At neighborhood shops, thrift with a Jewish twist


BP photo by Eva Suissa

Hand-me-down: Vintage coats and Judaica for sale at the Council Thrift Shop on Fairfax. The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) operates the shop, along with others, and uses proceeds to fund social justice projects.

By Eva Suissa, Staff  Writer

Walk into the Council Thrift Shop on Fairfax Avenue and you’ll see studded belts, colorful coats and blue jeans. But unlike the average thrift store, you’ll also see menorahs and dreidels.

This is because the Council Thrift Shop is run by a Jewish organization, the National Council of Jewish Women, and serves a Jewish neighborhood – ours, to be exact.

Like other thrift stores in the area — including Helping Hand, Jet Rag, and the Community Thrift Store — its purpose is to help low-income families nearby.

“Inspired by Jewish values, the NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families,” states the group’s website.

They accomplish this goal in their eight thrift shops by selling donated clothes and other necessities at low prices. At their location on Fairfax, the price of their clothes ranges from $7 to $30.

For everyday customers, the thrift shop’s Jewish affiliation doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

“For me it’s the same – Jewish, Catholic, Hindu,” said a customer named Francesco May 24. Francesco said he’s been thrift shopping for five years. What matters to him is if he can find what he wants.

But it does affect the merchandise.BP Photo by Eva Suissa

thrift22In a corner next to the furniture, there is a table piled with Jewish items — a diorama the size of a forearm picturing bearded rabbis singing and dancing. A miniature Torah protected by a metallic paper box that reads “Genuine Eitz Haim.” A set of rusted gold Shabbat candles with shot-glass sized cups to hold the oil. The list goes on.

Salesperson Gloria Gucmin is Christian, but feels comfortable working in this Jewish environment.

 “I’m happy to know that there’s a community helping others —  something you don’t see in other communities,” said Ms. Gucmin.

Some Shalhevet students shop in second-hand stores.  Sophomores Maia Zelka and Maya Schechter have been thrift shopping since the eighth grade.

Maia Zelka started thrift shopping because she didn’t have enough of her own money to buy clothes at more expensive stores.

Maya Schechter also got into it because of the affordable prices, but she also “wanted to feel hipster,” she said.

Both girls like “Helping Hand,” also on Fairfax, which has a shelf of chumashim in the back of the store and closes early on Fridays so the owners, Moji and Ben Nik, can observe Shabbat.

“It was cool knowing I’m helping the local Jews in our neighborhood,” said Maia.

She added that there were different kinds of reasons to shop there.

“I go because I enjoy the experience of finding good deals, but they go because they don’t have a choice,” said Maia.