Prestige is not an island. When it affects any one of us, it reflects on our places of learning, research, employment, families and countries.
Take for instance the case of Jerusalem Post columnist Adam Sebag Montefiore, whose “Wine Talk” has been published in the Post for almost a decade.
Montefiore was notified this week that he was elected to the Circle of Wine Writers, the most prestigious international 270-member association of wine writers, authors, journalists, bloggers, broadcasters, photographers and lecturers, whose focus is on wines and spirits. It’s a wonderful ego boost for him, it reflects well on the Post, which has given him a platform, and it well and truly puts Israeli wines on the world map.
Aside from Montefiore’s extensive knowledge of wines, it helps that some members of his family are actually in the wine business and that the name Montefiore has a noble historic connotation not just in Israel but in Italy and England as well. The wine writer is not a direct descendant of the famous Sir Moses Montefiore, who had no children – but he is indeed a member of the illustrious family.
Asked when he had his first taste of wine, the London-born Montefiore quips that it must have been during his circumcision, but he can’t really remember. If it was then, it must have been Palwin, which was a popular kosher wine in London and was an abbreviation for Palestine Wine that was largely used by the Jewish community in Britain. He does remember drinking Palwin at family Seders on Passover. The first “great wine” that he remembers drinking was Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1971, which he describes as “an epiphany moment”.
Before making aliyah in 1989, he worked for Bass Carrington, which at the time was the largest brewery and drinks company in the UK. They also had wine interests and very soon he moved from beer to wine, which he says is so much more complex, varied and interesting than beer. Like everything else, people’s taste buds change, as did Montefiore’s, and he now likes an edgier wine that is less bombastic with better acidity, because such wines go better with food.
If he dines alone, he does not usually include wine in his repast, but if he’s dining with one or more other people then wine is part of the meal.
There is an acute distinction between wine tasting and wine drinking. He does the tasting more than the drinking.
Even before he came to live in Israel, Montefiore worked to promote Yarden, Gamla and Golan wines on the British market, and following his aliyah, he worked for Carmel Winery and Golan Heights Winery. He also played a part in the launch of Yatir Winery, which is a Carmel subsidiary, and in more recent years was involved in the launch of Kerem Montefiore and Montefiore Windmill Wines. Whether or not he has a personal interest in any particular winery, he makes it a point to promote Israeli wines in general in Europe and the US. In addition to his articles in the Post, he writes about Israeli wines for several overseas publications.
■ WHEN HE hosts a state luncheon or dinner, President Reuven Rivlin often finds himself as the odd man out at the table insofar as the menu is concerned, because he happens to be a vegetarian.
But he doesn’t force his culinary habits onto his guests – and they get to eat meat. But now, Rivlin has a culinary soul mate in the new IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, whom he hosted for lunch this week together with outgoing chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot, and their wives. Because Kochavi is also a vegetarian, the whole meal was vegetarian, and will continue to be on such occasions as Kochavi comes to the President’s Residence to brief him on the security situation.
■ AS ONE of his final acts in uniform, Eisenkot last week inaugurated a new athletics stadium at Camp Ariel Sharon, also known as the IDF City of Training Bases in Southern Israel. The facility was made possible via a $1 million donation by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF).
The new stadium contains 1,200 seats, running tracks and an athletic field, and will be used for sporting activities for the well-being of soldiers stationed at the base, as well as for important events that require a large seating capacity.
Joining Eisenkot in the inauguration ceremony were FIDF executive director in Israel Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Effi Idan, head of the IDF Technology and Logistics Branch Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Turgeman, and commander of Camp Ariel Sharon Col. Avi Motola.
■ TWENTY YEARS ago, Ambassador David Saranga as a young diplomat had his first significant career boost as deputy chief of mission in Romania. Now he’s back there as Israel’s ambassador, and decided that his first official duty would be to address the Jewish community, whose members gathered in Bucharest’s beautiful Templul Coral Synagogue. Moreover, he gave his address in Romanian, a language in which he happens to be fluent. He said that even though he had left Romania many years ago, Romania had not left him – not the language, not the culture, and not the friends he made there. Prior to his appointment Saranga was the senior foreign affairs adviser to Rivlin, in which capacity he was the points man prior to the president’s official visits abroad.
■ IN AN electronic social media era, it is almost impossible to keep any titillating news item under wraps. The law that forbids the publication of a suspect’s name for at least 48 hours until his or appearance in court, applies only to traditional media, because a means has not yet been found to prevent publication on social media.
Thus in the concurrent cases involving Efi Nave, the head of the Israel Bar Association, current affairs anchors on radio and television alluded to “the case we can’t talk about,” but said enough to pique the curiosity of listeners and viewers, and often enough related to Nave’s initial case of cheating the system at Ben-Gurion Airport for savvy listeners and viewers to get the message.
On television, he was also seen in and out of court with his face blurred until it was permitted to reveal his name. But anyone who knew what he looks like and is even vaguely familiar with his physique and body language could figure out his identity, proving once again the veracity of the Dickensian quote “the law is an ass.”
But it’s not just the law that’s an ass, it’s lawyers who try to circumvent the law in the mistaken belief that they will not be caught. Nave was an ass when he and his lady love traveled to Thailand, but wanted to avoid detection while Nave was in the midst of a messy divorce. The easiest way to do that was either not to fly on the same day, to fly on different airlines, or for one of them to fly first to one of Thailand’s neighboring countries and then to take a connecting flight to Thailand. Any of these options would have saved the embarrassing and possible criminal incident that followed and that drew attention to Nave’s other alleged misdemeanors that contradict the expected behavioral pattern of someone in his position.
■ THE PREMIERE performance of Lioness – on January 24 at the Tel Aviv Museum – the new dance that Rina Schenfeld created for herself in honor of her 80th birthday, has been sold out. The second performance that had originally been scheduled for Friday, February 22, has been brought forward to Friday, February 8, so that the day-time audience will not be impeded by closed-off streets on its way to the Tel Aviv Museum. The Tel Aviv marathon is scheduled for February 22, which means that motor vehicles will not be able to travel through a large part of the inner city.
■ BY LAW, the education minister is the chairman of the Wolf Prize Foundation. Even though Naftali Bennett may no longer be education minister when the prizes are actually awarded in May, he was present this week when the laureates were announced, and also made some brief remarks.
Although the event was held in both Hebrew and English, Bennett who is a near-native English speaker with American parents, chose to speak only in Hebrew. He said that the Wolf Prize puts Israel on the map, “but where we are not on the map is for people to look at us and say: ‘We want to be like you.’”
Bennett underscored that Israelis should also have this attitude among themselves.
Regardless of differences of opinion he declared: “We are one nation – Jews, Arabs, religious and secular with different viewpoints faiths and complexions – but one nation.”
Bennett also spoke of the need to make an extra effort regardless of what one does in life. “The correct way is to put in that extra effort.”
He said that this is what he tried to do as education minister when he fought opposition for children being required to learn core subjects.
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