Furniture Professionals Find a Jewish Oasis at High Point Fair

The Semi-annual International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, N.C. attracts hundreds of Jews who were in need of Kosher and Shabbos Accommodations. Since 2012, the local shluchim have stepped up to provide for them.

By Menachem Posner –

For years, Greg Jaron, a furniture retailer who lives in suburban Philadelphia, has been attending the semi-annual International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, N.C. The sprawling market spans several city blocks of showrooms and is the place to be for professionals in the furniture and home decorating industries.

Jaron recalls the challenges of attending the market as a religious Jew in years gone by. “I’d have to pack all my kosher food with me and carry it around at the market,” says Jaron, whose family-owned stores are in New Jersey, just across the Delaware River from his hometown. “And on Shabbat, I’d be all alone in my hotel room with cold food and a bottle of grape juice.”

Over the last decade, he has joined hundreds of other fairgoers who enjoy fresh kosher meals, prayer services, and a welcoming place to share a hot coffee and warm conversation with fellow Jewish attendees.

Rabbi Yosef and Hindy Plotkin, co-directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Greensboro, have been operating a Chabad center at High Point since 2012 amid the 11.5 million square feet of show space that attracts more than 75,000 people from more than 100 countries.

During the fair, as many as 100 Jews gather daily for meals, while many others stop by to put on tefillin, schmooze, or hear a quick Torah thought before heading to their next meeting.

Since 2015, the Plotkins have been operating a similar Jewish oasis at the Showtime Market, which serves the textile industry.

With fairgoers representing just about every subset of the Jewish world, Jaron notes that people joke that High Point has its own nusach, Nusach High Point, a hybrid of Ashkenaz, Syrian, Chassidic, Persian and the customs of all who come together to worship in the showroom-turned-Chabad Center.

The Plotkins regularly open their Chabad House on the Shabbat coinciding with the market so that Jewish visitors can enjoy a much-needed 25-hour break from the event’s constant bustle.

Through spending Shabbat at Chabad, Jaron has come to know local community members who have reached out to visitors and gone out of their way to accommodate them. For instance, when Jaron needed to recite Kaddish on a yahrzeit just before the market was set to open and there weren’t enough attendees to form a minyan, Rabbi Plotkin gathered locals to ensure Jaron could fulfill his obligation.

“Thank G‑d for Rabbi Plotkin for bringing Yiddishkeit to High Point,” says Jaron. “And thank G‑d for the Rebbe, who had the wisdom to send couples like the Plotkins all over the world.”

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