Moshe Joseph

On the 25th anniversary of his business, the owner of Aleph Bet Judaica says he feels like he doesn’t work.

Originally from Israel, Moshe Joseph, a husband and father of three, moved from Montreal after buying the store in 1987.

“I’ve come to the store every day since, but I’m not working, I’m enjoying every minute.”

Joseph, 57, met his wife, who is from Montreal, while she was on an ulpan in Israel. He worked at Rodals Judaica in Montreal, and when the opportunity arose to buy this store, located on Bathurst Street south of Wilson Avenue and formerly known as Zucker’s, the family moved.

“The 25 years have flown by. I love the customers, the products and the atmosphere.”

His day starts early. “I come to the store, eat breakfast, look at the news in Israel, call my parents in Israel [his father works in the store when he visits] and then open up. It is a routine I don’t change.”

“When customers come in here, though, they get the personal touch. They can ask questions, get advice, and shop in an Israeli atmosphere. It’s a different feeling.”

There’s no secret to the success of his business, he said. “We’re friendly here, so people like coming in. There is always Israeli music playing, there is a lot of choice in books and Judaica, and the prices are good.”

A member of the Iraqi Jewish Association, which holds services in the Sephardic Kehila Centre, Joseph said he carries books for every denomination. If a customer is looking for a product that’s not in the store, he’s happy to order it, he said.

Looking back on his 25 years in business, Joseph said Judaica stores are not what they used to be.

“These stores used to be the only place to buy Judaica and Jewish books. Now, [the items] are available online or even in supermarkets,” he said.

“Mine is a life-cycle store. Many customers have grown up with me. They’ve bought wedding, bar mitzvah, housewarming and baby presents, and these are items that are rooted in Judaism.”