By Rabbi Shimon Emlen – Seattle, Washington
Car Menorahs, public lightings and Olive Press workshops, a Shliach’s plate is full this time of year (not just with Latkes and doughnuts).
This year, with the forest fires and drought in California, there was a new challenge ahead; no olives… “It was a really bad season” said one farm, “we already used whatever we had for oil” said another. After many hours of calling and emailing every olive farm I could find, I was left with no fresh olives for the 8 Olive Press workshops I already had booked.
Other Shluchim I spoke with were also struggling and the only advice I could get was to use a bucket of already processed olives for the workshop. This was a disappointing last resort. I had almost given up hope this last Sunday. But “Hashem’s salvation comes in the blink of an eye.”
That Sunday I called Rabbi Yechezkel Rapoport, Shliach to Shoreline, Washington, to invite his daughter to a Tzivos Hashem Chidon learning event.
He responded, “we would come, but we’re in California, driving back from the Simxa Shabbaton for Russian Jews. A little too far.” (A mere 18-hour drive)
I remembered that they were in ‘olive country’, so I asked, “can you pick me some olives?”
Two days later I was holding a bucket of fresh olives, enough to cover all of my scheduled workshops. Rabbi Rapoport later said that when they arrived at the Bondolio Olive Farm the farmer told them that there were only ten trees which had not yet been picked. The entire family got to work harvesting these holy olives.
The kids were learning on Shluchim Online School en route and took a break to join the efforts. When I offered to pay them for what I usually pay for olives, they firmly refused with a smile. Hashem had turned my disappointment into joy and also saved me from olive purchasing expenses.
Thank you to my fellow Shluchim who went out of their way for me and for all the children who will benefit from the Olive Press workshop this year!