Monthly Archives: March 2019

Passover 2019: Perfect timing for exciting new wine releases

   

                        WINE EXPERT GABRIEL GELLER SHARES HIS TOP PICKS FOR PASSOVER SEDERS AND FESTIVE MEALS

  • Kosher for Passover Spirits
  • What Makes Wine Kosher
  • Royal Wine Celebrates 70th Anniversary
  • Kosher Wine Generates Upwards of $10 Million in Sales

Wine is essential to Passover, when Jewish people around the world gather with family and friends to recount the story of the Exodus from Egypt and share a festive meal. It is customary for all (adults) to drink four cups of wine at the Seder. That’s a lot of wine for one meal!

This year Passover begins on the night of April 19, which is somewhat later than usual.  But it’s great news for wine lovers, according to Royal Wine’s PR Director, Gabriel Geller. In the runup to Passover 2019, Geller recommends new bottlings to explore for the “Feast of Freedom” – the commemoration of the redemption of the Jewish people, some 3,500 years ago, from centuries of slavery in Egypt. His suggestions pair exceptionally well at the Seder table or any other special occasion, and run the gamut of varieties and price points.

Promising Rosés

According to Geller, some outstanding new 2018 rosé wines were released in time for Passover 2019, and the new vintage is promising. “I enjoy starting the Seder with a glass of cold, fresh rosé, so the timing is perfect.”

Smooth and easy to drink, rosés are best consumed young and fresh. He cites the Herzog Lineage Rosé from Clarksburg, CA (SRP $19.99) as a delicious, fruity, and herbal complement to light starters. Other good bets include Gush Etzion and Flam (SRP $24.99 and 34.99 respectively). These wineries, both located in Israel’s Judean Hills, were among the first out of the gate with their new rosés this year.

Complex Reds

“As soon as the main course is served,” Geller said, “I will typically move on to a more multi-layered wine such as the Carmel Limited Edition 2014 (SRP $79.99), a Bordeaux-style blend from Israel.” Also of note is Domaines Rollan de By, owned by Jean Guyon. The extravagant designer just released the first-ever new kosher run from his estates: Chateau de By Medoc 2016 (SRP $27.99). “Well-balanced and medium-bodied, this Bordeaux from an exceptional vintage is silky in the mouth and pairs well with many types of dishes,” claims Geller. “It would be a good choice for the Passover Seder.”

Lineage Choreograph a field blend of more than a dozen different grapes comes from an experimental plot on the Herzog estate vineyard — the wine is soft and inviting while at the same time complex and flavorful, and very reasonably priced (SRP$20.00)

Herzog Wine Cellars also recently released Herzog Special Reserve Quartet 2015, a blend of varieties grown in prime regions of California. The wine, as its name indicates, comprises 4 grape varieties: Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Full-bodied, rich, complex, and spicy, it impresses with its remarkable balance, while showcasing the unique characteristics of each variety (SPR:  $39.99).

Geller also noted that Italian wines have been gaining in popularity among kosher consumers. Wine Spectator recently awarded the Terra di Seta Chianti Classico Riserva (SRP $34.99) an impressive 93 points. Now that the 2013 has made its way to the shelves, Geller predicted that this superior vintage will outperform its predecessor.

Sweet Endings

A long meal such as the Passover Seder also requires some fine dessert wine to end the night on a sweet note. Chateau Guiraud, which was absent from the kosher scene since 2001, recently made a comeback with two new wines available for the first time in a kosher version.

G de Guiraud 2017 (SRP $39.99) is a satisfying, dry blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, while the chateau’s second Sauternes, Petit Guiraud 2017, is a luscious, wonderful dessert wine (SRP $74.99). Herzog Late harvest Orange Muscat 2018 – don’t be fooled by this wine’s orange tinge and floral near orange aromas.  Its 100% Orange Muscat Grape has great lively acidity and sweetness, all rolled into this floral, long-lasting luscious wine (MSRP $22.99).

New Kosher for Passover Spirits:

· Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Anejo 
Sotol is from the northern state of Chihuahua in Mexico. Sotol is not made out of Blue Agave like tequila, but Dasylirion wheeleri, otherwise known as Desert Spoon, or Sotol in Spanish (My wife translated that for me).
This Anejo Sotol is rich and smoky with slight hints of Grapefruit.

· Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Reposado
Like a typical Reposado from Mexico this is aged only for 6 months. A special uniqueness to Sotol is the oak used for ageing the product is Virgin oak unlike tequila which does used bourbon barrels. The fresh oak gives added tannins and spice to this tasty item.

