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Shabsi's: A Judaica Center Borne of a Midlife Crisis

Menorahs and candles, Hebrew books on Jewish ethics and Talmud commentaries, popular books, toys and music CDs are all available at the Judaica store.


Shabsi's Judaica Center is more than just a popular site for Jewish supplies and gifts.

It's also the product of Shabsi Schneider's life-changing decision.

"This was a lifetime dream of mine," said Schneider, who opened the store 19 years ago on Clarks Lane in Baltimore. "As the (Jewish) community grew, I decided to take the plunge. I call this 'my midlife crisis.' "

The store has been at 6830 Reisterstown Road for the past 18 years and has become quite successful for the self-proclaimed book lover.

Schneider, a Park Heights resident who was 42 when he opened the store, now bills it as "one of the largest Jewish books stores in the country, in terms of size (of the store) and the size of the books collection."

It's second only to those in New York City, he said.

Store manager Helene Field has been with the store for 17 years, almost since it opened.

She gave a tour of the store, pointing out the Chanukah supplies, including a collection of menorahs from $5 and up—from traditional to whimsical.

There are a variety of menorah candles, thousands of Hebrew and Jewish books and cookbooks—not including those in a warehouse; as well as a large selection of music CDs for adults and children.

There's other Judaica as well, including dreidels and seder plates.

The newest section of the store is for children, and includes numerous books and wall-to-wall toys. That's a draw for many customers, especially for Chanukah, Field said.

There's a special to keep the customers coming in throughout Chanukah. Ending Dec. 28 is the special on Clics—sets of plastic, snap-together building blocks, Schneider said.

That includes:

  • A 600-piece Clics set for $49 (regularly $75)
  • A 1,000-piece set for $79 (regularly $109)

Schneider couldn't help but migrate from the children's area to the books. There, he pointed out some popular ones, good for holiday gifts:

But it's not all about gifts. His store's influence also reaches into education, supplying some books to private schools in the Pikesville/ Baltimore area. Those schools include , and Bais Yakov and Bnos Yisroel schools for girls.

Among the stacks is where this personable store owner and proprietor seems most comfortable.

"That's because I love the books," he said.

And when he speaks about his life-changing move into Judaica and books nearly 20 years ago, there's pride in the voice of this father of four and grandfather 'of many.'

"I thought: 'If I'm gonna do something else, I need to do it now,' " he said.

Jill Dudley Cohen December 15, 2011 at 12:09 PM
I am so glad to read about the history of Shabsi's. It is a truly remarkable store and it is the first place I think of when I need a special Judaica gift. They have quite a selection packed into one location and the staff is very warm and helpful, even if you are a blonde :)
Janet Metzner December 15, 2011 at 04:52 PM
I was surprised at how large the store is, and at how many books and music CDs there are at Shabsi's!


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