Kitov shuts book on Far Rockaway


Far Rockaway’s Jewish community is losing one of its few remaining commercial anchors.

After 35 years of providing a full range of seforim, from the esoteric to the familiar, Rabbi Yecheskel Kaminsky will shutter his Kitov Hebrew Books and Gifts after Passover.

Located at 1847 Mott Ave., on an active business street that is home to a church and a hair salon that offers tattoos, the store has remained a destination for book enthusiasts from near and far even as most of Far Rockaway’s frum shoppers gravitated to the Five Towns.

When Kaminsky first opened, Far Rockaway had numerous Jewish-centric establishments. Now, what remains are Kosher World Supermarket and Kosher Pizza World, both around the corner from Kitov on Cornaga Avenue.

“There’s no reason to come to Mott Avenue anymore,” Rabbi Yitzchak Friedman, a rebbe at Rambam Mesivta in Lawrence, lamented. “It’s very sad,” he told Kaminsky, but “I’m happy for you [on your retirement]. You served us well.”

Dr. Tuvia Shulman, a dentist with a practice in Lawrence, told The Jewish Star that he recalled some of the kosher shops that have closed since Kitov’s arrival — a butcher, a pizza store, a kosher takeout, Sari’s bakery, Sugar Bowl (a kosher dairy restaurant) and a health food store.

Kitov focused on books, as is still evident on the sheblves filling the store from floor to ceiling, and on book tables spread across the main floor and in the basement below.

Kaminsky was born in Chicago, learned in Telshe and Lakewood and, not wanting to specify how long ago, married his wife Chani from Baltimore, a bookkeeper at Yeshiva Darchei Torah, and “thank G-d” have children and grandchildren.

He had been an administrator at Mesivta of Long Beach, saw the lack of a serious bookstore in the area, and took over what was then Minzer’s gift shop. “It became a seforim store,” he said. “Nobody has the seforim we have. People come from all over.”

He also processes book orders for local and out of town schools, and although he will be closing the store, he will be keeping many of his wholesale accounts.

“Retail is not what it used to be,” he said. He is closing the store because he said he didn’t want to have to “train in” someone he would sell to and noted, “my personality is the business.”

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