Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018

How Hanukkah gets lost in the holiday

Hanukkah decorations and gifts adorn Avital Barnea's apartment in Washington. (Mary Mathis / For The Washington Post)

When she left Montana for college in Minneapolis a decade ago, Avital Barnea knew she'd join a Jewish community larger than the 30 families that her hometown synagogue in Billings. She also hoped that once Hanukkah came around, she would have options to shop for holiday decorations and gifts that went beyond the cards and menorahs at her temple's tiny gift shop.

At a Target near the University of Minnesota, she asked for Hanukkah cards and wrapping paper. No one knew.

"They were taking me around the store, saying, 'Maybe it's here, maybe it's there,'" Barnea said. "They could not find it."

As it turned out, only one in the Twin Cities area carried any Hanukkah inventory. So Barnea settled on a generic card – "Happy New Year" or something, "she said – and gave up.

Tradition teaches that more than 2,000 years ago, the Cruel King and the Rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The story goes to a small amount of oil, used to light the Temple menorah, miraculously burned for eight days.

But many Americans shopping for Hanukkah goods each year are hard-pressed to find enough trinkets to last just one.

That is especially true for Jews who do not know who they are. Jewish ceremonial art, also known as Judaica, and

Before Halloween is even over, most retail spaces are flush with Christmas decor that fuels a multi-billion dollar market each year. Yet many stores a few shelves of Hanukkah goods – a splash of blue-and-white inventory in a sea of ​​red and green. According to Adobe Analytics, when looking at items bought between Nov. 1 and Dec. 6 that had 'Christmas' or 'Hanukkah' in their names, Hanukkah made up about 1 percent of those purchases.

Hanukkah, Hanukkah, Hanukkah, Hanukkah, Hanukkah, Hanukkah, Hanukkah, Hanukkah, Hanukkah, Hanukkah (This year, Hanukkah began the evening of Dec. 2 and ends the night of Dec. 10.)

Retailers know they will not be able to get a huge profit from Hanukkah sales, so they have a little incentive to stock a range of options. In the United States, merchants typically start off at all times. The Jewish population in America is also more geographically widespread than it is in the past, making it for specific neighborhoods.

Avital Barnea lights the menorah during a Hanukkah celebration with friends. (Mary Mathis / For The Washington Post)

But there are signs of progress. This year marks the first time. The spokesman Joshua Thomas said, "The company looks at sales data and gathers input from store managers and shoppers to pinpoint what inventory would work best.

Nevertheless, Hanukkah still confounds the retail industry. Rabbi Chaim Mahgel-Friedman, co-owner of the Judaica store Afikomen in Berkeley, Calif., Said buyers for supermarkets, drug and convenience stores often "miss the mark" by placing Hanukkah orders too late in the season.

"They did not order the gelt in time for Hanukkah, and it's like, 'Oh god, we missed it! Is not it always around Christmas? "Mahgel-Friedman said, referring to the chocolate at the festival. "This year, it's definitely not around Christmas. It's an item that is not at the forefront of most people's consciousness. "

Barnea, for example, said that she was excited to be in Hanukkah with Papyrus – but she only found them after the holiday was over.

We had morning in late November, the options were scant at stores across the District. At a Michaels, the reporter said Hanukkah decorations. A confused employee responded with: "Who?"

Another employee chimed in, "It's just ribbon. You want to see it? "

Michaels's Christmas Inventory – past the trees and the twinkly lights, past a figurine Santa holding a surf board, past a life-size nutcracker. The employees of the ribbons, decorated in blue and silver snowflakes, were "Hanukkah inspired." Meanwhile, a Christmas carol played by the overhead speaker: "And put a smile on someone's face / 'cause it's Christmas every day. "

A spokesperson for Michaels said about 40 percent of the company's approximately 1,110 U.S. stores carry Hanukkah inventory. The seasonal assortment is introduced in mid-October. Many of the stores that sell Hanukkah goods by the company said.

This year marks the first time. Traditional big-box retailers Typically Dedicated Mostly to their holiday shelf. (Julio Cortez / AP)

At a CVS across town, there were no Hanukkah items in the Halloween candy, build-your-own gingerbread houses and "I Love My Chihuahua" ornaments. An employee said it would be another week before he knew if Hanukkah inventory.

A spokesperson spokesperson said CVS added their assortment based on sales.

A Target across the street had a modest Hanukkah section, taking up about one-quarter of an aisle in a separate display of cards and gift wrap. There have been few menorahs, candles and table decorations. Those were laid out next to non-holiday items: kitchen towels decorated with Stars of David, an inflatable balloon banner that spelled "The Chaim," and an apron that read, "Schmutz."

At Bed Bath & Beyond, an employee conceded that the Hanukkah goods were confined to "a small section." Still, the store has a few kinds of menorahs, candles and dreidels, and a decor and a Hanukkah-shaped latke server. pasta. In addition to menorahs, dreidels and candles, a Walmart in Washington sold Hanukkah cookies, stuffed animals, a menorah-shaped headband and a baby bib that read, "My 1st Hanukkah!"

But nearly all that inventory was dwarfed by Christmas items. At Target, for example, most of the store has been transformed into a Christmas wonderland, complete with trees, light-up reindeer and buckets of $ 3 ornaments.

Retail experts say there's a paradox at Hanukkah being lumped together with Christmas wares.

Alana Berman-Gnivecki, gallery manager at Kolbo Fine Judaica Gallery in Brookline, Mass., Said her store. Kolbo opened in 1978 and stocks Hanukkah inventory year-round, Berman-Gnivecki said, with an added push in November and December.

"I think that big box stores, and just America in general, makes this big deal about Hanukkah because of its proximity to Christmas," Berman-Gnivecki said. "I think it's misunderstanding of what our important holidays are."

Marshal Cohen, an expert on consumer behavior at the NPD Group

"When it's around Christmas, it's always bigger and better because of the traffic and the impulse and the frenzy," he said.

Berman-Gnivecki and Mahgel-Friedman said shoppers do not get the same experience online as if they went to a Judaica store. But since many communities do not have Judaica stores of their own, just online is often the only option. Barnea said Amazon is her go-to. Stores like Target, Walmart, Bath & Beyond and Michaels have more extensive Hanukkah sections on their websites.

Barbara Tellerman, a radiologist in Columbia, MB, said she does not want to go to Hanukkah. She has a list of websites, from Modern Tribe to Traditions Jewish Gifts to Kosher Kingdom, which she turns to ritual items and foods year-round. Tellerman said she's always excited to see what their Judaica stores have to offer.

"People just take it for granted that they need it," she said.

This year, Tellerman said she was relying on online shopping.

Still, she says she can go to Target or Walgreens, just in case.

"If you're really in a pinch," said Tellerman, "you can always get a box of candles."

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