Marshall Shapiro – Jewish Tribune
The reality of a sweet new year came early to the Jewish children of the Niagara region when more than a dozen toddlers and teenagers and their parents stood transfixed in front of a working, glassed-in beehive as Rebbitzen Perla Zaltzman connected honey with Rosh Hashanah for them.
For the past five years, Perla and her husband, Rabbi Zalman Zaltzman, a young dynamo and head of Chabad Niagara, have gathered Jews from throughout the Niagara Region, from the Burlington Skyway to the Falls, in celebrating their heritage. On a recent summery Sunday morning they came from Thorold, St. Catharines, the Falls, Vineland, Campden and throughout the peninsula to a high school gym in Beamsville, in the heart of wine-making country.
The Zaltzmans had invited Mrs. Parker, owner of Charlie Bee Honey, to bring one of her 7,000 colonies and explain how bees manufacture honey.
“Raw honey is kosher,” Perla explained, “because it is not an animal product; the bees are just the tools.” Mrs. Parker demonstrated the “bee dance” by which bees communicate to tell their co-workers where to find pollen. “You wiggle, wiggle, wiggle” to describe the distance, then you turn right or left to show the direction.
As fascinating as it was to the kids, it was the parents who were captivated by the bees and filled the air with questions. The connection with the hope for a sweet new year was completed when out came samples of honey and honey cake.
Chabad Niagara has grown from a small handful of already observant Jews to include the entire community.
Rabbi Zaltzman now has a daily minyan of more than 50 worshippers and has attracted kosher food services operating mainly during the tourist season in Niagara Falls. His sushi events and barbecues bring Jews from both sides of the border and local politicians.