse the goods at the Temple Rodef Shalom Chanukah bazaar on Sunday. Photos courtesy of Temple Rodef Shalom.

No matter the holiday greeting you like to use, you’re probably already searching for gifts. In Northern Virginia, synagogues are breaking out their inventory for Chanukah bazaars and boutiques.

The wares range from local to global, with everything from Chanukah slippers to picture frames made from hockey sticks.

Temple Rodef Shalom

At Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, the Dec. 3 and 10 Chanukah bazaar has a decidedly international flavor. Shellie Abel, who runs the synagogue’s gift shop, was among the delegation to the NY NOW gift fair in New York City. There, the buyers stocked up on specialty goods from a collection of vendors.

“There’s a special little section down in what we call the ghetto of Jewish vendors because it’s in the basement,” Abel said. “But we scout the whole rest of the Javits Center. It’s three days of shopping.”
They’ve got Judaica from around the world, including kippot knitted by Ugandan Jews, paper goods and Shabbat candles from South Africa, and more kippot from a village in Guatemala. Of course, there will be Israeli goods. And the bazaar will have a fair trade section guaranteeing that the craftspeople were paid a fair wage for their work.

The congregation has also restocked popular items from the gift shop. Abel said acrylic menorahs with LED lights and Chanukah slippers — blue and white with a yellow trim — have been especially popular. The bazaar will also feature popular name brand Judaica lines, like Gary Rosenthal and Michael Aram.
About 40 percent of the bazaar’s profits will go to temple programs and the rest will be donated to other Jewish nonprofits, Abel said.

Congregation Beth Emeth

At Congregation Beth Emeth in Herndon, some of the offerings at the Dec. 3 Chanukah bazaar will be as local as they come. One congregant will be hawking homemade jewelry and glassware. The mother of another congregant, a photographer, will be selling prints. And a teacher at Beth Emeth’s religious school is selling decorated stick-on fingernails.

Beth Emeth is also offering shoppers a chance to get a jump on Passover, selling seder plates and matzah covers. Ellyn Hirsch says there’s plenty for this kids too — dreidels, of course — but also children’s Chanukah socks and bibs.

Congregation Etz Hayim

Congregation Etz Hayim in Arlington brings in local vendors for their annual Artist Expo and Craft Fair Dec. 3. Lita Miller said that about 90 percent of the 25 vendors who will be selling are from the Washington area. The congregation works with local arts organizations like Arlington for the Arts and Art Alliance to bring in artisans looking for exposure. But they also scoured the internet for some of their most interesting finds.

“I also search Etsy for anyone who’s in Northern Virginia or D.C.,” Miller said.

It was there that she found a Northern Virginia man who makes clocks, benches and picture frames from recycled hockey sticks.

The expo also will feature a woman who makes colorful jewelry from gift cards she’s heated, bent and cut.

“This is nondenominational,” Miller said. “It’s for our neighborhood as well as the synagogue, and our neighborhood is not necessarily Jewish.”

That said, Etz Hayim will have its share of Jewish wares. One vendor will be selling Israeli dates and olive oil. The congregation charges a table fee that goes into its general fund, but the vendors keep whatever they make from sales.

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