A Commack Judaica shop has been forced to close its doors after more than 30 years as the local gathering place for Jews.
, owned and operated by in Commack, closed its doors in the Northgate Shopping Center off Jericho Turnpike on Sunday. Rabbi Mendel Teldon said its closure is a painful loss for the local Jewish community. It is also one of the last of the brick-and-morter Judaica stores in Suffolk County, according to Teldon.
"It hurts for the Jewish community, as this itself is reflective of the Jewish community. We had a Judaica store fore 30 years and now it's closing up. We can't even support a mom-and-pop Judaica store," Teldon said.
Chai & Mazel was opened roughly 30 years ago by Pauleen Goldberg, who opened and maintained the shop for 25 years. When she sought to close its doors and retire, Chabad of Mid Suffolk took it over as as a "service to the community."
Despite investing from $30,000 to $40,000 to clear up and revitalized the storefront over last three years, the synogogue said its unable to keep the shop up and running. In short, Teldon called Chai & Mazel a "sinking endeavor."
"Three years later, it is not what we envisioned it to be," Teldon said. "Retail stores in the area have suffered. The Internet has taken a large chunk out of retail."
The Judaica shop sold basic religious items for the holidays such as menorahs, dreidls to everyday items such as books about faith, religious artwork and jewelry. But the store also served a larger purpose, according to Teldon.
"It served a purpose as a non-threatening venue for people who had Jewish questions, as its not a synogogue or place of workship. They could come in, grab a menorah and ask a question about these religous items," the rabbi said.
Teldon said it was a place where friendships were formed and anyone, regardless of faith, could feel welcome purchasing as gift to give friends or family who were Jewish. He recalls many memories there.
"There's a touch of sadness, but it's time to move on," he said.
The rabbi said the closure of the Chai & Mazel also presents a new challenge and opportunity for his synogogue.
"We will continue as a congregation to reach out to all those who are interested or unaffiliated."
Teldon said there will be people packing up the store throughout the week, who welcome friends and members of the Jewish community to stop in and say goodbyes if they are in the area.