In the Gift Shop

The Gift Shop carries beautiful items to give as Bar/Bat Mitzvah gifts, Wedding gifts, Hostess gifts, etc., and of course, cards!
Whatever you need, we’re here for you.

Feed your Jewish soul
Come shop with us – and support WRS at the same time!

We are located in the lobby of the Osher Marin JCC

After Labor Day Hours:
Monday – Thursday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Fridays 11:30 – 2:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Phone Number (415) 444-8098

Call for Service:
This Gift Shop is in need of volunteers.  We all want the Gift Shop to be open as much as possible for our convenience.  Did you know that it is staffed entirely by volunteers?  Do you have 3 hours to give to this valuable service?
Please contact Ingrid Tolson



Cleaning Up Around the Holidays

Cleaning Your Tallit

Aaron Howard may have the best answer to cleaning a tallit. Here then, is my slightly modified version.

Yes, tallitot need to be cleaned – perhaps, not as much as in Houston, Howard advises, where we know davening during most of the year brings on schvitzing – but it’s a nice and dignified thing to do in Marin – dry cleaning not schvitzing.

A joke: Mr. Goldberg needs his tallit cleaned. So he sends it to the neighborhood dry cleaner, which happens to be owned by a non-Jewish Chinese family. They tell him to come back in three days. When he returns, they give him the bill, which comes to $50.00.
“Fifty dollars to clean my tallit?” says Mr. Goldberg, astonished.
“No, no,” replies the dry cleaner.
“Five dollars to clean the tallit, forty-five dollars to take out all the knots!”
End of joke.

Some people don’t know a tallit can be cleaned says Michael Kaufman, owner of Drive Thru Cleaners in Houston. You can dry clean all types of tallitot says Kaufman and most stains will come out unless they are age stains. As to fabric, Kaufman says it’s not always easy to tell. Wools are straight forward but silks should be tested because some are blends of silk and rayon and, also, acrylic tallitot need delicate care. And those knotty fringes can tangle or stretch so speak to your dry cleaner about special treatment. The most difficult cleaning problem is age spots which come from the tallit not being used and kept inside a bag, especially a plastic bag. These age spots are compounded when they come from homes where people smoke.

End of slight rewrite of Aaron Howard’s article.

Don’t untie those knots! Photo credit: Israel_photo_gallery via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

Of course, the whole problem can be avoided if the tallit is used once in a while or you don’t smoke. But you knew that and I’m guessing “age spots” are right up there with liver spots and anyone who’s tried to remove those – well, good-bye stained tallit. So, nu, a great patina on your tallit – not valuable.

Still afraid to clean your tallit which sits in a plastic bag, mournful and forlorn in the back of the closet? Want to look dignified, wrapped in holiness and spiffy in shul? The Gift Shop carries most sizes from narrow through large enough you can wrap your entire soul in it. And, if we don’t have the color you want, we most likely could get it for you within a week or three.

If its advice you want, go to our rabbis or very much less reliable – Google. If it’s a new tallit, go to The Gift Shop and stay away from on-line shopping, gosh. You’ve got one-stop shopping right here at home. We’ve already done the heavy lifting for you and paid for shipping.

And, Rabbi Lezak suggests Spotless cleaners in San Anselmo – they get the knots!

How to Clean a Shofar

Congratulations on receiving your new shofar! But what’s this? As you exuberantly lift it to your mouth preparatory to your first blast, you notice, well, a faint (or not so faint) odor emanating from your newest acquisition. When you buy a shofar, please remember that since the shofar comes from an actual real, live animal, there may be some particles of sinew, muscle or bone left inside the shofar which may cause this odor. No fear! Here are some tried and true methods for eliminating shofar odor!

Photo credit: Len Radin via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

How to Eliminate Shofar Odor

The best way is to start with the lightest cleaning methods and work your way to the strongest if necessary. First, gently scrub the interior of the shofar with a toothbrush and water. Let dry naturally.

