Kids get an early start on holiday shopping, no parents needed

Samantha, 6, shopped for presents for her family and ultimately settled on a stuffed animal for her little sister. Photo by Jared Foretek

It’s Sunday afternoon and people are flooding into one of the classrooms at Temple Rodef Shalom. Religious school is done for the day and it’s as good a time as any to get a jump on holiday shopping.

Undeterred by the crowds, the shoppers wander from table to table as they search for the perfect pair of earrings, book or stuffed animal. And like any seasoned shopper, they have a budget in mind.

Think of it as Lord & Taylor on Black Friday, but everyone is much shorter. Here, the shoppers are between the ages of 2 and 13.

It’s Judy’s Place, an annual event at the Reform synagogue in Falls Church, where kids can buy gifts for all the people on their lists. Mom and Dad aren’t allowed.

The way it works is simple: parents tell the volunteers from the sisterhood that runs the shop what the budget is. And if the young shoppers need help, the women can guide them through the bazaar,
helping them stay within budget while keeping the presents literally and figuratively under wraps.
When siblings Avery, 7, and Jonah, 5, picked up presents for their family, Avery went for a stylish hat for
her mom.

“She loves picking out hats and wearing them,” Avery said. “She has lots of hats.”

Jonah, meanwhile, bought a necklace for his sister and some Redskins paraphernalia for his uncle and aunt, though he wanted to clarify that he, himself, is no fan of the Burgundy and Gold.

“I don’t like the Redskins,” he said. “I like the Eagles.”

Judy’s Place has been a synagogue tradition for 30 years. Temple member Judy Goldstein set up the kids Chanukah bazaar in the 1980s. When she died in 1997, the sisterhood renamed it Judy’s Place in her memory.
“The children can come in here and give tzedekah back to their families,” says Bernice Porrazzo, a sisterhood volunteer. “They buy for not themselves, but they buy for their sister, their brother, their pets, their grandparents, their mother, their father. And they feel good inside. That’s the whole idea.” n

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