Ofir Azran, a native of Israel who made his home in Houston, decided in 2017 that if he missed the products of his homeland, there were others who missed the items, too.

Ofir Azran

He set out to create a shop that featured foods and other products from Israel that he could not find anywhere else in the city.

The result, Harova Market, is a small retail space in the office building at 10103 Fondren Road in Brays Oaks Management District. Located at the rear of the building with a separate entrance, it stays open even when the office part is closed, such as on Sundays.

To meet the local demand for the store’s products, Azran packs a powerful punch of items in the limited space, especially since he has expanded beyond Israeli products to dry and frozen kosher goods.

With one of the city’s largest stock of kosher items, the market includes refrigerated space with 24 doors, along with shelves and shelves of dry goods and all kinds of household items.

Harova also sells prepared foods, specializing in Israeli salads. Hummus and black and green olive tapenade are among many offerings at a salad bar.

Harova also stocks a large selection of bakery products such as fresh-baked challah bread and pastries. They also bake fresh pizza.

Azran says the market is also the biggest retailer of kosher wine in Texas.

Most proud of being strictly kosher, Azran said Harova is one of the few retailers that completely gets rid of all inventory before the annual spring holiday of Passover. Observant Jews avoid bread and other leavened products during the eight-day holiday and rely largely on products made exclusively for that period.

“We switch out our entire store, so that those who are strictly kosher, can buy during Passover,” Azran said.

The war between Israel and Hamas has prevented the shipment of many Israeli food products to the U.S., so some of Harova’s stock is running low. Azran said that because he built up large inventories of goods beforehand, he still has some popular products, but replacements will be hard to come by for a while.

On Nov. 1, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and supporters challenged retailers to observe a Mitzvah Meal day on which a percentage of proceeds would go to an emergency fund to benefit Israeli war victims.

“I have a personal connection to the tragedy,” Azran said. “My father’s cousin lived in a kibbutz (that was) attacked, and she was kidnapped, and later identified as murdered. So this takes on greater importance for me personally. There is a great need for financial support.”

The store raised about $1,500 between that day and its participation in the  Red Balloon Initiative – “Bring them Home,” which is posting fliers and balloons throughout Houston advocating the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

Azran hopes to expand his business next. His space holds thousands and thousands of items, but he wants to offer more.

Phone: 346-223-2887

Hours except on holidays:
8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday
7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday

— by Arlene Nisson Lassin