Charlotte Stein, 1901–1987, proprietor of Charlotte Shop, the first and oldest gift store in Jerusalem
Born in Berlin, Charlotte Stein studied arts & crafts there. She had emigrated to Jerusalem after what she described as a moment of political insight and because “I didn’t want to make bourgeois things for bourgeois people anymore,” 1Jerusalem Post Magazine, Friday, November 5, 1971 p.21. opening her shop on Storrs Street in 1931. The first and oldest gift shop in Jerusalem sold Charlotte’s own hand painted silk lampshades and catered to British soldiers, eager to send souvenirs home. Charlotte worked closely with the city’s craftsmen, helping them to adjust their work to modern sensibilities and needs, and cultivated merchants from near and far. She said, “There’s nothing like the fun of never knowing who will come in next and bring you something which you’ve never had in the shop before. You have to swallow hard and not show your enchantment.”2Jerusalem Post, Thursday, December 31, 1981.
The store has weathered over 90 years of social and political storms and today still occupies the same space on Storrs Street, now called Koresh Street. Charlotte’s successor, Noga Eshed, continues to curate a unique collection of art and artifacts: copper craft, Armenian ceramics, Persian fabrics, antique jewelry, Bedouin embroidery, Moroccan and Israeli art.
Charlotte Stein was on of Ismar David’s oldest friends in Jerusalem. He designed signage and graphics for the store.