The Seforim (Books) Sale, Yeshiva University’s annual student-run event, has become the largest Jewish book sale in North America. This year it is scheduled for Feb. 5-26 in Belfer Hall, 2495 Amsterdam Ave., Manhattan.
Last year, more than 15,000 people browsed among some 10,000 discounted Judaica titles including cookbooks, children’s books, music and lecture CDs, educational software, and rabbinic and academic literature.
“We try to draw different crowds, by providing books people can’t buy anywhere else – including some from Israel,” said Sam Ulrich, the Los Angeles native running the sale this year.
The popularity of the Seforim Sale has publishers rushing to debut their books at YU. Feldheim Publishers, for instance, will be featuring “Torah Tapestries: Words of Wisdom Woven from the Weekly Parshah,” by Shira Smiles, who taught at the Moriah School of Englewood and in Los Angeles before making aliyah in 2002.
Ulrich said the event began modestly around 1979 as a student activities fundraiser. Today, the proceeds also benefit YU outreach programs in the Jewish community. The profit margin is slim, though, and despite taking in more than $1 million in sales last year, the enterprise more or less broke even.
Ulrich is hoping for lots of foot traffic during the three weeks, not just for greater profits but also for tzedakah. “This year we’re selling trees through the Jewish National Fund. Trees purchased at the sale will be earmarked first for the Carmel, helping repair the devastating damage” from the December 2010 forest fire in Israel.
“Our customers are mostly from the tri-state area, but there are people who fly in from Florida and drive in from other places as well,” he said.
“We also run a smaller fall sale during the first two weeks of the semester, geared to students to buy their books but also open to the public,” Ulrich added.