The East Brunswick Jewish Center recently hosted the annual Community Wine Sale cosponsored by the East Brunswick Jewish Center’s Mitzvah Corps and the Young Israel of East Brunswick, where more than 120 wines, liquors and liqueurs were on display and available for tasting. All wine sale proceeds will benefit Yashar LaChayal, an organization providing humanitarian support to soldiers of the IDF.
Mitzvah Corps organizers Jack Silverman, Marty Genee and PJ Smith were on hand to make sure the tasting ran smoothly. Smith recalled that the wine sale has been an annual event for over 20 years and has grown from a few standard sacramental wines and the then-“exotic” Bartenura Moscato, which were picked up in a caravan of community members’ vehicles, to the now vast display of products from five distributors that included the first Kosher for Passover whiskey and a distinctive chocolate-pistachio liqueur in addition to red, white and rosé wines.
Barbara and Yitzy Weiss have come to the event from Highland Park for many years. “We drink wine throughout the year and we love supporting Yashar LaChayal at the same time. It is important for the community to support events like this.” Barbara added that it is the “best selection of kosher wines all in one place. If you can’t find what you are looking for here, then that item doesn’t exist!” They appreciated the opportunity to taste and try their favorites, including a Passover tequila.
Silverman added that the wine tasting has always been a popular event that was offered virtually during COVID. This year, although in person, it featured five time slots with limited numbers of participants so the room would “allow attendees to feel more comfortable.” Close to 100 people signed up to attend the tasting, representing newcomers and longtime supporters from all segments of the Jewish community.
The distributors were very knowledgeable about all types of wines, and able to match attendees with the perfect wines for their taste buds and pocketbooks, with prices ranging from under $10 to $150. Lisa Baldino of Monsieur Touton Wines highly recommended her personal favorite: the award-winning O’Dwyers Creek Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
Michael Galanti of Allied Importers has been part of the wine tastings each year the event was held in person. Representing Dalton Wineries, from Israel’s Upper Galilee region, he brought reserve and estate-bottled pink, white and rosé wines for attendees to try.
Larissa Nahari, of The River Wine, importers, distributors and producers of kosher wines, brought about 20 wines and four Kosher for Passover spirits to the tasting. She had difficulty picking her favorite product since they were all like her children. When pressed, she selected the Twin Suns products. “The name was inspired by the birth of my twin sons,” she said. “So I guess they really are my children.”
Karen Weitz of East Brunswick noted that she has made the wine tasting an annual event. She gets to taste and discover new favorites that she purchases for Passover and the entire year. “The prices are good, the wines are excellent, and the proceeds are used to support a mitzvah.” Weitz brought her daughter, Allison, along for additional help in making her wine selections. Her personal favorite this year was a California varietal rose from Hajdu Vineyards.
The EBJC Mitzvah Corps began their support of the IDF with the purchase of bulletproof vests for members of the Golani Brigade. When the IDF began issuing the vests as standard equipment, they decided on another means of assistance to the Golani Brigade.
The opportunity to stock up with wine for Passover and support a charity “near and dear to their hearts” brought Aron and Leslie Adams of East Brunswick to the tasting. They declared the wine selection very good and definitely to their liking. Sparkling and still wines from Israel, Spain, California, New York State, Australia, South Africa, Austria, France, Italy, New Zealand and South Africa were represented along with specialty items.
Marty Genee observed that the “blue bottle” was a huge seller for many years, but the quality and variety of kosher wines and the increasingly sophisticated kosher palate have made the wine sale the success that it is. “It truly is a wonderful thing where people buy wine and the funds go to the IDF in support of the work of Yashar LaChayal. Huge thanks go to the community for their participation.”
It isn’t too late for your chance to support Yashar LaChayal and add some new and unusual favorites to your Passover table. Wine orders can be placed through April 1, 2022. In addition to the Middlesex County area, delivery to Bergen County and other areas in New Jersey can be arranged; questions should be sent to [email protected]
For more information on the Yashar LaChayal organization, see: https://yasharlachayal.org/
To view the full list of wines available for order through the EBJC/YIEB wine tasting and sale, please see: https://tinyurl.com/3d24em57.
By Deborah Melman