The annual Yeshiva University Seforim Sale opened its doors to the public at ten in the morning on Sunday February 4th, 2018, and will close its doors for the final time on Sunday February 25 at ten PM. Over the course of a little over three weeks, the sale will sell over 6,500 unique book titles to over 15,000 shoppers. Last year, the Seforim Sale generated $750,000 in revenue. All of the profits go towards student life on campus. The sale takes places in Belfer Hall on the Wilf Campus, and is the largest Jewish book sale in North America.
CEO of the Seforim Sale Aaron Ishida, YC ‘18, told The Observer that, “The Seforim Sale first and foremost provides both the local YU community and the greater Jewish Community the ability to acquire seforim at affordable prices. Additionally the Seforim Sale provides many students with real world work and job experience.”
Head floor manager Rachel Lelonek, SCW ‘18, explained, “A lot of hard work goes into making the Seforim Sale happen. We have been working in Wiessberg Commons since January 8th to ensure that this entire endeavor could happen. It took a lot of hard work, long nights and perseverance from all involved. And I’m pretty happy to say I think we’ve been doing a good job thus far.”
The Seforim Sale in entirely student run, from ordering books to setting up the tables and bookshelves and designing flyers for the various events. Approximately 100 students are employed by the sale. Ishida explained, “We have almost 100 students who dedicate their time to the Seforim Sale. We send out applications, have an interview process and eventually hire the best candidates for the job.”
Many of these workers will be seen walking around on the floor or behind the the check-out counter in their grey “Seforim Sale” zip-up sweatshirts, while many others are working in the back, labeling books, collecting books for online orders, updating the computer system, or ordering new books. These hard-working students are paid in Seforim Sale gift cards, as well as given an employee discount.
The students on staff work hard, and many do it because they believe it will contribute to not only their college experience but also their life in general. “Working at the Seforim Sale has given me a community on campus. Not only that, though, it has given me so many friends that will stick with me for a long time!” Sophie Ostrow, SCW ‘19, explained.
Ostrow works in the back end, labeling and collecting books for online orders, rather than on the floor and interacting face to face with customers. “This is my second year working in backend. I love it because we are truly the backbone of the sale. We keep the floor stocked, shipments running, and do anything else that needs to be done! I get to see the sale from so many different perspectives,” she said about her experience.
The Seforim Sale also features a diverse array of programming. For example, the sale hosted a panel discussion sponsored by YUConnects featuring Rabbi Mordachai Willig and Chava Willig Levy and book launches from Rabbi Mordachai Z. Cohen and Rabbi Gil Student.
The Seforim Sale also features several discount days, such as a YU alumni discount day, a YU faculty discount day, and an NCSY advisor discount day. Ishida told YU News, “What is important at the end of the day for both YU and the Seforim Sale, is not how much money we make, but rather how much Torah we can spread to our fellow Jews.”
Every year the sale goes through changes and improvements. The Chief Operating Officer Yonaton Glicksman, YC ‘18, explained to The Observer one of the ways that the sale has grown this year from last year. “We’ve expanded our order from a number of vendors, like Peter Century, in order to offer a wider array of titles by Rav Avraham Zvi Kluger,” he reported.
Many YU students enjoy that this sale takes places on their campus. One anonymous student told The Observer that she enjoys shopping there, but most of all, “I love seeing the community come together over their love of learning. As the people of the book, it is fitting that we fill our shelves with seforim from the sale every year.”