Just before Passover the Jewish Bulletin mentioned us again in a front-page feature article. The subject was haggadot (service books for the Jewish Passover seder). The owners of all the local Jewish bookstores and other Jewish-owned bookstores were interviewed on the subject.
Just a block away from The Store” is a prominent bookstore called Cody’s. In his interview in the Jewish Bulletin, owner Ira Steingroot boasted that Cody’s had the world’s largest Passover display and the best local haggadah selection. In describing the wide range of their haggadah inventory, he pointed out that they catered to specific groups and even had haggadot for Christians and blacks. He said these helped Christians celebrate the Last Supper and black people see the analogies between black and Jewish slavery experiences. Carrying such a variety was his way of expressing the freedom the holiday meant to him.
Yet with all his freedom of expression, Mr. Steingroot still found one kind of haggadah so objectionable that he would not allow it in his “world’s largest Passover display.” He said he would not handle our Jews for Jesus haggadot because he didn’t like the idea of our using “his” holiday to “proselytize.”
It dawned on me that Mr. Steingroot had just provided the perfect idea for our own holiday window display at “The Store.” We enlarged portions of that Jewish Bulletin article and placed them in our window along with plenty of copies of our two haggadot. Then we added a sign that read: “We Carry The Haggadah That Cody’s Won’t Handle—15% Off!” That attracted many people to our window. They not only noticed the sign, but now they stop and examine our display whenever they pass by.
Many of the neighboring shop owners boarded up their windows against the possibility of street violence as California awaited a second verdict in Los Angeles’ Rodney King trial. Rather than board up our window, however, we decided to use the opportunity to proclaim God’s peace to a troubled society.
We set up a poster based on Amos 5:24 that read, “Let justice roll down like water.” Upon seeing it, one of the potential rioters commented, “Yeah, man, we know who you are. We won’t bust up your window!”
Our window is becoming a “prophetic voice” in the Berkeley community. We’re making progress!