What you give is not what you get.
Steve Permison, President
I had the opportunity to be part of a prayer group of roughly 2000 people, many years ago, as a delegate to a national meeting of the UAHC in California. The UAHC was the predecessor of the Union for Reform Judaism which is the professional organization for Reform Jewish Congregations. Hillary Clinton was our keynote speaker and set the stage for a very productive conference with her famous words “It takes a village.”
These words ring as true today as they did 15 years ago and their meaning is the motivation behind our new, printed Sabbath Service Programs. These are the programs that our Vice President and Treasurer, Jack Goldman, wrote about in the last issue of this newsletter, eKoleynu.
Simply stated, in maintaining Hevrat Shalom we are building a Jewish Community. Wikipedia defines community as “a social unit of any size that shares common values.” Community success may be measured by participation. To encourage participation and thank participants our Sabbath Service Program includes the names of some of the many participants necessary to create a community Shabbat.
Please think about how your name might be included on our Sabbath Program. How you might participate in the success of our community. Please find a way to contribute to and support Hevrat Shalom. In doing so I am sure you will discover - as I have discovered - that what you get back is much more than what you give.
A Tribute Across the Millennia
By Rabbi David Kuperman
The first portion of the second of the Books of Moses, Exodus, begins by telling us that a new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph and, fearing their growing numbers, enslaved the Israelites. As if that wasn’t enough, Pharaoh demanded of the Hebrew midwives, Shifra and Puah, that “When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the birthstool: if it is a boy, kill him.” But the midwives refused to carry out this order, and explained to Pharaoh, when he challenged them, that the Hebrew women are so vigorous that by the time they arrive the Hebrew women have already given birth.
What we have here, as pointed out by Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, is the first recorded instance in history of civil disobedience: the most powerful man in the most powerful empire of the ancient world gives an order and Shifra and Puah refuse to carry it out, largely (though perhaps not entirely) because it is immoral and unethical.
The story of the midwives has echoed in history. In the sixteenth century, in contravention of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, Martin Luther placed the Bible at the center of religious life. At the same time, semi-clandestine translations of the Bible into the vernacular, and the invention of the printing press, made the Bible much more widely accessible. English Protestants in Geneva translated it into a small, affordable edition that they smuggled back into England in large numbers. That Bible introduced new readers to the story of Shifra and Puah. It even included a printed marginal note that explicitly endorsed their refusal to carry out Pharoah’s order. You may be sure that King James got the message and wasn’t happy about it – that the authority of God superseded the authority of kings. The story of the midwives planted the seed of the English revolution and influenced the mindset of the Pilgrims, who brought it with them to what was to become America.
In 1776, Thomas Paine, often called the “Father of the American Revolution,” published Common Sense. The logic of that pamphlet, which sold 100,000 copies, was entirely grounded in citations from the Hebrew Bible. These citations, some of them reflecting the story of Shifra and Puah, stimulated Benjamin Franklin to draw a design for the Great Seal of America that included the caption “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God,” thereby aggravating another English king.
The next prominent American to take up the tale of the two midwives was Henry David Thoreau. In 1849, his essay Civil Disobedience explained why he went to jail rather than pay his poll tax in protest against what he saw as an unjust U.S. war against Mexico. "Unjust laws exist,” he wrote. “Shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? … If the injustice is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. ... It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it and … not to give it practically his support.”
Thoreau’s life and ideas – a tribute to and explication of Shifra’s and Puah’s great act of civil disobedience – became influential in their own right. They laid the foundation for the ideas and actions of two towers of civil disobedience in the twentieth century: Mahatma Gandhi in India and, in the United States, Martin Luther King.
A Tree is a Tree is a Tree – Aren’t We?
By Senior Cantorial Soloist Caron Dale
A man was travelling through the desert. He was hungry, thirsty and tired when he came upon a tree bearing scrumptious fruit and providing plenty of shade. Below the tree ran a spring of water. The man ate some of the fruit, drank some of the water and rested beneath its shade.
When he was about to leave, he turned to the tree and said:
“Tree, with what should I bless you? Should I bless you that your fruit be sweet? Your fruit is already sweet. Should I bless you that your shade be plentiful? Your shade is already plentiful. Should I bless you that a spring of water shall run beneath you? A spring of water already runs beneath you.”
“There is one thing with which I can bless you: May it be God’s will that all the trees planted from your seeds should be like you.”
We celebrate the New Year of Trees, Tu B’Shevat, beginning the evening of February 3 through the next day. We eat from the Seven Species (shivat haminim): wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (Deut. 8:8). We plant trees in Israel, most often through the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and some even hold a Tu B’Shevat seder which discussed the spiritual significance of fruits and the shivat haminim.
However you choose to recognize this special day, I send you the blessing: May all the good will you plant in this world be sown by those you love and those in need.
Year of Mourning:
Helen Shirley Levine, Wife of Rabbi Reuben Levine
Barbara Schaeffer, Wife of Irving Schaeffer
Dr. Eugene Streicher, Husband of Dr. Janet Hutcheson
Bess Shay, Rabbi Discretionary Fund
Harry Zutz, Oneg
Aurora Reyes, Rabbi Discretionary Fund
‘Cheese, Yogurt and Ice Cream’
A Milchidik Sermon - AKA Dairy Sermon
By Rabbi Arnold Saltzman
Happy New Year to everyone, and I hope that you all enjoyed the end of the year festivities as well as the beginning of the New Year 2015.
This past year we had the revival and celebration of the Broadway classic, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ based on the stories of Shalom Aleichem’s ‘Tevye, The Milkman’ aka the Milchidik’ suggesting that Tevya was a mild person, not aggressive, and the father of daughter! Five daughters!
