By Deena Levenstein
I’m dizzy from the delicious fragrance emanating from a business card sitting by my computer. You can read about Perfuniq, the business behind the card below, but let’s get started. I’m going to tell you about five wonderful stores I visited in downtown Jerusalem this week, and equally as important, about the owners behind the establishments.
The Book Gallery
Probably the largest second hand shop in Israel, the Book Gallery is shockingly bigger than it seems at first. The co-founder and owner, Moshe Bar, told me about the intentions and functions of the store. For example, they receive libraries and sort them and make sure the books end up in places where they’ll be used. They also ensure that important books are preserved.
The Book Gallery has been around for almost 20 years and they pride themselves on their workers, all people who understand and love books. Books in many languages are available but their main languages are English, Hebrew, French and German.
My recommendation: Make sure to see the entire layout of the store before perusing the books. That means going in, down the stairs and around to the back of the basement. And then just when you think you’ve seen the entire store, walk through the doorway at the end and go “wow” as you find a whole other room with hundreds, if not thousands, more books.
Location: 6 Shatz Street
Fellow Canadians, Shmarya and Lainie Richler, are one of the three couples I met that day who work together on their downtown businesses. Their vision was to offer good Montreal-style bagels and do something fun together. They’ve been around for a year (mazel tov!) and offer high quality muffins, shakes, bagels and more. Their food contains no additives and no hydrogenated fat. They offer many vegan options.
My recommendation: Try the chocolate peanut butter shake. It is sweetened with dates and made with cocoa powder and sugar-free peanut butter. It’s delicious!
Location: 16 Ben Yehuda Street
Cadim – Ceramics Gallery
Cadim is a potters’ cooperative. Founded in 1987, there are always works of 15 artists on display in the shop which is situated in the quaint neighborhood Nachalat Shiva. Next to each set of items is a sign with the name of the artist, a photo and a bio.
Point being, souvenirs from Jerusalem no longer need to be wooden camels and Star of David necklaces. Although the bigger items might be difficult to ship across the world, there are many smaller options like mugs and dishes that could make great mementos of Jerusalem’s contemporary creativity.
There are actually a few cooperative art and design shops downtown besides Cadim. For example, immediately across from Cadim is another ceramic cooperative called Altogether 8.
My recommendation: Talk to whoever is sitting there – it’s always one of the 15 ceramicists and it’s interesting hearing about their work first-hand.
Location: 4 Yoel Moshe Salomon Street
Adi Greenstein – Jewelry Studio
This little jewelry studio was started around 10 years ago by Adi Greenstein, a graduate of the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem. Her husband Alon has since joined in the business and together they create their dream of having a space that offers unique creations and learning opportunities. Adi’s jewelry is fresh with a distinct Israeli touch and the couple teach metalsmithing right there in the shop. They are proud of the little oasis they’ve created in the city center.
My recommendation: Don’t worry if there is a class going on when you arrive. Adi and Alon are friendly and welcoming and it’s fun to see a class in action.
Location: 23 Hillel Street (entrance from the Bianki alleyway)
Perfuniq – My Own Perfume
Perfuniq is the latest talk of the town. Visionary Shahar Schwartz and his lovely wife Gaya are thrilled and somewhat pleasantly surprised by the buzz their new store has caused. But how could it not? This tiny shop is the place in Jerusalem to have perfume made with your name on it. Literally. Shahar passionately explains all about types of fragrances and how they match different personalities. Based on people’s characteristics he concocts perfumes that are unique to each customer – no one else will be allowed to order your perfume.
I am still getting whiffs of the business card that is a mix of the smells I sensed when I entered the store earlier this week.
My recommendation: Go in if only to smell the store and meet Shahar and Gaya.
Location: 24 Ben Sira Street
And my general recommendation
Don’t just stop at the shops I’ve mentioned here. They’re only examples of the creativity happening in Jerusalem and beyond. Enjoy!
Photos by Deena Levenstein
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