  1. Vinegar method: Pour synthetic vinegar into the shofar and let dry naturally. Then soak the shofar in warm soapy water for twenty minutes and remove to dry. This method can be repeated once or twice.
  2. Hydrogen peroxide method: Plug the shofar mouthpiece with an earplug and fill it halfway with hydrogen peroxide which will bubble as it cleans out the shofar from particles and residue. Swirl it around the horn and then pour it out. You can repeat this method once or twice, too.
  3. Gravel method: Plug the ram’s horn shofar or the yemenite shofar mouthpiece with an earplug and pour in some aquarium gravel, not large or sharp pieces. Plug the large end with a foam nerfball and shake it for about fifteen minutes. Remove nerfball and gravel, then replace nerfball, fill halfway with alcohol and shake for a minute. Remove nerfball and earplug, pour out alcohol and let dry naturally.
  4. Oxi clean method: Plug mouthpiece with an earplug, fill the shofar or the yemenite shofar halfway with hot water and put a scoop of “oxi clean” inside. Plug the large end with a nerfball and let sit for an hour. Remove ball, pour out oxi clean, rinse and let dry.
  5. Shofar odor neutralizer spray: non-toxic biodegradable Shofar Odor neutralizer spray will eliminate unpleasant scents from your shofar leaving it odor free. Check online for ‘Shofar Odor Free’.
  6. Baking soda method: Dissolve a few tablespoons of baking soda in water and pour into shofar. Block mouthpiece and large end as above and shake for about a minute. Pour out liquid, rinse and allow to dry naturally.

~Wishing you a sweet new year!
Ronna, Gift Shop Buyer

join The Gift Shop management team

For some years now I’ve been the manager and buyer for The Gift Shop backed up by a strong supporting cast.

  • Fanny Stein has been my right hand woman
  • Joanna Berland our fantastic treasurer, who has had to put up with my incompetency in way too many ways and is still my dear friend
  • Dodi Friedenberg has taken on the fun part – Volunteer Coordinator – and stepped into the big shoes of Jenn Levine who took us into the digital age
  • Leslie Laskin-Reese has helped us create our ads, our WRS and CRS written presence and is personally responsible for creating the Gift Shop “look”

This is truly a team effort and I do very little without consulting the team. But managing and buying are both big jobs and I can only continue doing one. It will come as no surprise that I’ll keep the buying job – who wouldn’t? So now we need someone to take on the manager’s role.

In a nutshell, this is what you will do:

  • Purchase supplies as needed – cash register rolls, tape, pens, tags
  • Keep in contact with JCC as needed
  • Trouble shoot the cash register (oy) and keep the Square credit card reader humming along
  • Make sure shop is spick and span – we all know I need to attack the pile of boxes behind the counter!
  • Coordinate the February volunteer thank you luncheon
  • Help new volunteers learn the ropes and be able to train them
  • Kindly remind me if I’ve failed to purchase something
  • Coordinate a thank you volunteer luncheon in November where volunteers also learn about new Hanukkah items so they’re familiar with what we’ll be selling.
  • Attend once a month WRS board meeting and report on the status of the Gift Shop – however, this job can be shared with a few of us on the team
  • Attend a once a year budget meeting where the WRS budget is hammered out – always an informative gathering of terrific people
  • Have a forward looking vision for what the Gift Shop must be for all our community no matter their economic status
  • Decide if a purchase can be returned and under what circumstances

There’s probably more but them’s the highlights.

Does this sound like you or someone that you know? Pay is in thanks and kind words from our grateful customers. If you are interested in talking about this further, please call the gift shop and leave me a message. 415-444-8098.


matzah lollipops…seriously

Oh, My Gosh! Passover is coming fast…April 22 is the first night.

Searching for an appropriate video to share with you was quite a journey – my goodness, what passes for good taste these days!  Worse than bitter herbs! One of the first videos was, I kid you not, ‘Passover 2016 (April) 70 + 1260 years ending NOW’ (by someone named 9Nania….whatever that means). The description begins, ‘2016 marks the end of both 70 and 1260 years when the Bible says the meteorite will hit. Passover 2016 occurs on the exact 70th anniversary….’. I’d already checked out at ‘meteorite’.