 · Zachlawi Dry Arak
Arak, which means perspiration in Arabic, is the spirit drink of choice in the countries of the middle east. Abe Shrem, founder of Zachlawi, brought his family’s old Syrian recipe back to life here in the USA. Bold Anise aromas shine through with delicious licorice finish.

· Elite Arak

Elite Arak is one of the leading Israeli producers of this centuries-old spirit. Every Friday afternoon, a day off for many Israelis, men and women sit outside together with friends while sipping a cold shot of Elite Arak.

· Alouf Arak

The most popular Arak in Israel, Alouf Arak is silky smooth with notes of sweet anis and fig.

· Godet Fine de Cognac

A wonderful blend of eau-de-vie from the Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne growing regions. These two growing regions have very chalky soil which helps to make a very aromatic eau-de-vie, which is distilled to make this special cognac.

What Makes Kosher Wine Kosher:

There’s a common ‘urban legend’ that wine is rendered kosher after being blessed by a Rabbi – that is incorrect. Actually, for a wine to be made kosher there are strictly supervised purity guidelines that need to be followed from the moment the grapes enter the winery to when the wine is bottled.

To be considered kosher, Sabbath-observant Jews must supervise and sometimes handle the entire winemaking process, from the time the grapes are crushed until the wine is bottled. Any ingredients used, including yeasts and fining agents must be kosher.

Some Kosher wines are processed as Mevushal, which means ‘cooked’ in Hebrew. Some wineries produce their Mevushal wines by heating the must (grape juice) prior to fermentation, while others apply that procedure on the final product, prior to bottling.

When kosher wine is produced, marketed and sold commercially, it will bear kosher certification granted by a specially-trained rabbi who is responsible for supervision from start to finish.

About Royal Wine/Kedem

Founded in 1848, NJ-based Royal Wine Corp. has been owned and operated in the United States by the Herzog family, whose winemaking roots go back eight generations to its origin in Czechoslovakia.

Today, Royal Wine’s portfolio of domestic and international wines range from traditional wine producing regions of France, Italy and Spain, as well as Israel, New Zealand and Argentina.

Additionally, Royal Wine Corp.’s spirit and liqueur portfolio offer some of the most sought-after scotches, bourbons, tequilas and vodkas as well as hard to find specialty items such as flavored brandies and liqueurs.

The company owns and operates the Kedem Winery in upstate New York, as well as Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, California, a state-of-the-art-facility featuring guided wine tours, a fully staffed modern tasting room, gift shop and catering facilities. Additionally, the winery houses the award-winning restaurant Tierra Sur, serving the finest, Mediterranean-inspired, contemporary Californian Cuisine.

For more information, please contact Vicki Garfinkel, VICKIGJ PR, vicki@vickigjpr.com , 973-519-8926.

New York Jewish Guide

Czech Memorial Scrolls survived the Holocaust and travel to New York City

The fact that a few of the 1,564 Czech Memorial Scrolls were all in one place at the same time, was almost a miracle. It took detailed planning and the cooperation of many institutions to bring these historical documents to New York City’s Temple Emanu-El for one-evening. It is only through the efforts of the Herbert & Eileen Bernard Museum and the auspices of the Memorial Scrolls Trust of London that this first-time phenomenon took place in New York.

Scholars have determined that it would be difficult to identify examples of Jewish culture and religion more suitable than the Torah scrolls. The reading from a parchment manuscript, containing the Hebrew text of the Five Books of Moses, the Divine Teaching handed over to the people of Israel, is the cornerstone to the Jewish synagogue ritual.

More Than Parchment

The Torah scroll is a strip of parchment, prepared from the skin of a kosher animal. Many inches in length, it is supported by two wooden rollers (atzei hayyim, “trees of life”) at each end. Considered to be holy, the text and the scroll hold an exceptional position in Judaism. If the scroll is appropriate for reading in the synagogue, the Torah scroll must be written in Hebrew square script with permanent ink by a professional scribe (sofer). The scroll cannot have textual errors and the letters must be legible. While certain errors and imperfections may be corrected by the scribe, if the damage is wide-ranging, the parchment cannot be used.

Amazing Grace

The fact that the Torah Scrolls exist at all is a marvel.  They were saved from the Czechoslovakian regions of Bohemia and Moravia during WWII, surviving the planned destruction of everything Jewish and the horrors of the communist regime that controlled the country in 1948.

