Passover is a community effort at Esther’s Place!

Posted on April 1, 2019 by

A blog post by JMM Office Manager and Shop Assistant Jessica Konigsberg. For more posts from Jessica, click HERE.


This year, Passover shopping has been going strong at JMM’s Esther’s Place since February, with visitors inquiring about gifts and Judaica well before Passover merchandise officially graced the Shop floor. Passover is the holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in ancient Egypt and is celebrated this year from April 19 to April 27.

At Esther’s Place, helping visitors find the perfect gift (whether for a loved one, or themselves!) is one of our favorite things to do. Our staff and volunteers are passionate about engaging with visitors and figuring out exactly what each person needs and how we can help. Esther’s Place staff take note of special requests and feedback and make sure it informs our purchasing decisions year to year. Our efforts are the collective result of input and creativity from volunteers and staff, requests and ideas from visitors, and valued relationships with vendors old and new.

Last year, we learned our visitors wanted more options for Haggadah (the Passover Seder text), particularly for younger readers. In response, we expanded our selection to appeal to a range of ages, Seder styles, and price points. Our selection this year includes the 30minute Seder (an affordable option with bright, engaging illustrations), My Very Own Haggadah (for younger readers), popular choice The (unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah, and A Family Haggadah II: A Seder Service for All Ages. We also tried the Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel by Jordan B. Gorfinkel and Erez Zadok and have already sold the copies we ordered!

We were also delighted to pursue the recommendation of our resident book advisor—volunteer docent Howard Davidov—who recommended a cookbook with year-round and Passover-styled recipes featuring the culinary star of the Seder table: matzo (unleavened bread). Find tasty-looking recipes for matzo nachos, matzo pizza, and more in Matzo: 35 Recipes for Passover and All Year Long. (Howard also recommends perennial Esther’s Place favorite Did Jew Know!)

We also received a call from an old vendor, Cookie & Nudge Books, with a recommendation to offer the new book Gracie’s Passover Surprise—a gorgeous, color-filled paperback about forging new traditions while honoring old ones. Don’t forget to grab a few Gracie and Max-themed coloring pages when you purchase your copy.

In addition to helping visitors select Haggadot, it has been our pleasure to recommend Passover toys and games to inspire both fun and learning. And did you know that six of our popular “Macca Bean” soft toys are specialty themed to celebrate Passover? We have Muttzah, Gefilte, and Maroar to name a few.

The beautiful thing about holiday shopping at Esther’s Place is that visitors need not feel restricted to holiday items. We have many meaningful products that capture the essence of a tradition or story. For example, we have many children’s books that speak to Passover themes of freedom, redemption, and beginnings. Thank you to a recent visitor for reminding me how widely our books’ themes can apply!

Additionally, visitors can add creative flair to their Seder tables this Passover by exploring our tableware and finding the perfect bowl for horseradish or tray for matzo. Thank you to the Shop volunteers for helping me think creatively about what qualifies as Passover Judaica!

Esther’s Place volunteers have made enormous contributions in celebrating Passover in the Shop this year from suggesting creative ways to merchandise tableware items, to re-imagining our children’s section to highlight imagination and fun, to helping every Seder plate put its best (figurative) foot forward and shine alongside complementary Kiddush cups, candlesticks, saltwater bowls and more. Thank you Rachel, Maxine, Seth, and Laraine!

When visitors ask about or comment on our buying process I often tell them that we have “a lot of fun” doing it. This is true of course, but the real fun occurs when we have the chance to share the work with our community of visitors and benefit from their valuable feedback.

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