Determined to help more Jews observe kosher, shliach Rabbi Shalom Ber Bakshi arranged with his local Walmart supermarket to carry several islands of kosher products. The expansion was announced at a menorah lighting in the store.
Living in a remote place, outside the corridor of Jewish communities and Jewish life, carries the price of many luxuries and easy access to many things. Perhaps the most challenging one is not Kosher food in a local supermarket. Imagine a mother is middle cooking or serving super and there is no more milk for the children. Imagine you are hosting a surprise guest in your house and you don’t have what to treat them with.
Indeed that’s the case in many remote communities where Chabad Shluchim are serving their communities with self sacrifice and not treating themselves and their families with Pizza or shawarma every month and Thursdays.
This is also how it’s for the Rebbe’s Shluchim in Woodbridge Ontario, a suburb community situated at the north west of Toronto. Rabbi Shalom Ber and Chana Bakshi and their 7 children arrived there 5 years ago right before Chanukah 5779 – December 2019 from the flourishing Jewish community of Thornhill. Knowing there will be more easy access to Kosher food, fresh or frozen. Shopping will need to be a week in advance and in case you run out of something you just train yourself to wait a few days or a week.
But, knowing that we are here to help the local Jewish adopt Jewish lifestyle using the 10 Mivtza campaigns of the Rebbe – says Rabbi Bakshi, we made a point that will change, sooner than later.
Sure enough after a very serious coordination and hard logistic, as well as making some connections with the local Walmart’s manager -one of the big one in the city of Vaughan- the local Shluchim were able to help facilitate a one booth/island middle of the store, with minimal and basic Kosher cans and long-shelves life items.
To announce this exciting news Rabbi Bakshi invited the manager with her store crew to the local Lag baomer parade to give this exciting and long awaited announcement… and throughout the summer months work was made to actualize this plan and the first arrival of Kosher food right before Chanukah 2022. Knowing how challenging it’s to achieve such a thing and the coordination that required to pull this off, news created a very big shturem in the local Jewish community as well into the other parts of the province.
Took few months and the store approved 5-6 more islands of Kosher food. This obviously was a nice expansion and the momentum of the Shluchim from the community members really built up high!
But, for the Rebbe’s Shluchim that was only the beginning of a journey. After encouraging the community and working with the local Canadian food distributors from Toronto and Montreal this year’s Chanukah the manager made an announcement for an extraordinary expansion of a 16′ long aisle of only Kosher food (!!!) This will include frozen challa, gefilte fish, Shabbos candles, grape juice, snacks, crackers, soups mandalach and much more.
And you guessed it right. For this exciting announcement in such a special time, there is no greater place and time as the Menorah Lighting at the Store (!) a unique and exciting Menorah Lighting took place right across the opening of the store, at the most busy and traffic place during the evening hours and right after the Menorah lighting led by the Shliach Rabbi Shalom Ber Bakshi that the store manager agave the official announcements with the plan to be actualized beginning of upcoming January.
Considering the sensitive situation in Israel and around the world, having a Menorah lighting in a local store was really a great Kiddush Hashem with a very well attended community members and customers, Jews and non-Jews. Another very fascinating fact was that the store manager asked the community members to bring over all their request and ideas for kosher food and she reassure everyone that all their request will be fulfil, if it’s hummus or herring, horseradish or grape juice – all will be included in the last to the distributor.
When we asked Rabbi Bakshi to give us a takeaway from the story, he replied: “I learned from these 2 very important lessons: A. When you try to achieve something in Shlichus knowing you have the Koach of the Rebbe, you have no limitations. Regulations will be changed and the impossible will become possible and even when there roomer of the rising of antisemitism we have to continue to work proudly, making sure the Jewish present is everywhere. now more than ever!
The second lesson is, you have to have a vision and not get carried away when things are taking time and demanding extra effort. We should always stay positive and show to us and the world how we are not giving up and working toward achieving the goal. For us Yidden and Chassidim the ultimate goal is the coming of Moshiach NOW when we will be all reuniting with our Rebbe. Amen!
This week Rabbi Bakshi and his family are approaching the 5th year since their arrival to this Makom HaShlichus. Their Year-end campaign “Unite To Inspire” is in full swing until Tomorrow-Thursday night. http://JewishWoodbridge.ca/inspire