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Grape Expectations

Staff Writer

Swirl. Sniff. Swish. Spit.

Repeat 170 times. In four hours and change.

Welcome to the life of a time-stressed kosher wine taster.

In the basement of City Winery on a recent Thursday afternoon, five young wine connoisseurs made their way through 170 bottles of kosher wine — first aerating the wine with a gentle swirl, then swishing it around the palate, and ultimately spitting the liquid into silver wine-chilling buckets scattered across a table where they were seated.

Endless Highway

Managing Editor

“Away, I’m bound away,  ‘Cross the wide Missouri.” — “Shenandoah,” American folk song

'A Web of Affection'

Managing Editor

E.B. White, the lyrical New Yorker writer and children’s book author, knew a thing or two about heroes, especially the unsung kind. He knew the power of the small, yet profound, human gesture, the tender mercies extended from one person to another in need. And he suggested that in the realm of human relations, only one metaphor really mattered: the web. Our differences aside, we are all tethered to one another, as if to a web, tied by invisible — even mystical — strands. Heroes understand this more clearly than the rest of us.

On South Beach Florida's Jewish Past Is Present

Managing Editor

The elderly Jews are gone now, the ones who carried their  Yiddish cadences and stories of the rag trade and the Old Country with them down to the tip of Miami Beach. Throughout the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s and even into the ‘80s, they sat in rickety, rainbow-striped folding chairs on the warm sand, sweet Atlantic breezes tousling their white hair. Or they sat on the front porches of the many small Art Deco-style hotels and apartment buildings they called home in their autumn years, whiling away the hours in their Southern shtetl.

Downtown: A Tale Of Redemption

Managing Editor

In a high-lonesome twang right out of the piney woods of the Ozarks, rock and roll Americanist Levon Helm sings of “a sorrow in the wind / blowin’ down the road I’ve been / I can hear it cry while shadows steal the sun.” Helm was the soulful, Arkansas-raised drummer in the pioneering ‘60s roots rock group The Band, and the song is an old gospel tune “Wide River to Cross” on his new CD, “Dirt Farmer.” It’s a prayer, really, a poignant hymn to loss but also a declaration that life rambles on, that “I’m only halfway home,

Israel’s Flower Power

Israel Correspondent

The nugget of philosophy emerged on a walk in a verdant field below the hills of the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Tivon. It was just a few weeks before Israel’s 50th birthday and I asked a friend, an Israeli commando veteran and a prize-winning military engineer, what Zionism meant to him.

“What is Zionism? This is Zionism,” he said pointing to the lanes of blooming wildflowers, and dozens of others catching the late winter-early spring spectacle.

Whole Lotta Shuk-ing Going On

Israel Correspondent

Jerusalem — Jerusalem has changed dramatically in the past couple of decades. Entirely new neighborhoods have been built, upscale shopping malls now dot the landscape, and the percentage of green space has dwindled proportionately to the booming construction.

That’s one of the many reasons to savor Mahane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s sprawling open-air market, which, despite its cleaner, more polished appearance in recent years, remains the most lively and authentically Israeli place in an ever-changing city.

‘A Biography Of The Israeli Dream’

Israel Correspondent

Jerusalem — The summer of 1967 in Israel is recalled universally as a time of euphoria and romance for a country in the afterglow of a stunning military victory.

But for Yossi Klein Halevi, at the time a 14-year-old Orthodox kid from New York visiting his relatives for the first time, the war also inspired him and a cousin to mark the Ninth of Av fast by eating a falafel.

Half-Off for Yeshiva Studies


In a desperate move to reduce yeshiva tuitions, a blue-and-white ribbon panel has announced that all courses will be cut in half.

The new curriculum calls for studying the Five Commandments, the 306.5 mitzvot, the 2.5 Books of Moses and the 3 books of Mishnah.

Pirates Attack Kosher Cruise Ship


 Somalia—On Sunday night, Somali pirates hijacked a kosher cruise ship sailing in the Caribbean Sea.

The passengers, who were held hostage for three days, were Jewish singles on a two-week pleasure cruise.

The pirates gained easy access to the ship because they boarded during Masquerade Night. Crew members assumed the hijackers were merely passengers disguised as pirates.

By Wednesday, the pirates had abandoned the vessel and returned to Somalia.

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