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New Yorkers are buzzing about local honey this Rosh Hashanah

(New York Jewish Week) — Five years ago, Gadi Peleg, the owner and founder of Breads Bakery — an Israeli-style bakery with roots in Tel Aviv and stores around Manhattan — began to sell New York City-harvested honey in his stores in the weeks before Rosh Hashanah. It was an instant hit.

All the products at Breads (other than soft drinks) are prepared in-house, and it made sense to Peleg that the honey be proprietary, too. So Peleg turned to Andrew Coté, a fourth-generation beekeeper and owner of Andrew’s Honey, who has more than 100 hives around the city. 

“Honey from the city is cleaner than honey from the countryside,” Coté, who is Jewish, told the New York Jewish Week. “Very few to no pesticides are sprayed in Manhattan.”

Beekeeping became legal in New York City in 2010, at which time 42 bee owners were registered. According to the New York City Health Department, there are currently 121 beekeepers registered with the city. Tom Wilk, New York City director of the Empire State Honey Producers Associations, estimates that there are probably twice that amount. “People are afraid of letting the government know what they are doing,” he said.

Interest in beekeeping continues to grow, and there are classes on beekeeping throughout the city. Brooklyn Grange, a leading rooftop farming business, holds a Beekeeping 101 class at its Brooklyn Navy Yard location. In Astoria, Queens, Nick and Ashley Hoefly, will soon open the city’s only dedicated honey shop, The Honey House at Astor Apiaries where you can try honey, take classes in beekeeping, gardening and cooking. 

September is a busy month for New York City’s beekeepers. Rosh Hashanah, and its custom to put honey on the holiday table, jacks up demand — and demand in a city with 1.6 million Jews is steep. What’s more, September is a big harvesting month and, for the last 13 years, the Queens Beekeepers Guild has hosted a honey festival on the second Saturday in September on the boardwalk in Rockaway Beach.

Coté, founder of the New York City Beekeepers Association and the author of a book about urban beekeepingis perhaps the best known of the beekeepers spread across the five boroughs. He and Peleg first became acquainted at the Union Square Greenmarket, where Coté sells his wares. The four-day-a-week market is just down the block from Breads’ original Manhattan location on West 16th Street. It was a win-win situation for the two businessmen: The beekeeper gained an additional revenue stream while the baker acquired an exclusive source of honey from a producer who’s landed on “best” lists.

Of Coté’s dozens of hives, four of them are earmarked for Breads. They are located on the roof of a building at 19th Street and Broadway.

“When people hear the honey comes from hives a few blocks away, they react with disbelief,” said Samantha Mele, logistics manager at Breads Bakery. She is referred to as its “Queen Bee” — both because of her focus on details and her involvement in the honey project. “Longtime customers will pre-order since they know we sell out.” 

“We first prioritize jarring the honey,” Peleg said. “People really enjoy it obviously with apples and on our challah bread.” He added that Breads sells “ many, many hundreds of jars” of the stuff each fall.

Breads also uses honey — local, if available after jarring, as well as honey sourced elsewhere — in a variety of Rosh Hashanah baked goods, including honey cake, medovik (a caramelized biscuit layer cake made with buckwheat honey), honey rugelach and safta cake (a honey, cinnamon and apple cake).

The amount of honey harvested from Breads’ four hives changes year to year, and the flavor — which depends on where the bees collected their pollen, and when the honey was harvested from the hives — varies, too. 

“Generally the earlier honey [of the season] is lighter and the later honey is darker,” Coté said. “That’s because of what is in bloom at different times of the year. The early harvest [in New York] is full of pollen from linden trees.” Pollen from these European lindens, according to the Central Park Conservancy, makes a delicately flavored honey

Beekeeping is a full-time job for some New Yorkers, like Coté, who grew up keeping bees in Quebec with a Catholic and Native American father and a Jewish mother. “My mother’s family was thrilled to have beekeepers in the family, since it meant a relatively endless supply of fresh pure honey, for all occasions, but most especially for Rosh Hashanah,” he said. 