It is thought that the artifacts survived because Prague, although badly damaged, was not leveled during the fighting. The scrolls were stored in a synagogue in a Prague suburb and they remained (decomposing) in this building until 1963, when the Czech government sought a buyer for the treasures. Eric Estorick, a British art dealer, introduced the opportunity to Ralph Yablon, a founding member of London’s Westminster Synagogue. Yablon purchased the scrolls and donated them to his synagogue.

On February 7, 1964, 1,564 scrolls were delivered to London. According to Jeffrey Ohrenstein, “They were in plastic bags, like body bags.” Many of the scrolls were in disrepair. Fortunately, Rabbi David Brand, a sofer, was looking for work, and presumed that the synagogue would have at least one scroll in need of repair; he was shown an entire floor of scrolls in need of his attention. He worked in the synagogue for nearly 30 years, repairing all the scrolls – personally.

Shortly after their arrival in London, a trust was created to care for the scrolls and repairs were initiated. Over the next 30 years, over 1,400 scrolls were sent to synagogues around the world. Now the Trust focuses on raising awareness of the responsibility attached to the housing of these historic documents. Synagogues and institutions are asked to devote one Shabbat during the year to the Memorial Congregation to coincide with the anniversary of the deportation of that community and to memorialize the many murdered Jews by remembering their names on that Shabbat and Yom HaShoah and Yum Kippur.

With more than 75 scrolls from over 10 different states and countries on view, hundreds of people crowded the auditorium at Temple Emanu-El. The scrolls are identified by number and no longer have their original mantles. The current scroll covers range from sumptuous velvet to tartan plaid with an outstanding cover designed in the stripes of a concentration camp prison uniform. The Torahs were carried by Temple members as well as representatives from nearby synagogues and Houses of Worship. The scroll procession was accompanied by a violin playing Etz Hayim (A tree of life) from Proverbs.

In his emotionally moving words to the audience, Jeffrey Ohrenstein said: “The Torah is the one thing that binds all Jews together. We would like our scroll holders to use the scrolls in a way that reminds people of what we have in common rather than what divides us.”

For additional information, go to memorialscrollstrust.org.

By Dr. Elinor Garely – special to eTN

The 14th Street Y 2019 Annual PURIM Gala Raised More Than $375,000

On Thursday, March 14, 2019, the 14th Street Y hosted its 2019 PURIM Gala at Cipriani  25 Broadway, NYC, raising more than ever before-over $375,000 and counting. The 14th Street Y honored the Union Square Partnership and its Executive Director, Jennifer Falk, as the recipient of the 14th Street Y Community Builder Award.
The 14th Street Y’s Community Builder Award recognizes champions who go above and beyond to cultivate and strengthen their communities, and in turn inspire others-individuals, organizations, and local businesses-to do the same. The 14th Street Y could not think of a better recipient for its first Community Builder Award than the Union Square Partnership and its Executive Director Jennifer Falk.
 
