By Stacey Dresner
SPRINGFIELD – Thirty-five years ago the late Sheldon Saffer, president of Kodimoh Synagogue at the time, asked Sam Pava to be a part of a new kashrut supervision group in town.
“After much deliberation, and against my better judgment, I must have said, ‘Yes.’ The rest is history,” Pava told a crowd at Congregation B’nai Torah on Dec. 17 gathered to honor him as he retires from his longtime service as president of the Springfield Vaad HaKashruth.
At the event, Pava’s son Moses lauded him for his hard work and dedication in ensuring kashrut in greater Springfield.
“He never compromised on the technicalities of Jewish law, but I think his real goal was not just to make our food kosher, but do so in a way that would make the entire Greater Springfield Jewish community kosher,” Moses Pava said.
As president of the Springfield Vaad HaKashruth, Pava said his work for the community was “pretty much 24/7,” making regular trips around Springfield, Upper Valley towns like Amherst, and down into Enfield, Conn. to check on the kosher food in supermarkets, bakeries, ice cream shops, coffee shops, caterers and cafeterias, like the UMass kosher kitchen.
But his son Moses said he wasn’t just checking to make sure ingredients were kosher.
“…He was there to offer his kind words, his gentle smile, his subtle humor, and above all his overriding love of Judaism.”
Samuel Pava was born 89 years ago in Springfield to Moses and Fannie Halperin Pava. Both were born in Russia and came to the U.S. as children. Fannie’s father and grandfather were rabbis. Moses was one of the founders of Kodimoh Synagogue in Springfield (now Congregation B’nai Torah). Sam, the youngest of four brothers, was active at Kodimoh, participating in the choir at 10 years old.
He later attended the Hampden College of Pharmacy in Chicopee (now Western New England College’s school of pharmacy) and after serving in the U.S. Army in Japan during and after World War II, he was a pharmacist in Springfield and Holyoke for 50 years.
At Sheldon Saffer’s instigation, Pava became the first president of the Vaad.
“We had to get people who are interested in kashrut. The whole thing was to spread kashrut to the population,” explained Pava. “We had to get providers…we did have butchers downtown. The first supermarket that came on was Waldbaum’s on Belmont Avenue – that was one of our first acquisitions. Of course Kenny Abrahams was involved with that so that was a natural. He pushed it. He was very interested in kashrut.”
In those days, Pava recalls, he and Dr. Philip Miller would go with him on his rounds to visit kosher food providers, checking for any problems with kashrut.
“We had a regular route where you saw people at specified periods. Some people every month, some people every two months. Some people twice a year, depending on the business,” he said.
The Pava household would also be on the receiving end of countless phone calls from both people in the community and kosher food providers asking “Is this kosher, is that kosher? Beverly would field them when I was not around,” he said, referring to his devoted wife of 65 years.
While retiring from the Vaad HaKashruth, Pava continues to serve as the Gabbai at Congregation B’nai Torah in Longmeadow. And he remains dedicated to kashrut.
“Kosher is a very important part of our religion,” he said. “It is in the ‘good book’…This is the law and I thought it was a pretty good law. It teaches self-control among other things. There are so many things you can say for it.”
For many years Pava wrote the monthly column, “Kosher Korner” which ran in the Jewish Ledger. His love of kashrut is evident in the closing of one Kosher Korner from several years ago.
“We have it within our grasp to follow
G-d’s dictates, or to ignore them,” he wrote. “For our own good, and the good of mankind, let us observe the law of Kashrut and enjoy the fruits of G-d’s benevolence.”
CAP: Sam Pava with the plaque he received in honor of his retirement from the Springfield Vaad HaKashruth.