For other urban beekeepers, it’s “a hobby that pays its own way,” according to part-time beekeeper Menachem Husarsky of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. 

Husarsky began raising honey bees three years ago, at his wife’s request. She, along with their daughter, suffers from seasonal allergies, and many believe that ingesting locally sourced honey helps people build immunity to their pollen. (Alas, the medical community is divided on this.)

“Menachem took the idea and ran with it,” said Malka Husarsky, Menachem’s wife, who recalled her own mother eating local honey to help with her allergies. 

Within a year, the family’s COVID-era hobby grew into a small business. In 2021, they began to sell their honey, The Birds and the Bees Brooklyn. Most of the sales are via Facebook, to the local communities of Ditmas Park and Kensington, but they also sell to their fellow Orthodox neighbors at their upstate home at Vacation Village in Monticello, New York. 

So far, this year, the Husarskys have harvested 170 pounds of honey from four hives located in the modest side yard of their Brooklyn home. This season’s flavors are rare: “We have apple, cherry and peach trees on our property,” Husarsky said. “We have Meyer lemon and clementine trees in pots. A lot of our neighbors in the area grow mint and someone was growing hot peppers.” 

By the end of this season, they expect to extract a total of 375 pounds of honey, which they sell for between $2 to $3 an ounce (the peach honey, which has a more limited supply, goes for $3 an ounce).

Sales, said Husarsky, “kick up in September around Rosh Hashanah,” and they usually sell out. 

And at the Husarsky family’s celebration of Rosh Hashanah, “We intend, of course, to dip our apples in our honey,” said Menachem Husarsky. “We have apple trees on both our properties with apples ready for Rosh Hashanah.”

“We’re excited and blessed to spend the holiday with family,” Malka Husarsky added. “ It will be really special to have our family around the table, filled with items from Hashem and our urban farm.”

And there may be Jewish lessons to be learned from beekeeping, too. According to Rabbi Eitan Webb, director of the Chabad House at Princeton University: “Honey bees all work together in unity. They know that time is short and there is so much to do, and they run around as fast as they can, so they can create something good.”

“Bees make honey, but they also sting when they are threatened,” he added. The late Chabad rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, “suggests that, like bees, our primary role is to do mitzvahs, bringing sweetness to the world. Though we have the power to sting, we should reserve it for sparing use and only in defense of our treasure: Judaism.”

At Breads, the crew there has been preparing for Rosh Hashanah — which begins on the evening of Friday, Sept. 15 — since March. “We realize what a huge responsibility it is to ensure that people can celebrate the holiday,” Peleg said. “We take that responsibility very, very seriously.”

As for Coté, he and his family celebrate Rosh Hashanah by having — you guessed it — a honey-based feast. First, there is honey cake. “Our honey cake is always made with buckwheat honey for a much richer and more satisfying (in my opinion) honey cake,” Cote wrote to the New York Jewish Week.

Then, there is the honey and apple tasting. “Since I work at a farmers’ market, I always command a wide spread of different apples,” he said. “These are sliced and sorted and dipped in an almost equally diverse selection of honey.”

The post New Yorkers are buzzing about local honey this Rosh Hashanah appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Former ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Star Patricia Heaton: Every Human Being Should Be Against Antisemitism

One of the billboards erected in partnership between JewBelong and O7C. Photo: Instagram

Emmy Award-winning actress Patricia Heaton said this week that following the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, it should be a “natural” reaction among all humans to want to combat antisemitism, as well as support the Jewish people and Israel’s right to exist.

The “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The Middle” star, who is a devout Catholic, made the comments during her guest appearance on the NewsNation show “CUOMO,” where she also advocated for Christians to voice solidarity with Jews and Israel after Hamas terrorists murdered 1,200 people and took 250 hostages during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Heaton began by telling host Chris Cuomo that after the Oct. 7 atrocities, she was “confused by the lack of outcry from the churches.”