Proceeds from the Gala help to advance the 14th Street Y’s mission as a hub of creativity, community programming, and Jewish culture in downtown Manhattan, providing scholarships, developing enrichment programs, and enhancing the lives of more than 26,000 people who walk through the doors each year.
An incredible show of support from the community, nearly 350 attendees gathered for cocktails, dinner, and entertainment as the 14th Street Y honored the Union Square Partnership and its Executive Director Jennifer Falk. The Gala was held at Cipriani 25 Broadway, NYC. In keeping with the time-honored Purim tradition of masquerade, guests were invited to indulge in wearing Purim-inspired masks and accessories.
“We were thrilled to recognize the Union Square Partnership and Executive Director Jennifer Falk as leaders and partners in serving this diverse community,” said Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein, Executive Director of the 14th Street Y. “We celebrate Purim with gifts, and the many gifts shared last night will ensure that the 14th Street Y can grow it’s highly sought after programs and support real and meaningful relationships within our community.”
“On behalf of the entire Union Square Partnership network of neighborhood partners, we are honored to receive the inaugural Community Builder Award from the 14th Street Y, an organization that sets the standard for true community building, ” said Jennifer E. Falk, Executive Director of the Union Square Partnership. “While much has been accomplished, there is more to be done. We are excited to partner with the 14th Street Y as they chart a course to the development of a new and improved facility. We also look forward to our continued work to bring the community together in a collaborative effort to revitalize the 14th Street-Union Square area.”
The community was invited for a decadent evening in celebration of all things Purim. Masks and revelry abounded from the moment guests entered the Gala and were greeted with a champagne toast served from above by a cirque-style aerial artist. A cocktail hour with scintillating music and a photo booth where guests can don many disguises was followed by a sumptuous dinner and a proper Purim spiel hosted by Artist Fellows from the 14th Street Y’s flagship artistic program, LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture. Groggers spun and wine was poured as attendees were reminded this holiday celebrates community, giving back to our neighbors and of course…feasting.
The 14th Street Y isa vibrant community center grounded in the belief that contemporary Jewish sensibilities can be a source of inspiration, connection, and learning for the individuals and families it serves throughout New York City’s East Village and beyond.
Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. Celebrated with feasts, drink and revelry, it celebrates standing up for what you believe in and calls us to honor others through giving gifts and charity. 
In keeping with the time-honored Purim tradition of masquerade, guests were invited to indulge in wearing Purim-inspired masks and accessories.
The 14th Street Y 2019 Purim Gala featured one-of-a kind live art and performances, including:
Ari Brand, an actor, musician, writer, teacher and lifelong New Yorker. His current projects include developing a play based on the life of his father, an Israeli-American pianist who died of AIDS in 1990. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and two-year-old son.
Yochai Greenfeld, dancer, actor and singer, was born and raised in Israel, where his artistic passion evolved among the books and the scrolls at YeshViat Maale Gilboa. He believes in art as a form of multi-layered communication, and aspires to create meaningful, amusing and inspiring conversations in his work.
Marques Hollie, jewsician, is an operatic tenor and facilitator of creative Jewish ritual whose work focuses on creating Jew-of-color-centered ritual experiences. Marques was named one of New York Jewish Week‘s 36 Under 36 (2018) and a Fellow in the Union for Reform Judaism’s JewV’Nation Fellowship, a visionary leadership development program.
Returning this year, the Gala also featured Rachel Pegram, comedian, actor, and writer living in New York City.  Onscreen, Rachel can be seen in the Adam Sandler Netflix movie The Week Of, as well as Don’t Think Twice, The Chris Gethard Show on TruTv, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The Late Show, Comedy Central, MTV, College Humor, Amazon, BET and more. In 2018 she was chosen by Comedy Central as an “Up Next” comedian and performed at Clusterfest in San Francisco. Rachel performs regularly at Union Hall, both as a writer/performer with the sketch group Lo-Fi NYC and as co-host of That Shit Ray, a monthly late night-esque variety show. She also regularly performs improv with Too Damn Much and Asssscat at UCB Hells Kitchen.
DINNER CO-CHAIRS
Barbara Benerofe and Harvey Schulweis, Lynne P. Brown, Lori Buchbinder, Susan Buchbinder and William Abramson, Susan Etess and Howard Zimmerman, Cristian Goodhart, Joseph Persky, Sally Wasserman and Henry Hecht
2019 GALA HOST COMMITTEE
Darcy Bradbury and Eric Seiler, Laura and Mark Doman, Sydney Frazier and John Gallagher, Dr. Carola Garson and Ryan Garson, Rosesara and Jonathan Greenspun, Sara Gubins and Michaël Bijaoui, Bradley Korn, Hildy Kuryk and Jarrod Bernstein, Allison Leff and Daniel Macklowitz, Lauren Lowman and Eric Rattner, Ronit Muszkatblit and Yonatan Israel, Anne F. Pollack, Andrew Rasiej, Lisa Schein and David Stone, Alissa Dicker Schrieber, Keri and Scott Schundler, Janna and Michael Stern, Harron Zimmerman
THE 14TH STREET Y BOARD OF DIRECTORS 
Joseph Persky, Chair; Harvey Schulweis, Chair Emeritus; Shira Koch Epstein, Executive Director
Peter Bernstein, Renée Brodie, Alex Dergun*, Ryan Garson*, Ilana Goldman, Cristian Goodhart, Sara Gubins, Rafael Hines, Brooke Carleton Paduano, Eric Perlmutter, Eric Rattner*, Jacques Raphael, Janna Fishman Stern, Sally Wasserman, Pauline Weinstein, Howard Zimmerman
*Board Observer
EDUCATIONAL ALLIANCE
Roberta Karp, Chairman
Alan van Capelle, President & CEO
14TH STREET Y EXECUTIVE STAFF 
Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein, Executive Director
Jordan Brackett, Associate Executive Director for Planning and Advancement
Alan Scher, Associate Executive Director for Programs
Lauren Savage, Associate Executive Director for External Engagement
DJ Rabbi Darkside (DJ)                                
Rabbi Darkside is a Hip Hop Emcee/DJ/Beatboxer/Educator working to incite empathy and empowerment through social justice education and creative freedom with musical recordings, live shows and teaching. In the last 12 months, he commenced lecturing at The New School (NYC), traveled to Kampala, Uganda as a U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassador and headlined the Blue Note Jazz Festival. Based in Brooklyn while touring internationally, he has been featured on MTV’s MADE, Okayplayer, The New York Times, the TODAY Show, CBS Early Show, HipHopDX, and The Village Voice. 
 


