His Hasidic Toy Story

Brooklyn Merchant Wants To Be Ultra-Orthodox Brand Name

Fun and Games: Samuel Lipschitz finds inspiration in Sam Walton’s story.
Kristen Clark
Fun and Games: Samuel Lipschitz finds inspiration in Sam Walton’s story.

By Kristen Clark

Published March 27, 2014, issue of March 28, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Samuel Lipschitz, 27, grinned as a pint-sized red smart car pulled up next to the curb outside his toy store on Lee Avenue in Brooklyn. Lacquered onto the side of the car was a children’s cartoon character: a freckled, round-faced boy with curly brown peyes, or sidelocks, and a yarmulke.

“What Walt Disney did to Mickey Mouse — that’s what I’m trying to do here,” said Lipschitz, who designed the character.

Wise Buys, his South Williamsburg toyshop, caters to children in Hasidic Brooklyn. The Wise Buys Boy is the store’s mascot, and — if Lipschitz has anything to say about it — he’ll one day be America’s first ultra-Orthodox household name. Lipschitz has plans for Wise Buys Boy puzzles and dolls, and is talking with suppliers in China.

Hasidic children don’t watch television, Lipschitz explained, so the store’s mascot fills a big gap — as does his uniquely Jewish toy selection. “Sponge Bob,” he said, “is not an item here.”

The shop’s jam-packed walls boast a rainbow assortment of dreidel-shaped crayons, strings of silly felt hats for Purim and even a Monopoloy-like game called Deal Spiel. Mitzvah Kinder Totty Mentchees action figures — dressed for synagogue — are hot sellers here, along with the Hatzalah toy ambulance.

“I never dreamed of working with toys. But basically it became a passion,” Lipschitz said.

Action Figures: Totty Mentchees is one of many kosher toys at Wise Buys.
Kristen Clark
Action Figures: Totty Mentchees is one of many kosher toys at Wise Buys.

Small businesses like Wise Buys have traditionally been one of the few avenues for financial success in a community that carefully restricts its contact with the secular world. Observance of the Sabbath and religious holidays, for example, can put Orthodox Jews at a disadvantage in looking for work in the larger community, says Rabbi David Niederman, executive director and president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg.

He added that rigorous study of the Talmud could come at the expense of secular education.

“College and doctors and lawyers — that’s a profession that we have not been involved in,” Niederman said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.