A Gem. A Hope. A Blessing.
Please join in the tribute for Hope Maissner this coming Sunday morning, Rosh Chodesh Sivan. We will honour her many additional contributions to Holy Blossom Temple over 41 years. These are the words delivered at a Chanukah party in our Schwartz/Reisman Atrium in celebration of the reopening of our Judaica Shop and in honour of three women who have created and sustained it for decades — Penina Margolese aleha ha Shalom, Hope Maissner and Mary Seldon.
Each one unique. Each loves and leads Holy Blossom Temple in her own way. Each chose the Judaica Shop as a vehicle to express her devotion to our congregation.
Penina’s most lasting contribution to the Judaica Shop, I believe, was her INSISTANCE that there be a shop in the plans for the renewed Holy Blossom. She made it a personal mission to have a Judaica Shop written onto the map. The blueprint placed this shop in prime real estate thanks to Penina’s loud and clear voice. Today we remember Penina’s devotion to Sisterhood and to Holy Blossom. We miss her dearly and when we see the success of the Judaica Shop today we thank her for her leading voice. She would have been so proud. I can picture her minding the store, with a smile that shows a little mischief and a lot of love. Penina means gem. She was a gem of a human being. We miss her and we have her to thank for this gleaming gem of a shop today.
Hope. Without Hope there might be a shop, but the shelves would be empty. Hope founded Tikvah Judaica. With business savvy, she made the careful selections of inventory. In the early years, I believe, she went to trade shows and brought back beautiful items of Judaica from Israel every time she traveled. Her keen eye and business smarts made the shop a shop. She kept up on the latest trends, made sure there was a range of price points for every shopper, and came up with a business plan that benefitted Sisterhood and the Temple at large. Hope is Hope! Tikvah! In an age when most Judaica Shops have been replaced by online shopping, we need Hope! Hope Maissner’s vision and no-nonsense business know-how will ensure our success as we write the next chapter in the life of this shop.
Mary Seldon, our Temple Warden. Among the many roles Mary plays at Holy Blossom, she has been the face of the Judaica Shop for years. She is the one who polishes the silver and dusts the crystal, and makes sure the shop and everything in it shines. More, than that, Mary makes the sale! Never pushy, but steady and secure — Mary Seldon is our secret weapon. She invites people in with her unassuming ways; she draws them closer just with her warm presence. Even people who have no reason to come into the shop, wander in, because there is something irresistible about Mary. She’s like a magnet. And Mary’s a good listener, so she gets to know the shopper, makes them feel cared for, because she truly does care. She makes gentle suggestions; she offers encouraging words and then CHACHING! The sale is made! She seals the deal and the next thing the passerby knows, out comes the credit card. But it isn’t about the sale that matters, of course. Mary knows it’s all about connection. Her Hebrew name is Bracha, which means blessing. Mary Seldon is a blessing to our congregation. She reminds us to slow down – to take time for connection, for storytelling, for listening, to discover a beautiful Jewish object that brings joy to both the giver and the receiver and can become nothing less than a vehicle for Jewish continuity.
Penina, a gem.
Mary, a blessing.
Each has poured herself and her heart into this Judaica Shop, because she understands that it actually has the potential to provide something very important. Each understands that more than our shoppers are shopping for something beautiful, they are searching for something meaningful. They want a precious thing to make a precious memory. They yearn for a pretty object to make an impact on a Jewish home, to teach a Jewish family the joys of Shabbat and Holy Days, the joys of the life cycle and marking milestones. They want a special gift to express gratitude. They want a ritual object to be an educational tool to teach and learn the ways and rhythms of Jewish life. They want something that may even one day become a family heirloom.
Penina, a gem.
Mary, a blessing.
This glistening and colourful corner of the Renewed Holy Blossom Temple IS a gem; it IS a symbol of our hope for the future; and yes, it IS a blessing that sustains our people – L’dor VaDor.
We are grateful to all the women who have sat at the counter, quietly contemplating the mysteries of the links in the chain – from grandmothers to mothers to daughters – making Jewish life beautiful and strong, precious and simple, delicate and enduring, fragile and solid, traditional and creative, old and ever-new.
Mazel Tov! Yishar Koch’chen! And Kol HaKavod, everyone!