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A Life of Dairy and Davening

Bill Berman is an anomaly among South Florida’s dairymen, few of whom start their day putting on tefillin

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This piece was originally posted on June 7, 2011. Saturday night marks the start of Shavuot, and one way we celebrate is by enjoying all things dairy. To learn more about the milk that is at the heart of this holiday, Tablet Magazine visited Bill Berman’s farm in Okeechobee, Fla., which produces about 18,000 gallons of milk daily. Berman is an Orthodox Jew with deep roots in the cow business; his grandfather and great-grandfather were cattle dealers in Germany. In this audio slideshow, Berman takes us through a day on the farm, from morning prayers and a trip to the maternity barn, where about 20 calves are delivered each day, to a livestock auction and a minyan at the Palm Beach synagogue he attends.

Produced byAri Daniel Shapiro. Photography by Amanda Kowalski.

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J Carpenter says:

Berman the Dairyman, Berman the mensch: thank you for the tour, blessings on you and your business; may you live long enough to see one (or all) of those grand-children follow you in both pathways, of business and of faith.

This was beautiful and very touching. Thank you for introducing me to this special person!

My grandparents and greatgrandparents were also in the cattle business
in Germany. They also came to the USA in 1938.
They are from Holzhausen.

Wendy says:

Thank you Tablet- this was wonderful. I’ll be thinking of Bill Berman when I dig into my blintzes tomorrow! Chag Sameach.

Don Borzak says:

Wonderful article, sent to me here in Chicago by my daughter-in-law, Deena Borzak. We were fortunate to have visited the Berman farm several years ago with our Florida Borzak family and this article just adds to the wonderful tour we had.

Pat Bidol Padva says:

I am currently the director of Jewish Early Childhood Education but when Bob Graham was the governor of Florida, I mediated the future land, water and evironmental uses for the Kissimmee River and many of the Okeechobee farmers participated in the mediation.
It was touching for me to see Bill Berman’s dairy farm and to see him davening at the Palm Beach synagogue, shabbat shalom, Pat

we need more Jewish farmers and less Jewish loiyahs!

Darin L. Steinkey says:

This is gorgeous. What a great look into something I had never thought about. Thank you Ari and Amanda.


The Beet-Eating Heeb finds it sad that the reporter, Bill
Berman himself, and the other commenters are all unconsciously blind to such
inhumane cruelty.


What we just saw was standard operating procedure in today’s
factory farms:


Baby calves are immediately separated from their mothers,
causing terrible emotional distress for both mother and calf.


Dairy cows are kept confined in tiny stalls in which they
can barely move.


Then when they are no longer economically useful to the
dairy farmer, they are sold for slaughter, even though they have lived less
than half of their natural life.


The Beet-Eating Heeb finds it pathetically ironic that this
piece was posted under the heading “Observance.” Certainly the mitzvah
of Tzaar Baalei Hayim is being wholly ignored.


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A Life of Dairy and Davening

Bill Berman is an anomaly among South Florida’s dairymen, few of whom start their day putting on tefillin

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