Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Book And A Cup

Jerusalem people will know that I'm referring to the iconic bookshop Sefer VeSefel (A Book And A Cup), a second-hand English bookshop in the heart of downtown Jerusalem.

I'm not sure when it opened but it was here when I came in 1988. For over a quarter of a century Sefer VeSefel has been one of the famous places for Anglos to book themselves out (well you know what I mean) whether they be students, gap year participants, new immigrants, or veterans. And I've been all of these in my time. We all have Sefer VeSefel books in our bookcases.

Sefer VeSefel
The book part is obvious but what of the sefel (cup)? It was once a bookshop-cafe. Years ahead of its time. Decades before every trendy bookshop had an in-house coffee shop, we would go to Sefer VeSefel for a cup of tea, a pastry, and a good read. Of all the famous hang-outs of our youth, Sefer VeSefel is perhaps the only one that has stayed constant and survived. Except that at some point the cup of tea part stopped.

Everyone knew Uri Rucham the resident book mavin and confidente. So it was an enormous surprise to read that not only is Uri retiring but that good friends of mine, going back 25 years, have bought the bookshop. (I don't want to brag but the owners of Sefer VeSefel are old friends of mine...)

Zia and Michael Rose are the new proprietors. I went in today to visit and of course to buy some books. I cannot describe the excitement of seeing my friend owning the shop. It's like if one of your friends owned the cafe in 'Friends' and you were one of the friends.

I'd brought in three books from my shelves to exchange. I say 'exchange' as they don't buy your books but rather give you credit towards a book purchase. If you bring in enough books you could in theory do a straight exchange with no money involved. In practice this is impossible for any real book lover.

I took in three books and I left with five books (although two of them were from the bargain boxes outside). It was sort of my housewarming gift to buy a few extra - I won't always buy five books. My three books would have been an exchange for one new book if I added a few shekels.

Here's today's bounty - the five and the four
As I was choosing which books to take in, not an easy task after I'd decluttered my bookshelves for the Yedidya Bazaar in March, I decided that I'm going to read all my books again and only keep those that I absolutely love. The rest can go to to Sefer VeSefel in an ongoing downsizing exercise whereby every three books out equals one book in. This could take a few years.

Meanwhile, as I approached my building on the way home, I found a pile of books sitting on the wall outside. This is another traditional way to get rid of unwanted books in Jerusalem (possibly throughout Israel). No one wants to throw away books. Books are sacred, So we leave them out for the taking. I took four. LOL, I came home with nine books!

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like an incredible book shop, and how lucky to know the owners! They can recommend stuff that they know you will like! :)