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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘wine’

California Earthquake Wreaks Havoc at Chabad House

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The 6.1 earthquake that jolted northern California in the middle of the night Sunday upended furniture and scattered broken glass at the Napa Valley Chabad Jewish Center.

“It was very violent—not a gentle rolling quake, but more of a jolting traumatic experience that shocked us out of sleep at 3:20 a.m. and lasted for about half a minute, Rabbi Elchonon Tenenbaum told the Chabad website.

The rabbi, his wife and five children were not injured.

Tenenbaum said he waited outside with his neighbors until daybreak before going back into his home and Chabad center, where power had been lost, to survey the damage. Upended furniture and broken glass prevented him from accessing some rooms, including his office. A disaster recovery fund was quickly established for those wanting to help out.

“I went to check up on people in the area and found that they were in a similar situation,” he added. “Their houses are standing, but everything inside has been ruined. Thank God, this happened in the middle of the night when we were in our beds and not in other parts of our homes, where heavy bookcases fell over.”

The Chabad website reported, “Tenenbaum says that waking up in the middle of the night with his children screaming amid violent banging and shaking helped him picture what life must be like on a regular basis for people living in Israel, where Hamas has been firing rockets from Gaza for much of the summer.”

“It is really surreal,” he said. “There are some stores that are functioning as usual, and others have been completely destroyed for now. Some streets are buckled, and others are just fine. Some people have broken water mains or leaking gas pipes, and others do not.”

Many residents in the area, famous for its wineries, are crying over wine spilled from barrels that were broken from the earthquake.

The largest quake to hit the San Francisco area in 25 years, it caused several injuries, including three who are in critical condition, set off fires and knocked out power.

Napa’s downtown historical areas sustained irreparable damage.

Samaria Wines Receive International Acclaim in France Despite Boycotts

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

A French wine competition has awarded the Psagot Boutique Winery of Samaria gold stars for each of its eight wines that are a continuation of the Biblical tradition of wine production in Israel.

Established in 2003 by Yaakov and Naama Berg, the Psagot Boutique Winery is located in the Binyamin hills north of  Jerusalem ,which served as the cradle of wine-cultivation in Biblical times. The winery’s vineyards are planted on ancient limestone terraces at a height of 3,000 feet above sea level, alongside the community of Psagot, located south of Beit El and Ofra in Samaria.

Editorial note: A 2011 Washington Post article suggested that the labels on the Berg bottles say they are from Psagot, Israel, containing wine produced from vineyards planted on ancient limestone terraces in the “northern Jerusalem hills” and aged in French oak barrels stored in an ancient cave.

When asked, Berg “shrugged off suggestions that the labels mask the wine’s origin in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.”

“This is a geographical definition, not political,” he says of the reference to the Jerusalem hills. “When it comes to wine, the geographical area is critical, like Napa Valley” in California. As for the reference to Israel, Berg said that he is subject to Israeli law and that his winery is built on state land.

Energetic founder and chief executive of Psagot Winery Yaakov Berg.

Energetic founder and chief executive of Psagot Winery Yaakov Berg.

In keeping with ancient history of the location, the Psagot Winery ages its wines in an ancient underground cave that was used for wine-making in the Second Temple period. The cave was discovered in the process of establishing the winery in an area where remnants of ancient vineyards still exist.

The annual French wine competition is held by 1001degustations.com, a wine site that was created by French wine producers in order to promote international interest in wines and wine production.

The Psagot wines competed against scores of wines sent from wineries across the world including leading wine-producing countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Australia, USA, South Africa and Argentina.

All eight of the Psagot wine entries placed in the competition, either in first, second or third place, a special feat for the Israeli boutique winery according to the founder and CEO, Yaakov Berg. “We sent all our wines to the competition and they all received awards,” Berg told Tazpit News Agency.

Psagot’s red wines, Prat and Shiraz, were awarded gold stars as well as the Judges’ Favorite Award. The grading is based on the criteria of color, aroma and taste and is decided by a jury composed of wine producers, sommeliers, oenologists, and restaurant owners. On the competition’s website, Psagot’s Prat wine was noted for its pleasant fragrance and fruity flavor, while the judges described the Shiraz as an elegant delight.

