Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pomeranz Booksellers "...where everybody knows your name..." #3

Yom chamishi, 2 Elul 5770.

When we visit a foreign country for more than a few days, most of us need to find a touchstone, a base, where we can feel at home.  Someplace safe, where for a few minutes each week, we are in command of ourselves and our environment.

I started visiting Israel "on my own" in the mid-1990s.  The trips were related to my work.  I am not a person who craves wild new adventures.  So I always marveled at my courage, as I would attempt these three-week trips without that excellent navigator and portable touchstone, The Dearly Beloved.  (Somebody had to stay with the kids.  Someday I'll write about those bachelor parties.  Now that was true adventure!)

Michael Pomeranz
I stumbled upon a wonderful book store, when it was just a crowded "hole in the wall."  This book store had more than just zillions of English-language Jewish books and seforim.  It had Michael Pomeranz.

The fact that we were both born in North Hollywood California was a good start for conversation, and created something of a bond.  But it was the American "service with a smile" that gave me that anchor in the stormy sea of foreign travel.

After several years of visiting, I remember saying to Michael how much I wanted to make aliyah, and how this would be "my book store" whenever I came to visit, and eventually when I would live here, please G-d.  He pointed to one of the old, comfy reading chairs scattered around the small room.  "Just remember that your chair will be waiting here for you when you make aliyah."  His belief in my future aliyah meant as much to me as his extensive collection of "must have" titles and the "take as much time as you need" browsing policy.

Eventually, M. Pomeranz Booksellers moved down the street to a bigger, more beautiful store.  (When we saw it, we wondered how the old store ever housed all those great books!)


Known simply as "Pomeranz" by regular customers, this excellent shop not only has books, but recorded music, various religious articles, and even Jewish gifts for the kids.

But with all the comfortable book-lined and air-conditioned space, and the excellent art (by Baruch Nachshon!), the real product of M. Pomeranz Bookseller is still the service, and the smiles.

Shira is the power behind Michael's smile.
A favorite employee: Michael's and Shira's handsome, hard-working son, Avraham Moshe

  Great sales outside the store tempt you before you even get inside.

Alon Freiberger finishes up his time in Israel with a larger purchase than he had expected.  Don't worry, lad, it happens to all of us.  And -- you'll be back!
Don't tell us where the biggest bargains are.  The Dearly Beloved and I will always prefer to shop at the places that treat you like a mensch.  If the prices are decent, which they are at Pomeranz, that's just a bonus.

If you are visiting in Israel and want to find titles at good prices -- sometimes even before they hit the stores back in the Old Country -- drop by  Rechov Be'eri 5 in Jerusalem.  You can also order books you are looking for by shopping online at

"Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came..." 
-- from the "Cheers" theme, by Judy Hart Angelo and Gary Portnoy

Seforim: books, often referring to holy books
Aliyah: Jewish immigration to Israel
Mensch: a human being -- here meaning "a person, not a number"
Rechov: street 
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