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Lubavitch of Iowa is under the directorship of Rabbi Yossi and his wife Chana Jacobson. Maccabee’s Deli, founded as a project of the Judaic Resource Center of Iowa offers traditional kosher deli fare. Nowhere outside of New York do people expect to get hot pastrami on rye the Jewish way, Well, we’ve got it.
The deli also has made fans for offering kosher salami. “It’s a big thing for a lot of people, it has a good, clean flavor.”
The Jacobson Family
Message From The Rabbi
the small city of just a few thousand people in the northeast corner of the state. Chabad runs a synagogue, yeshivah and Jewish day school in town, and on Friday, local emissaries and rabbinic students parked themselves alongside the bike route and distributed blessings, bottled water, and Shabbat candles.
They also asked Jewish men and boys over the age of 13 to put on tefillin.
Rabbi Aron Schimmel and Rabbi Mendel Raices, directors of Chabad of North East Iowa, greeted some of the 20,000 riders with other rabbis and community members, including 50 students from the local Gan Israel day camp. “We are stopping people who are taking a break from the race asking them if they are Jewish,” the rabbi said a few hours before the start of Shabbat. “We met Jews who have never worn tefillin before.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Tefillin Campaign, started by the Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—before the start of the Six-Day War in June 1967.
Schimmel, who has lived in Postville for 20 years—home to about 60 Jewish families—said in all that time, bike riders in the event, coordinated by the Des Moines Register, had never pedaled through town before. He said people seemed a little surprised to see the men in their black coats and hats in the heat of the afternoon.
“We had people asking who we were. It’s a bit unusual seeing a bunch of Orthodox Jews in the middle of the cornfields,” he acknowledged. But the cyclists weren’t surprised to learn that most in the Jewish community were drawn to Postville by jobs at the Agri Star Meat and Poultry plant, which has a large kosher division.
The rabbi estimated that a few hundred people interacted with the local Jewish community during the race. In addition to offering tefillin, the rabbis played Chassidic tunes and even danced with some of the riders. “To have so many people stopping by in this small town, I never dreamed that such a thing could happen,” said Schimmel.
In the middle of a conversation, one man mentioned that it was his father’s yahrtzeit, the anniversary of his passing. So the rabbis gathered together a minyan—10 Jewish men required for a public prayer quorum—so that he could recite the Mourner’s Kaddish.
A deli stand also offered kosher food to riders. One person who initially turned the down the request to wrap tefillin recharged himself with a sandwich—and changed his mind.
“You see what kosher food can do?” quipped Schimmel. “Much more than all our words!”