The Psagot Winery has won accolades in Panama, England and the United States among other countries. Because the competitions use blind tasting of wines to prevent bias, the Psagot wines have an equal opportunity to win like all the other wines. “Otherwise, politics would just get in the way and our wines would have no chance,” Berg told Tazpit.

The Psagot winery produced 200,000 wine bottles this year following a successful grape harvest in 2012. Most of the bottles have been exported abroad to various countries.

“This recent win is special because it shows the world what the land of Israel is made of. Two-thousand years ago, our people produced good wines in the same region, and now we are back home doing the same,” Berg said.

Archaeologists Find Largest, Oldest Near East Wine Cellar in Israel

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Archaeologists have unearthed what may be the oldest — and largest — ancient wine cellar in the Near East, containing forty jars, each of which would have held fifty liters of strong, sweet wine, archaeologists from George Washington, Brandeis and Haifa universities announced late Friday,

The amount of wine estimated to have been stored in the cellar would fill approximately 3,000 modern bottles, and there probably are other wine cellars waiting to be unearthed.

The cellar was discovered in Tel Kabri, located near the northwestern coastal city of Nahariya and the site of a ruined palace of a sprawling Canaanite city in northern Israel and dating back to about 1,700 B.C.

The archaeological site is located near many of Israel’s modern-day wineries, such as Carmel Mizrachi in Zichron Yaakov, near Haifa.

“This is a hugely significant discovery — it’s a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in age and size,” said Eric Cline, chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of at The George Washington University.

He teamed up with excavation co-director Assaf Yasur-Landau, chair of the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa, co-directed the excavation. Andrew Koh, assistant professor of classical studies at Brandeis University, was an associate director.

Koh, an archaeological scientist, analyzed the jar fragments using organic residue analysis. He found molecular traces of tartaric and syringic acid, both key components in wine, as well as compounds suggesting ingredients popular in ancient wine-making, including honey, mint, cinnamon bark, juniper berries and resins. The recipe is similar to medicinal wines used in ancient Egypt for two thousand years.

Koh also analyzed the proportions of each diagnostic compound and discovered remarkable consistency between jars.

“This wasn’t moonshine that someone was brewing in their basement, eyeballing the measurements,” Koh noted. “This wine’s recipe was strictly followed in each and every jar.”

Yasur-Landau said, “The wine cellar was located near a hall where banquets took place, a place where the Kabri elite and possibly foreign guests consumed goat meat and wine.” The team discovered two doors leading out of the wine cellar—one to the south, and one to the west, and pending more digging in two years, it is assumed that  both doors probably lead to additional storage rooms.

A large part of the palace was destroyed approximately 3,600 years ago as a result of an earthquake or some other disaster, according to the archaeologists.

Dr. Koh told reporters that the presence of tartaric acid  means it was used for grape juice or wine, and several ingredients are the same as those found in winemaking recipes that previously have been found in ancient texts from ruins in what is now Syria,

Luscious grapes grown in Israel are recorded in the Biblical narrative of the “12 spies” who traveled from the Sinai Desert after the Exodus to the area of Hevron to report back to Moses what the People of Israel could expect when entering. The grapes and pomegranates that the spies brought back from the Hevron area supported the promise that Israel indeed is a land of “milk and honey,” but 10 of the spies also said that the local Canaanites were giants living in fortified cities. The report sent fear into the Children of Israel who rebelled against their mission, for they were punished to remain in the desert and die by the end of 40 years after leaving Egypt, except who were under the ago of 20 at the time of the Exodus and except for the two spies who tried to persuade the people that they could overcome Canaan with God’s help.

Fine wines have been become a booming industry in recent years, with the grapes of the southern Hevron Hills and the Golan Heights being used for dry wines considered some of the best in the world.

Havdalah at Ari’s

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

The Pew Report on the state of American Jewry has frightened us, but there is a way to counter the assimilation of the younger generation. I saw it on a recent Saturday night.

