We’re constantly getting inquiries from people who are impressed with our website and want to drop by our shop when they come on a visit to Israel, based on the assumption we have a brick-and-mortar shop somewhere in Jerusalem.
The only problem is we’re situated in an out-of-the-way location in Modi’in Illit, which is at least half an hour outside of Jerusalem, and we’re not set up to accommodate walk-in customers.
My speculation is that a lot of people visit Israel once every few years, and when they come they’re hoping to go back home with a nice new tallis or tzitzis in their suitcase. Or maybe a brother or friend or cousin asked them to bring back a tallit. In many cases the selection at their local Judaica shop is too limited to provide them the tallis they want, or they are looking for special options that are not easy to find.
Sending someone to buy things for you is not always an ideal solution because when you buy just about anything in Israel, you pay 17% VAT, which often offsets or even exceeds shipping costs. For example, if you buy a tallit for $120, you’ll see on your receipt that you paid $17.44 VAT, which is something like state sales taxes in the US — just much higher. Shipping options for a purchase like that on our website would be $10-$15 to US and European addresses, so you wind up saving money by ordering online and having us ship it directly to you.
Can you get around VAT? Some stores in Israel that cater to tourists are set up to refund the VAT when you spend at least NIS 400. You pay the full amount, fill out a form and then before you get on your plane there’s a VAT refund counter at the airport. Note that they charge a service fee (usually 10.5%-15%) to receive the refund.
In fact, even if you place an order on our site and enter a shipping address in Israel — or even choose our pickup option — you will also be charged 17% VAT.
All orders shipped out of Israel are exempt from VAT. We have to do a lot of work to export all of our orders according to government regulations, but it’s worth it because it enables us to keep our prices affordable. A few years ago I was toying with the idea of opening a brick-and-mortar tallit shop in Jerusalem, but I abandoned the idea largely for the above reason. (The other reason was my wife wouldn’t let me; she said I was working long enough hours as-is.)
If despite the above you still feel you really want to shop in Jerusalem, keep reading. After many years of working in the tallit and tzitzit business, I’m closely familiar with the best tallit stores in Jerusalem. The following is a partial list.
The best tallit and tzitzit stores in Jerusalem are located in Geula and Mea She’arim. This is the frum shopping district along Rechov Malchei Yisrael, which is over the hill (i.e. up Rechov Strauss, past Bikur Cholim Hospital and down to Kikar Shabbat), running parallel to Rechov Yaffo about five blocks to the north.
Talit Center has two shops along Malchei Yisrael. They sell both Mishkan Hatchelet and Talitania. They usually have tzitzit tie-ers in the back room if you have a special tzitzit request. (Expect to wait anywhere from one hour to one day.) They tie Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Chabad. They’re prices are good, but their English is not!
Their rivals are Shamaya, which has a shop right next door and another one around the corner. Sometimes their prices are very attractive. I have almost never worked with them, so I don’t know much else about them.
Mishkan Hatchelet has at least a dozen factory outlet stores around the country, with at least five tallit and tzitzit stores in Jerusalem. Most of the traditional wool tallits we sell are manufactured by Mishkan Hatchelet, which is generally considered the top tallit maker in the country, and possibly worldwide.
The main branch of their tallit factory outlet stores is on Rechov Malchei Yisrael, about two blocks down from Schneller (which is a well-known Jerusalem landmark, soon to be a high-rise residential building). They also have a branch tucked away out of sight off of Ben-Yehuda, near Cafe Rimon. They speak very good English in that branch, but the selection is somewhat limited.
In the Old City, just off the Cardo, is a shop called Weaving Creation (a.k.a. Maaseh Oreg). They specialize in exquisite handwoven tallits (see here) made by master weaver Ori Farhan. These tallits are not cheap, but the craftsmanship is superb.
Another shop that specializes in handwoven designs is Gabrieli Rubin, whose tallits are well-known around the world (see here). Their weaving studio is located in Rechovot. The manager of their Jerusalem shop is Ori Gabrieli.
Other Judaica Stores in Jerusalem
All around town, especially the Ben-Yehuda Shopping Mall and the Old City, you’ll run into innumerable Judaica dealers who have tallits among their wares. If you find something you like, fine, but be aware that they generally have very limited expertise and their prices are not great. If you come across a very attractive price, it’s probably a tallit made of acrylic, not wool.