Grapevine: Mendel and Mushka

Rabbi Ari Edelkopf holds a Torah scroll at one of several prayer centers set up to cater to Jewish visitors to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Russia. (photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR)
Rabbi Ari Edelkopf holds a Torah scroll at one of several prayer centers set up to cater to Jewish visitors to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Russia.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR)
IN ALMOST every Chabad family in which there are children, there’s a Mendel and a Mushka, who are named after the last Lubavitcher Rebbe in the Chabad dynasty – Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson and his wife Chaya Mushka, who were childless. The names were given even when the two were alive in the hope that some of the wonderful attributes of the Rebbe and his wife would be emulated in their namesakes. A year after celebrating the bat mitzvah of their daughter Mushki, the Chabad rabbi of Rehavia, Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, and his wife Shoshi this week celebrated the bar mitzvah of their eldest son Mendel at the Prima Palace Hotel, where four generations of family and friends gathered for the festivities.
When Mendel’s father celebrated his bar mitzvah in 1990, his parents took him from their home in Canada to New York to get a blessing from the Rebbe. Although Chabadniks believe that the spirit of the Rebbe lingers among all his followers – or the Rebbe’s army of emissaries as they call it – it’s not quite the same to be old enough to join this army, as it was to meet the Rebbe face to face.
The Goldbergs have another celebration coming up soon when they officially inaugurate their new Chabad Center in the capital’s King George Avenue in what used to be a city landmark – Stein’s Book Store. The center has been going through a running-in period.
Mendel is scheduled to read the Torah portion for the congregation this coming Shabbat, and his proud parents are inviting everyone to come and hear him.
Meanwhile in Montenegro, another Menachem Mendel is preparing for his bar mitzvah on September 6. His parents, Rabbi Ari and Chani Edelkopf, who are the first-ever Chabad emissaries in Montenegro, landed there with their seven children in August last year. They estimate that Mendel’s will be the first bar mitzvah in Montenegro in more than 150 years. Because of its historic importance, guests will include Chabadniks from abroad. But one doesn’t have to be a Chabadnik to join in the merrymaking, and anyone who will be in that part of Europe on the date will be welcome.
The Edelkopfs were previously Chabad emissaries in Sochi, Russia, where they spent 16 years and often arranged bar mitzvahs for other children. This is the first time they are organizing a bar mitzvah for one of their own.
IN MID-JULY, Rabbi Yosef Ote published a letter via email to congregants of the Hazvi Yisrael congregation informing them that he had been contacted by Odelia Ben-Porat, director of partnerships at the Reut-Sderot organization, a religious Zionist community in Sderot. She told him that they were collecting money to buy packages of games and food for each child living near the Gaza border. The idea was that the packages would help to ease anxiety during the siren alerts and the time spent in bomb shelters. The organization had set a goal to purchase 400 packages at NIS 60 each. Last Shabbat, Ote reported that members of the congregation had been quick to answer the call and had contributed close to NIS 400,000, which enabled the purchase of considerably more than 400 packages.
A NOT-YET-fully-functional building on the corner of Jaffa Road and Sarei Yisrael Street has a row of food outlets on the outer wall on the Sarei Yisrael side. The row of diverse food options now includes a Berman’s Bakery store.
Berman’s Bakery was founded in Jerusalem’s Old City in 1875 by Russian immigrants Rabbi Todros Levi Berman and his wife Krisha to serve the needs of Christian pilgrims who did not like the local pita bread or any of the local pastries. Many of those pilgrims were from Russia, and the Bermans provided them with a taste of home. The Bermans with their son Yehoshua, who became the family business manager, also founded the first flour mill outside the Old City.
Business flourished and additional members of the family joined the growing enterprise, the premises of which were moved to various parts of the city until the 1960s when the bakery headquartered itself in Givat Shaul. Since then it has continued to expand and update itself with modern machinery, an ever-greater range of breads and sweet and savory baked goods with easily accessible presentations for self-service.
Yaheli Atir, CEO of the Berman Group, says that the company intends to open more stores, especially in neighborhoods where there are people who insist on Badatz kashrut certification.