In one of the most memorable moments of the musical, Tevya sings "If I were a rich man", as he dances around the cows and chickens. The life of a dairy man, running a farm and delivering milk by a horse drawn cart was not to be envied. Yet, he is a man who dreams dreams, which help him to work through life’s problems, as he chats with God about his circumstance.
Forward several generations to modern Israel, and the book "My Promised Land" by Ari Shavit, who includes some of the success stories of Israeli’s in his history and political evaluation of Israel.
Instead of Tevya, we have German Jewish immigrants to Israel, Hilda and Richard Strauss. They were married in Ulm, Germany in 1934. They listened carefully to the Nazi broadcasts and decided to leave for Switzerland, Yet, ultimately they were not sure where they were headed. They knew they were no longer wanted in Germany, a land and country they had loved. They decide to go to Palestine where they and their children could be proud of being Jews.
Their experience was very difficult. They were disappointed in what Palestine had to offer them, with the conditions being harsh, the weather hot, and already at war with the Arabs in 1936. Richard had a doctorate in Economics, yet had to drive a taxi. It was nothing less that depressing. Yet, Hilda, wrote in her diary “...The days are long and full of suffering. Only the boy’s cheerful laughter keeps the soul alive.”
This is a wonderful comment in that it explains how the beauty of life even during the worst of times comforts through family and friends. It is a statement of what is really important - this child can laugh and doesn’t know yet the cruel ways of this world, and if he does, he can still rise above it.
With some money they saved they bought some land which had a small dairy farm. Practically nothing was on this land, yet it had carts, like Tevye’s. Hilda wrote “What does the future hold? Our fate is in the hands of strangers, and we can only fulfill our duty and trust in God.”
Weeks later there were cows in cowsheds, milk, and Hilda knew then that she had to learn how to run this farm. Richard learned to milk the cows, yet there were many dairy farms, so Hilda decided to learn how to make cheese.
Like Steven Jobs in a garage, inventing the computer, or Walt Disney in a garage drawing Mickey Mouse, Hilda used her kitchen to make cheese. She experimented, reading journals, and developed her own logo - A Peacock Stamp on the Cheese wrap, as Strauss is Ostrich in the German language.
By 1938 she won the British prize for dairy products. She and Richard began to focus on Cheese and founded Strauss- Nahariya in 1939 with WWII as background going on in Europe. The German-Jewish Nahariya attracted tourists and thousands of British soldiers looking for some respite from the war. Music, art, the beeches, hotels, fine food all attracted people for short vacations. This small area of German Jewish refugees and survivors now was filled with success and life. This was a Zionist success story.
The war’s terrible news and loss of family took its toll on Richard, who became severely depressed, yet, Hilda Strauss carried her thriving business forward. She was interested and m’dak’dek, meticulous about production. After the war she changed the logo to a Water Tower.
With German reparations, the Strauss family received new capital to work with as compensation for the property that their family had lost in Ulm, Germany. Their son, Michael Strauss was sent to Switzerland to study dairy production. The German connection allowed for the partnership with giant Danone in Germany bringing in the latest production methods and markets. The Danone plant opened on the Strauss’ original plot of land in 1973.
Michael at the age of 23 believed there was no limit to the dairy. He also recognized that Israeli’s were their best resource as they were motivated, hard working, and creative. Israel has a hot climate so people love Ice Cream. Hilda knew about this already in the 1950's. Michael made Hilda’s idea into a national brand. He bought his rivals in Israel and created a partnership with Unilever in the Netherlands. Strauss Ice Cream is dominant in Israel.
When life is bitter, what could be more enjoyable than something sweet? Tnuva began making yogurts and desserts. Their milky dessert had twice as much whipped cream as other similar desserts. Hilda’s kitchen became an empire of Yogurts, desserts and ice cream products.
After Hilda’s death in 1985 the company purchased Elite Chocolate and formed Strauss-Elite the largest food and beverage maker in Israel. Their most recent plant produced more than a billion cups of yogurt and desserts a year. In 2010 Strauss-Elite opened the largest Hummus producing company in the world. Where? In Virginia.
Their sales approached 2 billion dollars, with a 10 percent annual growth rate. The Strauss group is also now the fourth largest coffee company in the world, larger than Lavazza.
This is part of the story of Israel, and it is a story of the Jewish people, who persevere in a world with irrational hostility, nevertheless, the determination of a woman like, Hilda Strauss, is one for the ages. Strauss has fourteen thousand workers in fifteen countries. One thinks back to the blessings of seeing her son laugh, which saved her, gave her the determination for a better future, even as she let go of the anger which consumed her husband.
Hilda Strauss, you are Shabbat Hamalka - you are the Angel of our Sabbath.
Hevrat Shalom Supports
A big "TODAH RABAH" to Hevrat Shalom congregants who donated to Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel's emergency medical response organization. Hevrat Shalom sent a donation of $600.00 to help defray the costs of this volunteer organization that save lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The check will be used to provide general medical supplies to MDA so they are prepared to continue their important work.
Magen David Adom
Yahzreits for February
Jacob Baiz, Father of Micky Hamer
Flora Barsky, Mother of Philip Barsky
Daniel Bierman, Husband of Irma Bierman
Celia Blum, Sister of Irene Shapiro
John Dalquist, Brother of Kay Permison
Solomon Danis, Father of Elaine Garfinkel
Elaine Danovitz, Sister of Norma Danis
Abraham Gordon, Father of Dorothy Pocinki
Naomi Heller, Mother of Elise Ward
Carl Lang, Father of Gerald Lang
Ruth Levin, Mother of Inabelle Levin
David Lehman, Son of Leonard Lehman
Marcy Lehman, Mother of Leonard Lehman
Mae Reese, Sister of Hyman Shapiro
Hilda Schwartz, Mother of John Lass