> Day in Jewish History

Sivan 10

January 6, 2010 | by

Yahrtzeit of Kalonymus Z. Wissotzky, a famous Russian Jewish philanthropist who died in 1904. Wissotzky once owned the tea concession for the Czar's entire military operation. Since the Czar's soldiers numbered in the millions and tea drinking was a daily Russian custom, this concession made Wissotzky very rich. One day, Wissotzky was approached by the World Zionist Organization to begin a tea business in Israel. He laughed at this preposterous idea: the market was small, the Turkish bureaucracy was strict, and tea leaves from India were too costly to import. Jewish leaders persisted, and Wissotzky started a small tea company in Israel. After his death, the tea company passed to his heirs. Then in 1917, the communists swept to power in Russia, seizing all of the Wissotzky company's assets. The only business left in their possession was the small tea company in Israel. The family fled Russia, built the Israeli business, and today Wissotzky is a leading brand of tea in Israel, with exports to countries worldwide -- including Russia.

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