Then I found one of those cute, kid-made videos by a brother/sister team for what they called a ‘matzah cookie ball’. They tried making these with chocolate chips….no, sorry, not for this blog. An atrocious way to ruin perfectly good chocolate!

I did find a video to share. But before we get to that, here are a few items we’ve got in The Gift Shop for Passover….besides of course seder plates, Miriam and Elijah cups, clear acrylic matzah holders, spatulas, frog shaped ice cubes, cookbooks….

Check out our totally fun, new this year, knee high Passover socks. Can you deny you want these? You’ve got eight days and then some to share some Passover fun…they’re a great gift for granddaughters, daughters, moms, friends.
Then there are Marzipops! Marzipan frogs and matzah on sticks. We know how to do Jewish cute. We’ve only ordered thirty to see if you’re interested so don’t dawdle…come in and grab a few while we’ve got them. We will order more if there is interest but can’t guarantee they’ll get here before April 22.

So, nu, what did I choose for this month’s video? Joan Rivers and Martha Stewart making matzah houses. Although I’m a very proper and perhaps prudish person from last century, the bit with Joan Rivers and flat matzah had me plotzing. And when Joan used the B-word on Martha, well let’s just say it’s worth twenty minutes of your life. Besides, those decorated matzah look pretty tasty!

Enjoy the video, laugh a lot and come by the shop and fill up a bag to take home for Passover.

The Gift Shop manager


about that chicken

The Kosher Chicken Index

really….it does exist!

On Jan 8th, the Jewish Chronicle of London, England, published their research as The Kosher Chicken Index to spell out the cost of living a “full” Jewish life in London when compared to the alternative. Not too fond of that “full” part as it carries with it some sort of “shame on you” for Reform Jews.  But it is an interesting peek into London Jewish life.

For example, the Jewish Chronicle reports on the increased cost of a Jewish wedding compared to non-Jewish. But where is it written that Jewish weddings must cost an arm, a leg and your first born? Bring that cost down (how hard could that be?) and the Kosher Chicken Index becomes less of an issue.

And if you think the cost of kosher chicken is way too high I have one word for you…vegetarian! There are ways to bring down costs, and whether you choose to keep kosher or not, the recipes coming out of  Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook will rock your world. Buy it at the Women of Rodef Sholom Gift Shop in the JCC…but you knew that!

Regardless of your take on kashrut, The Kosher Chicken Index does make for interesting reading.  Enjoy.

If you do decide to take on that chicken, Bubbe can help. Bubbe has left us, but her heartwarming videos play on.

But back to the Gift Shop….here are a few things you should know:

  1. The Gift Shop carries almost 60 tallit, from traditional styles to modern, wool, silk, polyester and acrylic and priced from $60 to $300.
  2. The Gift Shop looks for unique Judaica like the mezuzot made from found industrial materials by Schmutz & Bolts out of Berkeley.
  3. The Gift Shop carries a child size lap harp with accompanying Jewish sheet music. Can’t you see this? It’s Seder and time for a song and the little one asks for quiet  then moves everyone to tears with a Jewish tune on the lap harp. You kvell!
  4. The Gift Shop carries Mini Mazels for your next simcha.  Made from Belgian chocolates, they are tiny coins foil wrapped in pink or blue or an Israeli theme of blue and white. Bag of 240 costs $24.00.  Sprinkled around tables you’ve got something really unique.

~Ronna Voorsanger
The Gift Shop manager




Maccabee Santa and other sweet joy

when Maccabees weren’t

photo courtesy
photo courtesy

I love Kaiser Permanente and especially the cardiology department. And, why does this have anything to do with chocolate Maccabees & Hanukkah? Because when my newly acquired cardiologist told me it was doctor’s orders to eat a square of high quality, 70% or more cacao chocolate every day, I didn’t much mind that I also had to take those new meds! I just love Kaiser…how cool.

