Grapevine: Kosher sake for goodness sake!

Kosher sake is now available to accompany their sushi, sashimi, tempura and other Japanese culinary delights.

President Shimon Peres in his office 521 (photo credit: Rachel Marder)
President Shimon Peres in his office 521
(photo credit: Rachel Marder)
Israelis who observe the Jewish dietary laws but have a yen for Japanese cuisine will be pleased to learn that kosher sake is now available to accompany their sushi, sashimi, tempura and other Japanese culinary delights. The kosher sake – which has a sweet, fruity taste – was introduced to Israeli restaurateurs and alcoholic beverage importers at a sake promotion held on Wednesday at the Herzliya Pituah residence of Japanese Ambassador Hideo Sato, where some 20 categories of sake, only a few of which were kosher, were available for everyone to taste. There were several Japanese sake brewers on hand to explain the differences in taste, which are determined by the level of polished rice on which all categories of sake are based and the region in which the rice is cultivated.
Although Sato usually wears a suit when he receives guests, this time he was wearing a kimono with a print on the back – of a map designating places where sake is produced.
Kosuke Kuji, vice president of the Nanbu Bijin Sake Brewing Company, secured kosher certification for his company’s product from Rabbi Binyomin Edery, the Chabad kashrut administrator in Japan, just a few days prior to his arrival in Israel.
He was pleased to publicly announce for the first time that his company produces kosher sake.
Hiroyuki Nara, a representative for the Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO), said his agency was familiar with kosher markets all over the world and that there was strong cooperation in this sphere between JETRO Tel Aviv and JETRO New York.
There will be a higher-profile promotion of Japanese food products and cuisine in Israel later this year during Japanese Food Week, which is also being organized by JETRO.
Meanwhile, Sato gave his guests a taste of what is in store, with a Japanese buffet that included tempura, marinated tuna, shrimp in garlic and butter, marinated sweet and sour salmon, sushi, sashimi, Japanese omelets, chicken loaf, salted and sweetened chicken livers, roasted eggplant with sweet soy sauce, sautéed scallops and more.
■ WHEN HE sent his congratulations to Pope Francis on the latter’s election to the papacy, President Shimon Peres immediately invited him to visit Israel. In subsequent meetings with senior Catholic clergy and the Italian ambassador to Israel, Peres reiterated the invitation, which was reciprocated by the pope, who informed Peres that he included him in his prayers.
As things turned out, Peres will be going to Rome before the pope comes to Jerusalem.
Peres is scheduled to leave next Monday on a three-day visit to Rome where he will meet with the pope in the Vatican. He will also take the opportunity to meet with the president of Italy, Italian political and business leaders, and representatives of the Jewish community.
In addition to his visit to Rome, Peres will travel to Assisi, the home of St. Francis, the Pope’s patron saint. There, he will be welcomed by the mayor and hundreds of Franciscan monks, and will be given the key to the city and a medal in recognition of his unstinting efforts to achieve peace.
In his discussions with both the pope and the Italian leadership, Peres will focus on hopes for stability in the Middle East, the threat of a nuclear Iran, the struggle to alleviate world poverty and the strengthening of relations between the Vatican, the Christian world in general and the Jewish people and the State of Israel. He also will discuss what Europe can do to help speed up the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
Peres will be one of the first heads of state to meet with Pope Francis since he took over the leadership of the Catholic Church.
■ AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR Andrea Faulkner hosted a delegation of the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia, which is currently celebrating its 90th anniversary. Also among the guests were representatives of the International Council of Jewish Women, Australian expatriates living in Israel, and Israeli organizations and groups that partner with NCJW, such as Ilan-Tel Aviv; Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael- Jewish National Fund; the Haifa Rape Crisis Center; Ethiopian students at the University of Haifa; and Micha, the organization for the hearing impaired. NCJW president Dianne Hirsh presented Faulkner with a book on cooking adventures, which pleased her greatly, but she was even more excited to see the nylon bag in which it had been carried from Australia, bearing the logo of David Jones – one of the largest Australian department store chains.
Faulkner had hoped to surprise her guests with the presence of government spokesman Mark Regev, whose late grandmother, Mina Fink, was a national president of NCJW, but at the last minute, he sent his regrets. Hirsh, who is particularly keen on fostering interfaith relationships due to her belief that outreach to people of other cultures and backgrounds is vital, was thrilled that her delegation would be attending two interfaith meetings in Jerusalem.
The delegation did not attend the ANZAC Day commemoration ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery on Thursday, which was also hosted by Faulkner. It had previously arranged with the KKL-JNF to follow the ANZAC Trail, and to thus commemorate the heroism of Australian soldiers who were instrumental in defeating the Ottoman forces during World War I.
■ MARYLAND GOVERNOR Martin O’Malley, who visited Israel this week, told Prof. Avi Rivkind, former chairman of surgery and trauma at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, that when he was mayor of Baltimore he hung a picture of Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold in his office. “I can feel her spirit here today,” he said when visiting Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School and the trauma center at Hadassah hospital.
Szold was born in Baltimore and has been a source of pride to both Jews and non-Jews. Rivkind – who spent 1986-1988 training at the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland, and patterned Israel’s pioneering trauma center at Hadassah after it – told O’Malley and university president Jay Perman: “What I learned in Maryland has saved many lives in Israel, and we Israelis thank you.”
The University of Maryland and Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School have signed a cooperation agreement that includes joint research and both student and information exchange.
■ IT’S NOT often that Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat is willing to be outside of Israel on Independence Day, but this year she responded to a special invitation from the Israel Bonds Organization and the Israel Consulate General in New York to mark Israel’s 65th anniversary at a reception at the Rodef Shalom Synagogue, with the participation of some 1,500 guests, including the leadership of New York’s Jewish community.
It was certainly worth her while.