It was a post-Shabbos gathering in a beautiful modern building across the street from where I live in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. I had been told that 303 was the apartment number and I found the door unlocked. When I entered, a few young people who were chatting together welcomed me into the conversation. Lots of folding chairs were arranged around a table in the center of the room. While we talked, young men and women kept arriving, two of them with flutes, five with guitars, one with a harmonica as well as his guitar.

The wine, spices, and candle for Havdalah were placed on the table, and tea lights were lit. The singing began – slow end-of-Shabbos melodies.

I had heard singing from across the street several times at the end of Shabbos but hadn’t realized the singing was a prelude to Havdalah. I was told that this weekly gathering “happened organically,” that the secret was “the wonderful personality of Ari Levine.”

I thought I would visit the gathering for a minute or two but had not realized how moving it would be.

The gathering happened spontaneously, but not overnight. In order to be drawn to this shared experience, a person had to care about a meaningful Havdalah, and in order to participate in the singing one had to know the words. Everyone had either studied in a day school or been introduced to Torah life and learning through NCSY or the Manhattan Jewish Experience or a beginner’s minyan. A number of them had the good fortune to have spent a year or more learning in Israel.

Among the people I recognized were graduates of Yeshiva, Stern, and several other colleges. Some are in graduate school while others are at work as physical or occupational therapists, lawyers, teachers and a variety of other fields.

They have not led a cloistered existence. They have gone to El Salvador and Nicaragua on humanitarian missions to help build libraries in small towns where the natives had never seen a Jewish person before. They have visited Mexico, Russia, and communities across the United States and Canada to add their youthful ruach and joy to Shabbos and Yom Tov. One of the best examples of their idealism is a program my teen-aged niece participated in this summer; it’s called GIVE, and that is what the kids do –give help to poor communities and places devastated by hurricanes.

It takes a lifetime to be an observant Jew. For the fortunate children born in observant homes, it begins with modeh ani at two years old and progresses to berachos, to what’s involved in keeping a kosher home and in eating only kosher food, to the weekly preparation for Shabbos and the delightful atmosphere of enjoying time with family and friends without the intrusion of a cell phone, computer, or any other electrical device.

With every passing year I appreciate more profoundly the structure for life Hashem gave us in the Torah. We have to live in a community in order to attend shul on Shabbos; because we don’t drive on Shabbos or Yom Tov we can’t live in a suburb with acres of land around each home. This guarantees a closeness among members of the community: a new mother has meals brought to her and her family for several weeks after she gives birth; everyone is invited to a kiddush for a special occasion; when a death occurs, a chevrah kadishah prepares the body for burial and everyone in the community comes to console the mourners.

The movements that told their members they didn’t have to observe halacha and study Torah were misguided. Ismar Schorsch, the former chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, has commented on the mistake the Conservative movement made in ruling, when Jews began moving to the suburbs, that driving to shul was permitted on Shabbos. People drove to other places besides shul and Shabbos was destroyed.

It will not take commissions and studies and federation programs to change the situation in the United States. Anyone who wants to make up for all that he or she has missed can call NJOP to find a class in reading Hebrew, in basic mitzvos, an outline of Jewish history. One has to have an interest in finding out what is in the Torah, both Written and Oral.

A person has to intuit that ignorance is undoing his or her Jewishness. He has to feel repelled by vulgar bar mitzvah affairs and by the use of low-class terms in Yiddish; she has to sense that something is wrong when sitting shivah is limited to a few hours for a day or two and turns into a social event with food, drink, and raucous laughter.

A Jew will marry a Jew if he or she has experienced a meaningful Torah life and has learned Torah. The organizations exist to teach, and there are many observant people who will be happy to invite a newcomer for Shabbos and Yom Tov meals.

Everyone is welcome at the Havdalah at Ari’s; it is each person’s decision whether or not to come.

Rare 1,500-Year-Old Wine Press and Church Model found in Israel

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have unearthed a huge wine press and a ceramic model of a church dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries, the early-Byzantine period.

The huge wine press, the size of a football field, consists of three components, IAA archaeologist Dr. Rina Avner explained.

