A new kind of gelt

The fall of dreidels and gelt: today's kids want today's toys for Hanukka.

kid & menorah 88.298ap (photo credit: AP)
kid & menorah 88.298ap
(photo credit: AP)
Once upon a time, perhaps, Jewish children were satisfied with receiving "gelt" (pocket money) for Hanukkah and playing with their "svivonim" (spinning tops). But no more. Today's kids want today's toys, and Hanukkah is traditionally a very busy time on Jerusalem streets and in the malls. As the holiday approaches, shopkeepers in the Jerusalem area are hoping for increased sales. Some have already reported increased revenue, while others wait expectantly for what they hope will be the pre-Hanukkah rush. Shopkeepers report that popular gifts this season include the ever-popular svivonim, construction and building toys, board games, card games, brand-name dolls and some newer additions, including remote controlled cars, family strategy games and, of course, all sorts of computer games and equipment. After all, says Shai, an employee of a Ben-Yehuda mall toy store, "children want what they see on TV." "The children are very excited and come in with their parents and choose what they want," said Galit, the owner of a new toy store near the Mahane Yehuda shuk. Galit believes that, when shopping for Chanukah gifts, parents were prepared to pay for quality, even though the economic situation in Jerusalem remains grim. A mother shopping in the shuk says that she bought her seven children svivonim as Hanukkah gifts. And a Belgian immigrant along the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall says that her children "expect presents" on Hanukkah. She'll be buying toy cars, building and construction toys, and decorations for her children's rooms. But some children have other ideas. When a visitor from the United States asks her four-year-old son what he would like for Hanukkah, he shyly whispers back, "A toy guitar." His grandmother, she says, will give him a different gift every night. She knows she's already bought him slippers and a child's tool box. The owner of a jewellery shop in the Ben Yehuda mall told In Jerusalem that so far, the pre-Hanukkah rush was not in sight. "People aren't spending too much" as yet, but she hopes that the pace will pick up next week. An employee of a toy store in the Ben Yehuda mall, and the owner of a toy store in the Zihron Moshe neighborhood said the same. Motti, the owner of a toy store near the busy Mahane Yehuda market for over 25 years, tells In Jerusalem that sales generally increase by 20 to 30 per cent just before Hanukkah. Motti also reports that sales this year are even better than last year, attributing this to a decrease in the terrorist activity. "In a quiet time, more people come and buy," he concludes. Zion, owner of a bicycle shop for over 12 years, says that bicycle sales increase between 30 and 40 percent just before Hanukkah and that they are higher this year than last. "People like holidays," he adds, "[but] Jerusalem is not such a rich city. When people have less they spend less - but they still buy".