Chanukah starts this weekend, but for some American Judaica merchants and artists the holiday season was over weeks ago.
In fact, they say the Chanukah gift-buying season, traditionally a major source of their annual sales, never began.
Besides the U.S. economic recession affecting many businesses, they are blaming another culprit: the proliferation of Israel expos and fairs promoting Israeli retailers and craftspeople being sponsored around the country by synagogues and Jewish community centers, with millions of dollars at stake.
Fearing an onslaught of protestors, kosher meat giant Agriprocessors hastily changed a meeting planned for Tuesday afternoon in Midtown into a conference call.
Agriprocessors’ attorney, Nathan Lewin, and the company’s newly hired compliance officer, former U.S. attorney Jim Martin, spoke to about 20 listeners who had been invited to participate.
They included “distributors and community leaders,” said Juda Engelmayer, senior vice president of the public relations firm 5WPR, which was recently hired by the embattled kosher meat giant.
In a normal year, Rabbi Gerald Skolnik of the Forest Hills Jewish Center begins writing his Purim essay for the synagogue bulletin about a month before the March holiday. This year he’s already turned his thoughts to it, a month earlier than usual.
Blame it on the recession. To save money, Rabbi Skolnik’s Conservative congregation has converted the monthly bulletin into a bimonthly one, mostly online now instead of printed and mailed, which means early deadlines for the rabbi and other contributors.