“I even posted on Instagram, ‘Did you ever have that thought that if you were in Germany during World War II, you hoped that you would be that good German that helped to hide your Jewish neighbors? Well, today you have that opportunity,’” she added.

Following the Oct. 7 attacks, Heaton founded a nonprofit called the Oct. 7 Coalition (O7C) to urge Christians to be visibly outspoken against antisemitism, and in support of Jews and Israel’s right to exist. Heaton’s O7C has since teamed up with the nonprofit JewBelong to launch a nationwide billboard campaign to raise awareness about antisemitism in the US.

Talking about why she wanted to get involved in rallying support for Israel and Jewish communities facing a rise in antisemitism in the US since the Oct. 7 attacks, Heaton said, “I think if you’re a human being, that should be your natural response to what we saw.” When asked about how people in the entertainment industry have reacted to her avid pro-Israel stance, she said Jewish friends in the business have called her “brave and courageous.”

“[But] I just think this is just a normal human reaction,” she said. “I have heard ‘We have projects we have to promote. We don’t want to bring politics into it.’ I guess if someone spent 50 or 100 million on a movie, they don’t want to introduce this subject matter and I guess you can understand that. But generally speaking I think Hollywood could do more to support our Jewish community.”

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‘Encampment Has Crossed a Line’: California State LA President Condemns Pro-Hamas Rioters

Protesters at California State University, Los Angeles, attempted to take over a second spot on the CSULA campus in Los Angeles, United States, on June 12, 2024. Photo: Shay Horse/Reuters Connect

The president of California State University, Los Angeles has issued a searing condemnation of a pro-Hamas riot that broke out on campus on Wednesday night and resulted in her being trapped inside her office for hours after activists led by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) illegally occupied an administrative building.

“Last night, those involved with the encampment chose violence and destruction,” Berenecea Johnson Eanes wrote on Thursday in a note to the campus community. “The significant damage to [the Student Services Building] will affect student-facing services: including admissions, records, accessible technology, basic needs, new student and family engagement, Dreamer resources and educational opportunity programs. It will take time to restore all those spaces and divert significant resources that would otherwise go to academics.”

Eanes added, “I am saddened, and I am angry … I cannot and would not protect anyone who is directly identified as having participated in last night’s illegal activities from being held accountable. The encampment has crossed a line. Those in the encampment must leave.”

According to Eanes, as well as various local media outlets, a night of destruction unlike any in the school’s history began on Wednesday when a mob of students stormed the campus, overturning cars, vandalizing school property, and assaulting students and staff. They proceeded to take over the Students Services Building (SSB), which they barricaded with numerous objects they amassed from across campus, including — according to The Los Angeles Times — bikes, tables, umbrellas, and rope. They even used their own bodies, “chaining” themselves to various access points.

The mob’s takeover of SSB was sudden and swift, forcing the school to issue a “shelter in place” order which trapped Eanes and dozens of other administrative staff in their office. Four people, including one student, were assaulted during the attack on the building. When it cleared, police essentially quarantined the area, reportedly declaring it a crime scene.

Footage of the riot shows scenes unlike any that have taken place on US college campuses since earlier this year when pro-Hamas rioters began commandeering sections of school property and refusing to leave unless administrators agree to adopt the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel — an initiative aimed at isolating Israel from the international community as the first step towards its eventual elimination. Broken glass carpeted the building’s floor, the result of the students smashing through door glazings with blunt objects. Meanwhile, red paint stained its tiles, and graffiti displaying anarchist symbols and saying “Free Palestine” covered its interior walls.

“Campus community: Know that we will recover from this, but also know that I am committed to doing everything we can to ensure this will never be allowed to repeat,” Eanes said in Thursday’s statement. “A trust we had in the encampment to practice non-violence has been violated. Trust is a hard thing to restore, but we will do the work together.”

Meanwhile, Students for Justice in Palestine has hinted that more destruction is forthcoming, and the latest local reporting indicates that no one has been arrested.

