I am not certain how other families spend their holidays but ours are fairly easy to summarize and unwavering: beach, read, hike, read, swim, read, sightsee, read. Whereas some people might first seek out the best dining or souvenir shopping, our initial survey of the land focuses on mapping out the bookshops, and we have a clear preference for used bookshops.
While our favorites are Strand in New York City, Powells in Portland and Sefer Ve Sefel in Jerusalem, we have enjoyed numerous others along the way. In Noosa Heads, Australia, after devouring most of the books in their small used bookshop, we even joined the local public library (which was a surprisingly easy process considering we didn’t have a local address or local identification). If you find yourself on Phi Phi Island in Thailand, for example, the selection is somewhat limited. As of last year, there was only one store left, but the selection can carry you through a weeklong holiday (unless you are looking for early readers and chapter books). You can do much better for yourself if you first stock up in Bangkok.
When in Jerusalem, every other summer, our first stop on day one is invariably Sefer Ve Sefel. In fact, we make so many trips there in our five weeks, that (and this will only mean something to other patrons), we no longer have to leave our bags under the stairs. Sefer Ve Sefel is our favorite in Jerusalem, and is located just off of Jaffa Road on Ya’abetz Street. Like most used bookshops it has a wonderfully eclectic selection but also has a well-appointed Judaica section.
This past summer, while rummaging around the children’s section, my eleven-year-old daughter stumbled upon a copy of Rashi’s Daughter: Secret Scholar by Maggie Anton (written for ages 9-14). She was familiar with the title because she has seen the adult version of all three Rashi’s Daughters books on our bookshelves and had heard me talk about them.
Needless to say, we bought the book. She left the shop reading, including down the stairs (ill-advised). We didn’t hear another word from her until she shouted, “Finished! I LOVED it. I HAVE to get the books about the other two sisters!). She led us on a search of the city on a quest for the ‘other’ two books. There is nothing we enjoy more than a quest for a single book title and the more obscure the better. It is an excuse to traverse the entire city and snack along the way.
After checking three other used bookshops, later that day she stopped by a more traditional bookseller, Tamir Books on Emek Refaim. Tamir Books is very near to where we stay and was therefore the final stop of the day. She went in on her own to enquire if they had other books available in the series (as we were still under the assumption that there were books for the other two daughters as well in the teen series). She came out laughing hysterically. When she finally composed herself she was able to tell the story.
My Daughter (D): Do you have the book Rashi’s Daughters for children?
Clerk (C): Yes, have many books for children.
D: Great. Thanks. But do you have the children’s version of Rashi’s Daughters?
C: What? Wait! What did you say? Rashi had daughters? Are you sure?
D: Yes, he had three daughters.
C: Wow! Who knew? (speaking to other clerk) Hey, did you know that Rashi had daughters?
D: Does that mean you don’t have the book Rashi’s Daughters?
C: There is a book about them? Are you sure he had daughters? I never heard this before.
D: I really think I need to go somewhere else.
After checking the internet that night, our quest sadly came to an end. As it ends up, for ages 9-14, there is but one book: Joheved’s story. And while a few years ago, I would have considering keeping that information to myself for a bit and allowing the quest to continue for just a bit longer for the sport of it, internet savvy preteens are fairly difficult to withhold information from.
Maggie Anton, if you are reading this, my daughter is waiting! Tamir Books, if you are reading, please add the series Rashi’s Daughters to your stock, including the children’s version.