web analytics
April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



A Special Winery’s Special People

(L-R) Eli Sternzis, Roy Itzhaki and Dedi Ashkenazi at Tulip Winery. (Courtesy of Roy Itzhaki)

(L-R) Eli Sternzis, Roy Itzhaki and Dedi Ashkenazi at Tulip Winery. (Courtesy of Roy Itzhaki)

Share Button

JERUSALEM – Since he was a kid growing up in the town of Kiryat Tivan, Roy Itzhaki would regularly see them in the street, on their way to work, in coffee houses, as free as anyone else in the village to live their lives.

Though they live with a range of intellectual disabilities, these residents of the nearby residential center at Kfar Tikvah were as much a part of the community as the statue of war hero Alexander Zaid in the center of town.

So it seemed completely natural to Itzhaki to invite them, nearly a decade ago, to join him in a bold venture he was launching. That’s when the then-twenty-five-year-old IDF officer, fresh out of uniform, did something many considered crazy: he opened a winery.

Itzhaki recalls the well-meaning industry expert’s warning back then. “You seem like a nice young man so I’m going to give you some free advice. Don’t go into the wine business. Your chances for success are nil.”

“He was right in many ways,” an older and wiser Itzhaki says with a laugh, twirling the stem of a wineglass – filled with water. “It’s a bruising business: high pressure, high stakes and nearly impossible to break into. On paper our chances were nil.”

But having grown up in a family crazy about wine, and living in a part of Israel where wine grapes grow in abundance, Itzhaki forged on. First, he rented out grape arbors in both the Galilee and the Judean Hills, then his father the civil engineer led the renovation of an old cow shed into a tasting and sales room, and finally his mother suggested the name Tulip. The first year’s yield: 7,000 bottles.

From the very start the disabled workers were part of the fledgling winery’s team. Their home was a deserted kibbutz that had been transformed into a residential center for those with mental disabilities. It got its start in 1964 when Dr. Zigfrid Hirsch, a British philanthropist and Holocaust survivor, began rounding up mentally disabled people from across Israel, determined to give them the chance for a life of maximum normalcy and productivity. The result was Kfar Tikvah, Hebrew for “Village of Hope.”

Today some two hundred people with disabilities live in the village, and thirty of them work at Tulip. Itzhaki says he knew it was the right thing to employ them, but he admits his workforce took some getting used to.

“I kept asking myself, ‘What can I expect of them?’ ” he says. “How can I communicate with them? But within a day or two, I fell in love with these people.”

Tulip worker Nathan Can’ani listens with rapt attention to his boss during the telling of this story, which is in fact his story too, and every so often he interrupts the flow.

“I like to put the bottles on the machine,” he says with a wide grin. “I like that job.” Now 64, Can’ani has been with the winery full-time since its early days in 2003. Itzhaki says employees like Can’ani continue to amaze by dutifully performing “the repetitive work that would drive us crazy with its monotony…. But eight hours later they’re still so happy, still interested in every detail of the job and still doing excellent work.”

It was in 2006 that Itzhaki first approached the rabbinate.

“I could see that the only way to grow in this market is to be kosher,” he says. “That’s what the better hotels and restaurants across Israel require and it opens up the lucrative kosher export market, too.”

Another potential jump in sales comes on Rosh Hashanah and Pesach, when Israeli employers traditionally give their employees a bottle of kosher wine, says Itzhaki.

Yet Itzhaki’s employment of the disabled presented a significant roadblock to going kosher. Jewish law requires that every person who touches wine in any stage of its production must be observant of mitzvot – but Itzhaki’s disabled employees were not.

When one kashrut expert toured the plant on bottling day, he quickly sized up the situation.

“He told me our wine could be kosher, but first I would have to let them all go and hire new workers in their place,” Itzhaki recalls. “I told him, ‘I’m sorry. Here’s the door. I am not firing these people.’ ”

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “A Special Winery’s Special People”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Mock Eviction Notice shoved under the doors of students' rooms in predominantly Jewish NYU dorm by NYU SJP.
NYU Latest Site of Anti-Israel Mock Eviction Notices
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

More Articles from Deborah Fineblum
Fruchter-071312-Rice

But in Israel, because food packagers have two very different markets to please (and Sephardim outnumber Ashkenazim), the traditional Ashkenazi approach can be challenging.

(L-R) Eli Sternzis, Roy Itzhaki and Dedi Ashkenazi at Tulip Winery. (Courtesy of Roy Itzhaki)

JERUSALEM – Since he was a kid growing up in the town of Kiryat Tivan, Roy Itzhaki would regularly see them in the street, on their way to work, in coffee houses, as free as anyone else in the village to live their lives.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/a-special-winerys-special-people/2013/03/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: