If there’s anything I’ve learned from flipping back and forth between coasts, it’s that the local Judaica shop is a good reflection of what kind of Jews you’ll find there. I’m not just talking about the comparison between Crown Heights and Flatbush and their respective Rebbe pictures. (By the way, you can definitely find pictures of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Flatbush, just not staring at you from all sides. Just when you think you’re innocently perusing a book in Crown Heights, BAM! a Rebbe picture disguised as a bookmark jumps out at you, making you feel all guilty about flipping the pages looking for references to masturbation or some other juicy material like that).
What I’m actually referring to can be explained only by the telling of my first Judaica shop visit here in the San Francisco Bay. After my new husband tried desperately to convince me that the transition from New York would be a smooth one by trotting me past a very small kosher market (one of only two in the area, and FIFTY miles from the next one), he took me to what was supposed to be the crown jewel of Judaica stores. I walked in to see (no joke here) a transvestite at the register and mostly only vaguely Jewish items like the holy sefer “How to Raise a Jewish Dog”, interspersed with just a few legit ritual items. I begrudgingly purchased a washing cup from the tranny, shut myself up in the car, and sobbed my eyes out, howling that I wanted to go back to New York. NOW.
I won’t go into the fact that the words “Jewish Community Center” actually translates to “place to sit in the shvitz with nothing but Chinese women”, or how my husband understandably mistook a benscher from twin brothers’ bar mitzvah as coming from a gay Jewish wedding. Let’s just say that it was a rough transition indeed. The only way to truly avoid the horror is to order discount Judaica online. How else am I going to get those heavyweight velvet challah covers in plastic that work so well to put out smoke alarms when the need arises? Or a silver Kiddush cup without a rainbow electroplate finish?