“A large treading floor paved with ceramic tiles was discovered in the center in which there is a press bed of a screw used to press grapes. Three vats into which the must flowed were revealed along the western side of the treading floor. The collecting vats were carefully designed with slots in their sides that allowed the liquid to flow in a controlled manner and they were treated with hydraulic plaster so as to prevent the must from seeping into the ground.”

The wine was fermented and made into quality wine through the use of compartments around the treading floor. In the second stage the grape remnants were pressed a second time by means of the screw situated in the center of the treading floor, from which plain wine was prepared that was referred to in rabbinic sources as paupers’ wine, she added.

The ceramic model of a church was a rare archaeological discovery and was unearthed near the wine press.

“This object is a kind of clay box that has an accentuated and decorated opening in its broad side,” said Dr. Avner.

“Floral decorations and crosses appear on the other three sides. The roof of the model is fashioned in the shape of a sloped tile roof, and in its four corners are four decorative knobs meant to accentuate the corners. On the top of the roof a large loop handle, also flanked by crosses, was attached for holding or suspending the object. The variety of decorations and building-like features of the object suggest this is a miniature model of a church.”

The model is one of several objects that were used as ritual objects that were hung or placed inside buildings. An oil lamp inserted into it through the decorated opening illuminated the inside of the model.

“Since the crosses also served as narrow openings, the light was disseminated via them and shadows of crosses were projected onto the walls of the building where the object was placed,” she said.

The Story Of Daniel

Friday, December 7th, 2012

There are many wonderful stories narrated in Scriptures about the experiences of the Navi Daniel. Many of these stories are found in Sefer Daniel, while others are found in the Talmud and Midrash.

In the third year of the reign of Yehoyakim, king of Yehuda, Nevuchadnezzar, king of Bavel lay siege to Yerushalayim and conquered it. He took many treasures from the Beis HaMikdash back to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god.

He then ordered his courtiers to round up the wisest children of Yehuda, who would be trained as advisors, for these children were known for their erudition and for their worldly knowledge.

Among the children taken were four outstanding young geniuses: Daniel, Chananyah, Mishael and Azariah.

Provides Meats For The Children

The king commanded Ashpenaz, the chief of his courtiers, to provide the children with the best of meat and wine so that they should be healthy in body and in mind when they appeared before him.

Daniel and his companions, however, would not defile themselves with the king’s meat and wine and requested instead that they be supplied with vegetables.

Ashpenaz was afraid to comply with this wish. “I fear to disobey my lord the King, who has ordered me to give you his meat and wine. For, if he sees you looking worse than the other children of your country who are eating the meat, he will have me killed.”

“Fear not,” replied Daniel. “Experiment by giving us only vegetables and water for the next 10 days and then compare us with the other children who will eat the king’s meat. You will then see who looks healthier.”

He agreed, and for the next 10 days he served them vegetables and water. And lo and behold, at the end of that time their countenance appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children who ate meat. From that day onward, Daniel and his companions only ate vegetables.

G-d gave Daniel and his companions, knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom, and to Daniel, especially, he gave understanding of all visions and dreams.

After three years of study, they appeared before the king and the king found none that in all matters of wisdom and understanding, they were 10 times better than all the magicians and astrologers in his realm. He appointed them to be his personal advisors.

The King’s Dream

In the second year of the reign of Nevuchadnezzar, the king had a dream. He awoke in the morning with a start. It was a terrible dream and it bothered him because he forgot what he had dreamed about. All he knew was that it had been scary.

The king called all of his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers and the Chaldeans to appear before him. When they arrived, the king told them that he had a terrible dream and asked them to interpret it for him.

“O King, live forever,” said the Chaldeans. “Tell the servants your dream and we will then offer you its interpretation.”

“I cannot remember the dream,” replied the king. “It is gone from me. If you will not make known to me the dream with its interpretation I shall cut you to pieces and destroy your homes. But if you tell me what I dreamt and its interpretation I shall reward you handsomely and I will give you great honor.”

The Chaldeans replied, “There is no man on earth who can fulfill your request and there had never been a king who has asked such an unfair request.”

