July 22, 2024
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Maayan Judaica: A Store for the Whole Family

Maayan Judaica’s storefront on West Englewood Avenue.

Amram Elbaz sold a premium mezuzah parchment for a $30 discount to a customer who wanted a nice mezuzah but didn’t understand the higher price tag. “Economically it doesn’t make sense, but for the mitzvah it makes sense.” Such is the attitude of the owner of Maayan Judaica.

Maayan Judaica opened last December in the former location of Weinreb’s Books & Judaica. It sells seforim, tzitzit, tallit bags, mezuzot, kiddush cups, kippot and more. When asked why he decided to open a Judaica store, Elbaz explained: “It’s something that I enjoy, and it’s very rare to find a career that you actually love. When I come home at night and I have a customer that’s happy. Last night, a customer reached out to me. She loves green for her machzorim and siddurim, so I made her a custom cover, totally green … And she texted me last night that she wants to order another set for her daughter, not the same color, something else, and how, between Pesach and Shavuot, she got so many compliments. And I told her, ‘Thank you.’ Sometimes you hear a lot of complaints, and we hear the ‘thank you’ as well.”

The interior of Maayan Judaica.

What makes Maayan unique among Judaica stores? “My number one thing is customer service,” said Elbaz. “That means I’ll go above and beyond for the customers. For example, there’s a shul here. They needed a sefer on mikvaot and it’s out of print. They came to me and said, ‘We need 24 pieces.’ I tracked down the mechaber in Eretz Yisrael. I spoke to him. I got it airshipped. And within less than a week it was here. If you go to a regular store and ask, ‘Can I have this book?’ they’ll tell you, ‘I can’t get it.’” Plus “we have a WhatsApp number that we use for customers all the time.” There is also a website.

And there’s more to look forward to at Maayan Judaica. “We are coming out with different programs after September,” Elbaz noted. “I want to start a raffle, a contest with questions on the parsha in The Jewish Link, sponsored by Maayan. Definitely I want to start a book club. I have a kids’ corner, and I already spoke with different authors to come and do a reading on Sundays for the kids, and we always have coloring pages for them. We already have many families who use the books as a library. They just sit—we have no problem with that—and read … I really want to become part of people’s daily life. And a lot of kids today [use] electronics; this should be a place where they could actually come, be an outing for the family on Sunday—‘Let’s go to Maayan’—you don’t have to buy, just be around the books and new Judaica items.”

A wall of seforim.

As Elbaz mentioned, Maayan has a kids’ section with a bench, Jewish children’s books and a table with crayons for drawing, making the store the perfect destination for a family. Parents can look for seforim and gifts while their children enjoy the kids’ corner.

The store owner’s plans don’t end there: “We’re selling a lot of leather bags for example, for chasanim and bar mitzvah boys. [I want] to make a whole stand … for custom leather bags.

Kids’ corner

“Another thing that I’ve done differently: I had somebody here recently who wanted a gift for an anniversary for a grandfather. And he came up with a great idea, and since then I’ve sold many of them. I call it a ‘nachas tallis.’ It’s basically writing all the kids’ and grandkids’ names inside the lining of a tallis, which is a very original and meaningful gift to give to an older person.”

Elbaz also touched on a hesitancy people may have to shopping in-store, given the increasing prevalence of online shopping: “There is definitely a shift in the past few years to online buying; that’s why we have the website. But at the same time, nothing beats the experience of coming to the store. And most people, when you’re online, you’re only finding [the exact item] you’re looking for.

Mezuzot

“A lot of our sales—and happy sales and happy customers—are people who came in for a siddur and then they saw a sefer that was written by their friends from high school; that’s not something you could have online. So we’re aware of the online competition, but at the same time we don’t feel like we’re competing; it’s a totally different experience.”

Visit Maayan Judaica at 177 West Englewood Ave, Teaneck, and maayanjudaica.com. Their phone number is 201-530-7588.


Daniel Brauner is a summer intern at The Jewish Link. He is an incoming student at Yeshiva University and lives in Teaneck.

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