“We will not back down!” the group said in a social media post. “We will remain steadfast for Palestine!”

Students for Justice in Palestine, which has resorted to intimidation, harassment, and even physical violence to pressure universities into severing ties with Israel, defended their actions in a press release issued on Wednesday. Noting that its members had camped on campus for 40 days, the group said that Eanes, whom they summoned to a meeting after blocking all of SSB’s exits, ran out of time to accede to their demands.

“This direct action is in response to the failure of President Eanes to continue to negotiate in good faith with the Popular University for Gaza Solidarity Encampment on campus,” SJP said. “She has refused to continue negotiations or make meaningful progress toward meeting the demands of the student body. Delaying negotiations past the end of spring semester at a commuter campus shows clear bad faith and an attempt to wait out students instead of actively working to reach an agreement.”

In a chilling statement which acknowledged the intentionality of their behavior, SJP said administrators who had been trapped inside SSB could only exit with “escorts.”

“We will not back down and we will rise again just like our comrades in Palestine,” SJP said after law enforcement reclaimed the campus, suggesting there will be violence next time rather than peaceful protests. “We will remain steadfast in our mission for disclosure, divestment, boycott, and for our university to call for the end of the occupation and bombardment of Gaza.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Judge Allows ‘Mandalorian’ Actress to Proceed With Disney Lawsuit After Being Fired for Nazi Germany Comments

Gina Carano as Cara Dune in “The Mandalorian” season two, exclusively on Disney+. Photo: Disney+

A US federal judge ruled on Wednesday that actress Gina Carano can proceed with her lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilm, which fired her from the Disney+ television series “The Mandalorian” because of a social media post that compared political differences in the US to what Jews experienced in Nazi Germany.

“I look forward to this case moving forward and proving Disney’s blatant discriminatory actions,” Carano said after leaving court in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

“Disney should not have carte blanch authority to fire any actor just because Disney disagrees with something they say outside of work,” she added. “No actor would be free to have a voice if that were true.”

US District Judge Sherilyn Peace Garnett in Los Angeles ignored efforts by Disney lawyer Daniel Petrocelli to dismiss the lawsuit. Petrocelli claimed Disney has the “right not to associate with a high-profile performer on a high-profile show who’s imbuing” the Star Wars-based series with “views it disagrees with,” which could result in fans turning away from the show. He argued that Disney has the First Amendment right to sever ties with an employee who does not share the company’s values, even if the move violates state anti-discrimination laws. Disney purchased Lucasfilm, started by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, in 2012.

“I’m not convinced there are no disputed facts,” Judge Garnett said in response to Petrocelli’s argument. The judge referred to allegations made by Carano that she was fired in 2021 to draw attention away from some of the controversies Disney was involved in at the time, including its contract dispute with actress Scarlett Johansson and critique of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act.

Carano starred as bounty hunter Cara Dune in the first two seasons of “The Mandalorian.” She was not under contract to appear in the third season of the show, according to court records.The actress claims in her lawsuit, which has received funding from X/Twitter and Tesla owner Elon Musk, that she was wrongfully terminated and discriminated against when she was fired from “The Mandalorian” in 2021 for expressing personal views on social media that Disney did not support.

Lucasfilms, which co-produces “The Mandalorian,” announced Carano’s firing after the former mixed martial arts fighter shared a post on social media that said: “Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors … even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”

Disney argued that the state cannot force employers engaged in “expressive activity,” like Disney and LucasFilms, to work with someone who allegedly hinders its ability to properly express its values. Petrocelli claimed that the First Amendment entitles Disney to take action to make sure “The Mandalorian” is not associated with views that it and many viewers might find offensive and contrary to the company’s message.

“The messenger is part of the message,” Petrocelli said. “Imagine she made comments that she hates Jews or that there was no Holocaust.”

A final ruling in the lawsuit has not been made yet. Disney has not publicly commented on Garnett’s decision on Wednesday not to dismiss the lawsuit.

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