Tag Archives: Ohio

Jew of the Week: Nate Ebner

The Only Super Bowl Champion at the Olympics

Ebner at the Rio Olympics (Credit: Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)

Ebner at the Rio Olympics (Credit: Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)

Nate Ebner (b. 1988) was born and raised in Ohio, where his father was the principal of Springfield’s Temple Sholom Hebrew Sunday school. Ebner’s father was a fan of rugby, and introduced his son to the sport at an early age. At 17, Ebner became the youngest player ever to make the US national team. He was also the MVP of the under-19 and under-20 teams. During his third year of studies at Ohio State University, Ebner decided to try out for the football team, and soon became one of their best players. He was named “most inspirational player”, won several awards, and was given a football scholarship for his final, senior year. In 2012, Ebner was drafted by the NFL’s New England Patriots and signed a four-year contract, which he recently extended for another two years. In 2014, he won his first Super Bowl with the team. That year, Patriot’s coach Bill Belichik described him as being in the “top-five percent all time of players that I’ve coached.” Meanwhile, rugby has returned to the Olympics after some 90 years, and Ebner got permission from the Patriots to try out for the team. Having not played rugby professionally for a long time, his odds for making it were put at just 10 to 20 percent. Surprising everyone, Ebner made the team and is now in Rio. That makes him the only NFL player (and Super Bowl champion) to participate in the Olympics. Ebner has been described as a “heat-seeking missile” on the field, and having a “passion for being great”. His main inspiration is his father, who was tragically murdered in a robbery eight years ago. Ebner said of his father: “He taught me the importance of being Jewish… and conduct myself always in a proper manner… My dad was my only role model… There wasn’t anyone else I wanted to be like more than him.”

Words of the Week

The Messiah’s coming is not simply the redemption of the Jews… but a general change in the entire world… we will all recognize that God encompasses past, present, and future as one.
Menachem Mendel Schneerson, The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Jews of the Week: Dov Behr and Bernard Manischewitz

Kosher Food Revolutionaries

Rabbi Manischewitz (Image Source: Geni.com)

Rabbi Manischewitz
(Credit: Geni.com)

Dov Behr Abramson (1857-1914) was born to a religious Russian-Jewish family in Lithuania. He studied at the famous Telz Yeshiva. After becoming a rabbi he sought to immigrate to the United States. Some say he was only able to do so after buying the passport of a man that had passed away. The man’s name was Manischewitz, and the name stuck. Others say the Rabbi simply made up the name when arriving in America. Either way, he settled with his family in Cincinnati, Ohio. When the holiday of Passover came around, Manischewitz saw that the small Jewish community did not have much kosher matzah, so he began baking them in his basement. His matzahs soon became famous far beyond Cincinnati, and to keep up with demand, Manischewitz opened up a factory where matzahs were made by gas-powered machines. This generated a lot of controversy, as most rabbis at the time believed matzahs had to be hand-made. Nonetheless, machine-made matzahs were soon deemed kosher, and the Manischewitz brand grew ever larger. Manischewitz matzahs were also revolutionary because they were the first to be made in square shapes to simplify manufacturing, packaging, and shipping (traditional matzahs are round). Rabbi Manischewitz passed away in 1914 and left the company to his five sons, who went public in 1923. In the 1940s, the company moved beyond matzahs and expanded into other kosher foods like soups, crackers, and most famously, sweet wines.

Bernard Manischewitz

The Rabbi’s grandson, Bernard Manischewitz (1913-2003), expanded the company even further during his 26 years as president, making it a truly international brand. By 1990, the company had over $1.5 billion in annual sales and was producing everything from gefilte fish to processed meats and borscht. However, there was no willing successor in the family to take over, so Bernard sold it to a private equity firm. He credited Manischewitz with ushering in the age of mass-produced, processed kosher foods, which he called “the biggest change in Jewish domestic life since Biblical times.” Today, Manischewitz is still America’s largest producer of kosher foods, and the world’s largest producer of matzahs.

Words of the Week

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
– Mark Twain