Do you still remember the dispute between the Or Ha'Chaim bookstore in Mea Shearim and some local Sikarikim ? The bookstore underwent a ban and its door was smashed.
Since the beginning of opening the branch, Or Ha'Chaim started quite successfully. They sell Hebrew and English Sifrei Koidesh and I also went buying books a couple of times. Most of the other bookstores in the area either don't sell English books at all or they only offer a limited variety. Or Ha'Chaim, on the other hand, has anything and it should be a great source for any English speaking Yeshiva student.
Among other things, the Sikarikim once complained about the missing Zniut inside the store as well as the English books. Most of the Sikarikim don't know any English and thus suspected the English Sifrei Koidesh to be too Zioini (Zionist). Afterwards I heard that Or Ha'Chaim eventually made an agreement and when I went to the store today, I was curious to find any changes.
The truth is that the store itself is still the same and no one seems to complain anymore. Lots of books in English and Hebrew. Artscroll Siddurim, Machzorim, Selichot, whatever you want. Furthermore anything else such as Gerald Schroeder, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z"l, Rabbi Me'ir Kahane z"l, women's issues, history books, Halacha, Torah, Talmud, Rabbi's biographies and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik which I bought today. What you don't find at Or Ha'Chaim and what I don't miss anyway, books by and about Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. The hippie Rabbi looking for more and more female "secretaries" is not my cup of tea at all. I once heard that when Reb Shlomo came out of a Mea Shearim bookstore (not Or Ha'Chaim) some locals spit on him. I am not saying that this was right but I am simply not a Carlebacher !
As usual, English Sifrei Koidesh are much more expensive than Hebrew books and normally I do buy everything in Hebrew. However, it is nice having some great books in English too, but purchasing those books is an investment.
When I went to the till, I noticed that there is a kind of gender separation while waiting to pay. This didn't bother me at all and I stood in line together with another woman. When I go there, I want to buy good books and I don't care where I have to stand. Not as long as I am getting the books I want.
Today, the store was busy and I even spotted out some Toldot Aharon or Toldot Avraham Yitzchak Chassidim as customers.
Mea Shearim Street towards the "Or Ha'Chaim" bookstore.
Or Ha'Chaim from the inside
Copyright / Photos: Miriam Woelke