While Israel’s Consul-General in New York Ido Aharoni looked on with a pleased grin, Israel Bonds president and CEO Izzy Tapoohi and vice president of sales Stuart Garawitz presented Livnat with a check for $1.2 billion-plus, representing total worldwide Israel Bond sales for 2012. Considering the global economic crisis, the fact that the sum represented an increase over previous years’ sales was positively amazing, and a delighted Livnat did not refrain from saying so.
The only pall on the event was that it took place in the shadow of the tragedy of the Boston Marathon.
Livnat expressed her condolences to grieving families who lost loved ones and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.
The funds will go towards expansion of infrastructure, communications, transportation, water and other projects in Israel.
■ CABINET SECRETARY Zvi Hauser is obviously a historian in his soul.
Hauser was the guiding light in a decision taken by the cabinet on the eve of Independence Day to build a permanent home for the Israel State Archives. The archives, which were established in May 1948, house documents and photographs from the Ottoman period and the era of the British Mandate, as well as a treasure trove of material pertaining to the state’s history. Some of this national heritage material is available online, but Hauser is interested in making it all accessible, and this can be done only if it has a proper, permanent building of its own.
The new facility will be constructed adjacent to the Central Zionist Archives, near the entrance to the capital alongside the Jerusalem International Convention Center. The new building will also include an auditorium, exhibition hall and reading facilities. Much of its material is duplicated in the Central Zionist Archives and the National Library, each of which also contains additional material about the Jewish world which is not pertinent to the state archives, but together with other archives maintained by state institutions, they constitute the most comprehensive documentation of Jewish heritage and history.
Hauser is also credited with receiving an agreement in principle from the British National Library, for the loan of the original copy of the letter dated November 2, 1917, and signed and sent by British foreign secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour to Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, affirming that “His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
The letter, which became known as the Balfour Declaration, is widely regarded as the first significant diplomatic achievement of the Zionist movement. The original document has never before left Britain.
The Rothschild family gave it to the British Museum which in turn transferred it to the British National Library, with which Hauser has been negotiating for some time. Hauser believes it is essential for Israelis to view the original Balfour document with their own eyes and in their own country.
It is hoped that the original document can be exhibited at the newly renovated Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, which will be rededicated in two years time and will form part of a new Independence Museum.
Keren Hayesod, which is both directly and indirectly involved in many aspects of national development, undertook to raise the NIS 40 million for the project. It recently completed the task with an earmarked donation by Eric and Sheila Samson of South Africa, who were the recipients of the Prime Minister’s 2013 Prize for Global Innovation in alternative fuels for transportation.
The Samsons, whose philanthropy extends in many directions, are longtime Keren Hayesod activists and donors.
■ IN YET another post in a distinguished career of binational, community and national service, Lenny Ben-David, the former deputy chief of mission at the Israel Embassy in Washington from 1997-2000, was this month appointed director of communications for the Jerusalemheadquartered NGO Monitor.
“Lenny brings a rich background in political communications, research and analysis, diplomacy, and strategic planning,” said NGO Monitor president Prof. Gerald Steinberg.
“His experience in Washington and Jerusalem provides us with a valuable team member.”
Ben-David’s professional activity began in 1972 at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, and in 1982, he moved to Israel and opened AIPAC’s Jerusalem office. Following his diplomatic service, Ben-David worked with institutions such as the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
He has served as editor of Myths & Facts, Near East Report, the Daily Alert and Israel Campus Beat, and is publisher of the Israel Daily Picture; he also served as a medic in the IDF.
Ben-David is very pleased with his new position because “NGO Monitor plays a unique public policy role in holding political advocacy organizations and their funders accountable.
Many of these NGOs are at the forefront of campaigns that exploit moral values in order to delegitimize Israel.”
■ AT A ceremony in Jerusalem last Friday, Donna Calcaterra of the 613 Foundation was flanked by friends who came to celebrate the donation of one of the new lifesaving vehicles she sponsored for Magen David Adom. She presented the keys to this newest blood mobile to MDA paramedic and phlebotomist Izzat Jaber. The mobile is in service in Jerusalem and has already collected more than 16,000 units of blood.
Calcaterra also dedicated two ambulances she had previously donated, as part of a fleet of several others that have been in service and have already treated more 9,000 patients throughout Israel.
■ AFTER A couple of months of running in their new establishment, immigrant entrepreneurs Bryan Choritz of South Africa and Etan Flatow of the United States held the official launch of their Jerusalembased restaurant, Morgens, which offers eight all-day breakfast options plus a lunch and dinner menu. They credit their wives with coming up with the idea for the restaurant, though both Choritz and Flatow had previous restaurant experience at the Village Green. They quip that the restaurant really belongs to their wives and that they are just the slaves, but it seemed at the launch that it was an extended family affair, with staff happily pitching in to ensure the business’s success.
A definite plus in that direction is that the proprietors are open to suggestions, and not just for additional items to be added to the menu.
They are even happy to receive people’s favorite recipes, and if the recipe in question does get a menu listing, it will be named in honor of the person who supplied it. Because, like them, most of their clients are immigrants, Choritz and Flatow want to include as many international dishes as possible – and are even toying with the idea of vegetarian “bacon,” so that they can serve bacon and eggs in their mehadrin restaurant.
Morgens has already succeeded in turning portobello mushrooms into a delicious hamburger that almost – but not quite – tastes like meat.
Meanwhile, among the items suggested to them at the official opening were crumpets, scones, banana splits and French toast made with sweet challah instead of regular bread. They already have French toast on the menu, but not the sweet challah variety.

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