Portland company provides North American connection to Tsfat
By Deborah Moon Seldner
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As the nationwide distributor of Safed Candles, Portland provides a direct link between Tsfat, Israel, and North America, according to Harley Felstein, manager of Apex Trading, the wholesale arm of Massada, the Israel-products store in Hillsdale.
Felstein said he speaks with Safed Candle Factory Manager Naor Levy every couple of days. He said Levy spoke with him from a bomb shelter on the first day Tsfat was bombed. Two days later, Levy told Felstein he had decided to temporary close the candle factory and evacuate to the south.
Felstein said about half of Apex's order of Hanukkah candles have already been shipped to Portland, but the other half were scheduled to be made in July and August. He said Levy hopes to be able to reopen the factory and complete the order soon.
Felstein and his partner Stan Davis sent out an e-mail update to their customer base and have been astounded by the outpouring of support for Israel they have received in return. He said Apex has received at least 50 e-mails from individuals and gift stores saying they are concerned about and praying for Israel.
He said he received one email from a non-Jewish shop that said, "We ? continue to lift up our voices in faith and praise that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel has his mighty hand and outstretched arm on Israel and it's people. ? We know God will not allow Israel's foot to slip."
Rachel Paul, Massada manager, said the sentiments expressed by customers at the store in recent days recall the support for Israel and Israeli merchants that were the basis of creating the store during the Second Intifada.
"People connect with the idea to support merchants," said Paul. "So people buy stuff so the money goes to Israel."
Massada was founded in December 2003 in response to the success of Shop Israel Fairs in Portland and around the country.
"There is a need for the Israeli economy to have this," said Felstein when the store opened, pointing to the sharp decline in tourism to Israel during the ongoing violence at that time. "I think people understand the need to help Israel at this time."
Paul said there has been a definite return to that sentiment during the current crisis.
She said many people, both Jews and Christians, who have never been to the store before are coming in to support Israel in the only way they can think to help. She said she is trying to find out if Massada can be a source for purchasing Israel Bonds to provide even more support.
Contact Massada at 503-546-9137. The store is located at 6351 S.W. Capitol Hwy.