January 17, 2011

Transitions: Kosher Industry Mourns a Superstar: Yossi Pressburger

 Brooklyn…by Menachem Lubinsky…It was nearly 25 years ago that the Kedem Wine Company realized that it was on the verge of major expansion. Its introduction of quality kosher wines beyond the traditional sweet wines used for sacramental purposes was beginning to pay off. The challenge was to develop a top notch sales force that could penetrate a growing demand for kosher food and wines. David Herzog of Kedem took a quick look around in the lobby of his Williamsburg, Brooklyn plant at the seasoned salesmen who applied for the sales position, but his eyes focused instead on a 23-year old yeshiva student, he recalled during a tearful eulogy at the funeral of Yossi Pressburger who died of a massive heart attack at the age of 48 during a sales trip to Detroit. Pressburger was remembered as a “model” husband and father of seven and as a community activist for whom “no task was too small or menial.” Recalling his penchant for detail that included tending to the needs of his shul and its members,” Rabbi Eliezer Ginsburg wailed: “Where are you Yossi?”

Nathan Herzog recalled how Yossi quickly became an important ingredient in the company’s growth. “He opened so may doors for us, not only in wines but in foods as well.” Herzog continued: “While he was our VP of Sales, there was not an area in the company that he did not play a major role in.” News of Pressburger’s untimely death shocked the entire industry. Yakov Yarmove of SuperValu who recalled taking many joint business trips with his friend Yossi, said: “My heart is torn and crying inside for this most untimely loss.” Sid Roth of Michigan Wine & Liquor, who was one of the last people to see Yossi, expressed “shock and disbelief” offering to do what he can “to help.” It was his integrity, strong character and perpetual smile that made Yossi such a popular figure in the kosher food industry. A friend said: “He had this unusual trait of making everyone feel comfortable. No wonder that he could sell almost everything.” This sentiment permeated throughout a packed funeral chapel where the tears for a salesman that many called a “prince” was filled with a grief seldom seen in the community. As the stunned crowd of over 500 people bid Yossi Pressburger a final farewell, the kosher food industry mourned the loss of “one of its best.”