Death To The Wise

The king became very angry and commanded the guards to destroy all the wise men of Bavel. Among the wise men to be destroyed was Daniel, who had not attended the sessions of the Chaldeans. When he was made aware of this decree, he sought out Arioch, the king’s captain, and advised him that he would tell the king his dream and its interpretation the following morning. The captain made arrangements for Daniel to appear before the king the following morning.

That night Daniel visited Chananya, Mishael and Azariah and urged them to pray to G-d to help him so that he they would not perish with the rest of the wise men of Bavel. G-d heard their pleas and He revealed the secret to Daniel in a night vision.

Dinner In Venice

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Winter is almost here and nothing says comfort like a rustic Italian dinner.

Pasta e Fagioli (Bean Soup)
(serves 4-6)

Ingredients

1 quart hot water
2 or 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
1 celery stick, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 cup of dried beans
1 small ripe tomato, seeded, peeled and diced (or you can use canned peeled tomatoes, drained)
Salt and pepper to taste
1½ tablespoon freshly chopped parsley or rosemary
2 cups fresh egg pasta, or you can use dried egg pasta (broken down pappardelle), or regular dried pasta.

Directions

1. Soak the beans overnight in a bowl of cold water.
2. Dice the carrot, thinly slice the celery, and chop the onion finely.
3. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes.
4. Add the tomato, beans, and salt, and cook for another 2 minutes.
5. Cover with hot water, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for one hour or until the beans are cooked.
6. Add the pasta and allow to simmer until the pasta is also cooked (for fresh pasta, usually 3 to 5 minutes; for dried pasta, follow the instructions on the package).
7. Sprinkle with black pepper, adjust the salt, drizzle with a little more olive oil, decorate with the parsley and serve hot.

Potato Salmon Terrine

Ingredients

3 medium/large potatoes
1 fillet of salmon (about 2 lb), baked or steamed
2 scallions or a medium onion
½ cup Chardonnay
1 lemon
3-4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chives and parsley, to taste

Directions

1. Boil the potatoes until soft, drain, peel and mash with a fork or potato masher.
2. Add the salt, pepper, wine and about 2 tbsps of the oil.
3. In the meantime boil the salmon for 15 minutes with the peeled and sliced scallions (you can also cook it in the microwave in 5 minutes).
4. Then drain it and chop the whole mixture in a food processor along with the juice of ½ a lemon, salt, pepper, and about ½ tbsp of chopped chives.
5. Combine with the mashed potatoes and pour into a loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3″), previously lined with plastic wrap.
6. Press the puree into the pan with your hands or a wooden spoon, cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours before serving.
7. Unmold and serve decorated with more chives, and (if you like) some mayo.
* If you are in a rush, replace the fresh salmon and scallions with canned salmon and a touch of onion powder, but the result is less delicate.

Chicken Stew (Ezekiel’s Chicken)

Ingredients

1 chicken, cut into serving pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, slightly pressed or minced
1/3 cup green or/and black olives, pitted
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons mix of freshly chopped herbs (sage, rosemary, plus basil, mint or parsley)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 or 3 peeled tomatoes
1/3 cup dry wine, red or white

Directions

1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot, add the chicken and sauté until golden.
3. Add the salt, pepper, olives, garlic, and herbs, and the chopped (and drained) tomatoes.
4. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring, add the wine, then lower the flame and cook covered until tender (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally, and adding a little water if it tends to dry out.
5. Uncover, and if the sauce is too liquidy turn up the heat to thicken it.
6. You can serve it with a side of polenta, potatoes or rice as a main course.

Chocolate Hazelnut Whole Grain Cake

Ingredients

3 medium/large eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 oz parve dark, bittersweet chocolate
¼ cup olive oil or vegetable oil
½ tsp vanilla extract or 1 tbsp DiSaronno liqueur
1/8 cup almond or soy milk, or more if needed
1 cup hazelnut meal (or almond meal)
4/5 cup whole grain flour (oatmeal or spelt or other; for a GF version, try buckwheat flour)
1 package baking powder
1 pinch salt
Confectioner’s sugar to decorate

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Beat the eggs with the sugar for a couple of minutes or until light and frothy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/food/recipes/dinner-in-venice/2012/11/12/

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