Meet the Orthodox Jewish Beekeeper Who Sent 1000 Pounds of Honey Before Rosh Hashanah – Jewish Philanthropy

With less than a week before Rosh Hashanah, Rabba Amalia Haas has been, well, busy like a bee.

All day Wednesday, Bee Awesome’s CEO, or “head bee whisperer,” was packing and preparing shipments of honey in time for the Jewish New Year. Between the in-person and online sales this year, she’s sold about 1,000 pounds of honey.

For the 53-year-old beekeeper, part-time community rabbi, chaplain and Jewish educator from the heavily Jewish suburb of Cleveland, Beachwood, Ohio, Rosh Hashanah is predictably the busiest time of the year. “It’s like people running a haunted house in October,” she said eJewish Philanthropy.

“Everyone, from the most untethered to the most orthodox, is getting pretty obsessed with bees and honey,” she said, adding half-jokingly, “Jews don’t buy honey after Rosh Hashanah.”

Haas told eJP that she received many orders from nonprofits to give to their boards and donors. She is proud that her treasure helps Jewish community leaders show appreciation.

Haas has been keeping bees for over 12 years. She began by leading a pluralistic Jewish gardening program and developing and teaching a national garden plan. “I kept noticing the bees and the pollinators in the garden at that time,” she told eJP.

When she learned she was pregnant with twins, she wanted a way to continue her work in environmental education closer to home.

“It wasn’t all planned. I was just looking for something to keep my hand in ecology while nursing these twins,” Haas said. “So I got a beehive and unexpectedly fell in love and totally fascinated with the bees.

From there, she became curious about the Jewish connection to bees. Her website notes that an oft-quoted passage from the Psalms says that the Torah is “sweet than honey, than the dripping of the comb.”

“I really started digging into Jewish sources about the bees, and thinking about how the Jewish calendar is reflected in the cycle of beekeeping and honey production, and I developed a lot of educational programs that focused on that,” she said. In addition to beekeeping, she teaches classes on “What’s Jewish about beekeeping and what’s ‘bee-like’ about Jews.”

This year, beekeepers have had to deal with declining honey production. Canadian beekeepers lost an average of 45% of their bees in the past year due to extreme weather and an increase in parasitic mites, Canadian TV station CTV reported. ForbesClimate change appears to be causing losses in the US for similar reasons.

Haas produces honey on a small scale and says its experience is not representative of national or global trends. She manages four to eight hives in her apiary at home, and another 10 to 20 hives in another property. She is what is known as a “sideline beekeeper,” a category for beekeepers who produce more than hobbyists, but less than large-scale businesses.

Still, Haas’ hives have been “definitely” affected by both mites and climate change, she said.

“If we get too much rain in the spring, the bees won’t be able to fly,” she said. “My beautiful population of bees stands at the entrance to the hive and kind of says, ‘When will the rain stop?'” The harsh conditions limit their ability to pollinate and produce honey, which serves as both food and insulation for the bees. bees serve.

“Clearly, the sages never envisioned a world where there wouldn’t be enough flowers to sustain nature and natural systems,” Haas said. “But if they had, they would have legislated that humans are responsible for maintaining enough wildlife for bees and other creatures to survive.”

But Haas said selling honey is just part of her job to give her fellow Jews a happy new year. “I’m a rabba and a Jewish educator and that’s a big part of my job, and [I] also work around the Torah, bees, sustainability,” she said. “In other words, I operate as an environmental educator and not as a full-time beekeeper.”

She sees her role as “educating the Jewish and wider community to live in a more sustainable way.”

“The more people manage their land in an organic and sustainable way, the easier it is for all measures,” she said. “It’s better for human health, the environment, it’s better for the bees. It’s a win-win-win.” .

She added: “It takes 2 million flowers to produce 1 pound of honey. So when people dip their apple in the honey, they pick up about 100,000 flowers worth of nectar.”

In other words, celebrating a sweet New Year this year and in the future depends on flowers — and bees.

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