From a young age my mother told me: “Money is not everything in life; the most important thing is to be a Mensch!” I almost instantly understood about money and its magical power that could turn a piece of old printed paper into chocolate candies covered in gold paper, or allowed me to go to the Great Circus that often visited our town. As for the meaning of Mensch, my mother promised that when I grew up, I would understand.
You’ve heard the expression that a picture can paint a thousand words, but for those of you who are not familiar with the Yiddish language – a word can paint ten pictures. Later in life, true to her word, I encountered situations that taught me about being a Mensch: opportunities for good deeds, generosity, kindness, integrity, morality, taking responsibility, defending the weak, fighting for what’s right, and many other little things that would make my life and others’, easier and enjoyable – or miserable. Later, I tried to pass on this wisdom to my children, only to realize they would have to discover it for themselves.
Like my father, I had always loved working with my hands: for 6 years I maintained the fighter jets in the Israeli Air Force, then I worked in the technology sector, and finally owned a printing and packaging business. When we moved to the Okanagan, I realized I missed chewing on a good, crusty, crunchy bread with a soft, open and airy crumb inside that would be tasty enough to be eaten all by itself. I couldn’t find such a loaf anywhere in Penticton, so I set out to see if I could make one for myself, and my passion for baking was born. . .
Many out of town customers tell me that in their larger urban centres (or even in smaller places on Vancouver Island), people line up at the local artisan baker to grab a loaf of crusty bread before it all disappears. Sadly, I’ve been waiting for the folks in Penticton to discover the glory of eating fresh artisan bread. The French shop twice a day for a fresh baguette! For some reason, there aren’t many people here who share my love of that chewy crust and the flavour that artisan loaves are known for. I often jokingly tell my customers that I don’t know of any baker who drives a Mercedes. Let’s just say that I personally know of one who drives around in a ’93 Dodge Caravan with 440,128 km. on it.