Jew of the Week: Otto Orkin

Otto the Orkin Man

Otto Orkin (1885-1968) was born in Latvia to a traditional Jewish family that immigrated to Pennsylvania when he was three years old. The family settled on a farm, and Otto’s job as a child was to make sure the rats didn’t eat their stocks. The neighbours soon heard of his success, and asked the young Otto to take care of their pests, too. At 14, Otto borrowed 50 cents from his parents to invest in a supply of arsenic, and began experimenting to find the perfect blend of rat poison. He spent hours in attics and granaries watching rat behaviour and carefully studying them. The young Orkin became an expert at rat control, and began selling his services door-to-door. At 16, he founded his own pest control company, Orkin The Rat Man. He continued growing the business, travelling across the country to sell his revolutionary formulas and methods. In 1909, he found that Richmond, Virginia did not have a pest exterminator and settled there. In 1925, Orkin’s company won its first government contract to get rid of rats for the Army Corps of Engineers. During this time, he found that Atlanta, Georgia also did not have an exterminator, and soon moved his headquarters there, renaming the business to Orkin Exterminating Company. It was also during this time that he introduced the diamond-shaped logo now famous across North America. By 1930, Orkin had 13 permanent branches in 8 states, and fifteen years later 82 branches in 14 states. During World War II, Orkin played a huge role in assisting the war effort by providing chemicals and pest control, and making sure that over 150 military installations were sanitary. The company continued to grow, and by 1950 had over 1000 employees operating in 20 states. This rapid growth was partly fueled by Orkin’s famous generosity. He paid very good salaries and all of his managers made more money than he did himself. It was also fueled by great marketing, especially the popular “Otto the Orkin Man” TV commercial – thought to be the most recognizable jingle in America at the time. Unfortunately, Orkin’s sons soon sought to wrest control of the company from him. He eventually gave in and sold his shares. The company went downhill after that, and was bought out by Rollins Inc. in 1964. Orkin continued to be a generous philanthropist until his last days. Beloved by all those who knew him, one employee said of Orkin that he had “a singleness of purpose, a goal he never lost sight of, and he worked tirelessly and diligently to achieve that goal. His was the epitome of the American Dream we hear so much about. His contribution to the industry is inestimable.”

A Kabbalistic Look at Pregnancy and Abortion

Words of the Week

It is true that it is not a good situation for us, but when did we have it better? Now the oppressor is Hitler, once it was Haman, Pharaoh, Torquemada, Purishkevich—only the names change, but the suffering remains the same. It is possible that the troubles in the past were greater. When we compare the entire Jewish situation in the world to certain eras in Jewish history, it will emerge that Jews are now doing much better than in certain difficult eras of the past. There is no reason to despair.
– Rabbi Yosef Rosenthe Rogatchover Gaon

Jew of the Week: Rafi Eitan

The Spy Who Caught Eichmann And Obtained Israel’s Uranium

Rafi Eitan

Rafael Eitan (1926-2019) was born in a kibbutz to Jewish-Russian immigrants that settled in the Holy Land three years earlier. He studied at an agricultural school, as well as at the London School of Economics. His first foray into the military came at just age 12 when he joined the Haganah to defend his kibbutz from Arab attacks. Upon graduating from high school, Eitan was promoted to the Palmach, the Haganah’s special forces. He was part of a team that worked tirelessly to bring Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors to Israel. In 1946, he participated in the raid on the Atlit detention centre, where the British held many “illegal” Jewish immigrants. In one famous mission, Eitan was tasked with destroying the British radar system on Mount Carmel, which they used to track ships carrying Jews. Eitan reached the radar undetected by climbing through sewer systems (earning him the nickname “Rafi the Stinker”) and successfully blew it up. He was later injured in a mine explosion and lost most of his hearing. Eitan was further wounded in Israel’s Independence War. Following this, he became an intelligence officer, first for Shin Bet, and then for Mossad. During this time, he planned, coordinated, and perfectly executed Operation Finale, the mission to capture Adolf Eichmann, then hiding in Argentina. Following this, Eitan was a secret agent in Europe, where his team captured weapons shipments from Germany to Egypt. In what is certainly his most infamous mission, Eitan visited the US Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation in 1968 disguised as a chemist. Shortly after, it was found that the lab was missing as much as 272 kilograms of highly enriched uranium. Despite many investigations, no evidence was found, and no charges could be laid, though many believe that Eitan secured the uranium for Israel’s nuclear program. (The incident is referred to as the “Apollo Affair”.) Eitan retired in 1972 and started a business raising tropical fish. He was asked by the Israeli government to return to work in 1978 to head a counter-terrorism group. During this time he helped plan Operation Opera in which Israel destroyed Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor. Meanwhile, Eitan worked closely with MI6 counter-terror, and helped them find and eliminate a number of high-profile IRA terrorists. (In response to this, the IRA put out a contract to have Eitan assassinated!) One of the counter-terrorism intelligence agents in Eitan’s portfolio was Jonathan Pollard, who was later exposed and arrested. Eitan was criticized for abandoning Pollard, and resigned over the incident (though he maintains he had an escape plan for Pollard that the spy didn’t follow). Eitan later ran the Israel Chemicals Corporation until retiring at age 67. Eitan wasn’t done yet. He partnered with a few others to start a business in Cuba. The firm, BM Group, has grown to become an important developer in the country, and has built Havana’s World Trade Center and its Holocaust Memorial. After its success on agricultural projects in Cuba (winning it a medal from the Cuban government), BM has spread across Latin America. In 2006, Eitan was asked to run for Knesset under the Gil Pensioner’s party and, despite projections, won a whopping 7 seats. He served as a parliamentarian until 2009, at which point (being 83 years old) he retired for good. Eitan continued to advise his and other governments, and spent much of his time sculpting (he produced over 100 pieces). Sadly, the renowned spymaster passed away last week.

The 7 Prophetesses of Judaism

Words of the Week

It’s in the Muslim consciousness that the land first belonged to the Jews. It doesn’t matter if the Jews were exiled 500 years or 2000 years, the Holy Land, as mentioned in Quran belongs to Moses and his people, the Jews.
– Professor Khaleel Mohammed