Just as most Alabama fans won’t be able to get into Bryant-Denny Stadium this year, Alabama fans aren’t able to travel to Jerusalem to visit the Alabama Shop.
So Hani Imam is making it possible to get Alabama swag from Jerusalem online, through the new website bamabazaar.com.
“Covid-19 made it very difficult for us,” Imam said. “No tourists whatsoever in Jerusalem.”
The store is an unexpected find in the heart of the Arab market in Jerusalem’s Old City, and has been featured in the New Yorker and on “Conan O’Brien.”
But for Imam, who attended Alabama from 1985 to 1989 and also lived for a time in Huntsville, it’s a natural extension of his passionate fandom. When he returned to Jerusalem in 1994, he missed the wide open spaces of Alabama and “one of the best football teams ever.” When he took over the family business, he hung a sign as a tribute to the Crimson Tide, prompting questions. He then started making Alabama memorabilia in Arabic, English and Hebrew — and certainly differentiating himself from other stores in the area.
While there are the requisite Alabama T-shirts, there are many only-in-Israel items, such as a Crimson Tide painted shofar, ceramic mezuzahs and Alabama kipot. Olive wood items include a Biblical wine cup with the Alabama logo, a Big Al made from a solid block of olive wood, Stars of David, jewelry boxes, coasters — and an olive wood framed plaque commemorating “2nd and 26,” which needs no explanation for a true Bama fan.
Silver necklaces declare “Roll Tide” in English and Hebrew. How about a ceramic Bama pomegranate for Rosh Hashanah, or a hand-made silver Alabama pendant with a 2,000-year-old authentic fragment of Roman glass?
Imam has two prayers — “better days in the near future” with tourists able to return, and of course, “a national championship season.”