I also decided that we would only carry high quality chocolate in the Gift Shop so our customers would smile too. We wouldn’t carry the little, chocolate Maccabee soldiers. They’re just not the same yumminess when you tear off their foil and pop them into your mouth.

Until just the other day someone wrote an article that they had unfoiled a Maccabee and took a good look…who does that? What this person found was so Jewish-news-worthy that it showed up in The Forward! Under the Maccabee foil was a very naked, very chocolaty Santa Claus….so I got right on it and have ordered 144 little Maccabee soldiers (144 divided by 18 = 8 – the distributor chose the number not me).

photo courtesy
photo courtesy

Run right in to The Gift Shop and grab some! Getting undressed has never been this much fun.

other sweet treats

Stuck inside because who wants to go out and get chilly or wind-blown or wet? Using silicon molds, bake Hanukkah goodies or freeze or chill a Hanukkah treat for family, friends or just for you to dig into using The Gift Shop’s silicon dreidel or Star of David silicon muffin molds or ice cream molds or Jello or whatever.

Here’s an extremely peppy young lady who’s not afraid to show you how it’s done.  Enjoy the video, grab the keys and drive on down to The Gift Shop for your very own molds.


Wouldn’t mind if you shared your successes on this blog…just use the comments below. And maybe even bring a sample into The Shop!  We’d love that.

~Ronna Voorsanger
The Gift Shop manager




Hanukkah’s first candle 2015

Like most Jewish holidays, Hanukkah is about family and food! Beginning with food….

the Food

I love Hanukkah, usually squeezed in between Thanksgiving and Santa Claus, followed by New Year’s whoop-dee-doo, the promise of lots of rain and a few extra pounds to work off at the JCC. Think sufganiyot, latkes, kugel, cake, chocolate. I’ve pulled together a few ideas to make your culinary holiday special….beginning with this video that turns sufganiyot into mere child’s play. Before you begin, visit The Gift Shop for your star shaped cake pans, dreidel shaped ice cube molds, and of course lots of fair trade gelt to get this holiday rolling! Now go get your kids, or your grand-kids, and get cooking!

the Light

One of my family’s favorite Hanukkah traditions is to attend the lighting of the Mama Menorah in San Francisco’s Union Square. Watch here for a schedule of this year’s candle lightings as well as when SF Chabad will plan their yearly party with music, dancing and crafts for the children. For your celebrations at home, The Gift Shop will carry over 70 different styles of menorahs as well as beautiful candles direct from Safed, Israel.


the Gifts!

This Hanukkah, we’ve brought you Jewish gifts not found anywhere else in Marin County…I’ve checked and no, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, even Macy’s don’t carry most of the selection that The Gift Shop offers! Tops on my list is a series of Jewish adult, meditative coloring books and I admit when first introduced to this item, I reverted back to my childhood and know you will, too. Imagine:  stormy day, hot cup of coffee, sharpened colored pencils, soft music and your coloring book. We’re also carrying the most fun your feet have had since you were a kid: adult women’s Hanukkah socks. Cute, no?

The shop will be ready on Sunday, November 8th. We’re clearing the shelves and stuffing everything you need for Hanukkah into our little shop: wrapping paper, ribbons, gift tags, menorahs, candles, gelt, dreidels, plushy Hanukkah bear, miniature snow globes and more. Hanukkah’s only five weeks away and The Gift Shop will sell out. I’m happy to reorder but, well honestly, you will have to wait and pray there’s no behemoth snow storm between here and wherever the goodies are shipped from.

and Finally

One last thought to share with you – we will not be carrying Hanukkah tree toppers nor Hanukkah fire place stockings. And this is based on the wisdom gleaned from one very wise rabbi.

A menorah should be honored for what it is and a Christmas tree likewise.  If you’re celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas in your home, let each symbol be itself – just like each of us. ~Rabbi Stacy

~Ronna Voorsanger
The Gift Shop manager