About the 14th Street Y:
The 14th Street Y is a vibrant community center grounded in the belief that contemporary Jewish sensibilities can be a source of inspiration, connection, and learning for the individuals and families we serve throughout New York City’s East Village and beyond. With a health and wellness center, childhood, parenting and adult education and enrichment programs, and an innovative arts and culture department, the 14Y is committed to the development of the whole person and bettering people’s lives by strengthening family connections and building inclusive and sustainable communities.
Proceeds from the Gala help us advance our mission as a hub of creativity, community programming, and Jewish culture in downtown Manhattan. They enable us to provide scholarships, develop enrichment programs, and enhance the lives of more than 26,000 people who walk through our doors each year. The 14th Street Y is proud to be a part of Educational Alliance, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a 130-year history of serving New Yorkers downtown.
For individual tickets, visit 14StreetY.org/Gala. To discuss table sales or sponsorship packages, please contact Gala@14StreetY.org, 646-395-4312.
About the Union Square Partnership:
The Union Square Partnership is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization that works to ensure the Union Square district’s continued growth + success by providing a wide-range of services and programs including visioning and planning, sustainability, economic development, beautification, sanitation, and marketing and events like Summer in the Square, Harvest in the Square, Union Square Sweat Fest and more. Learn more about our 40 years of community partnerships, and what’s next for the Union Square neighborhood, at www.unionsquarenyc.org.
About Educational Alliance:
Educational Alliance brings together and partners with diverse communities in Lower Manhattan, offering individuals and families high-quality, multi-generational programs and services that enhance their well-being and socioeconomic opportunities. We are a place where everyone is welcome and where progress is powered one relationship at a time. We are proud of our legacy as a Jewish organization and we provide high-quality, transformational services and programs to all New Yorkers through our network of community centers on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and East Village. As we have for 130 years, we offer best-in-class programming-now across 15 sites-focusing on a mix of education, health and wellness, arts and culture, and civic engagement.
Thank You To Our Sponsors
Platinum Sponsors
Barbara Benerofe and Harvey Schulweis, Susan Etess and Howard Zimmerman, Joseph Persky
 
Gold Sponsors
Citi, Glenwood Management, Meridian Capital Group, Unity Building Services Inc., Dorisanne and Jacob Wasserman, Sally Wasserman and Henry Hecht
Silver Sponsors
Bloomberg Philanthropies, Darcy Bradbury and Eric Seiler, Buchbinder & Warren, Con Edison, Alisa and Dan Doctoroff, Laura and Mark Doman, Roberta and Brad Karp, Allison Leff and Daniel Macklowitz, Jessica and Stu Loeser, Mount Sinai, New York University, Normandy Real Estate Partners, Streetplus, Tishman Hotel and Realty

Mark Jacoby To Lead The World Premiere Of VILNA By Ira Fuchs

Vilna, a new play by Ira Fuchs directed by Joseph Discher, will begin its limited Off-Broadway World Premiere engagement at the Theatre at St. Clement’s (423 West 46th Street, between Ninth & Tenth Avenues) on Monday March 11th. Opening Night is set for Wednesday March 20th (7pm). This limited Off-Broadway engagement continues through Sunday April 14th only.

Mark Jacoby, best known for his roles on Broadway including Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat (Tony Award nomination) and Father in Ragtime, among others, will be joined by Sophia Blum, Brian Cade, Paul Cooper, Sean Hudock, Nathan Kaufman, Tom Morin, Seamus Mulcahy, James Michael Reilly, Patrick Toon, and Carey Van Driest.

Vilna will have scenic design by Brittany Vasta, costume design by Devon Painter, lighting design by Harry Feiner, and sound design by Jane Shaw. Rick Sordelet will serve as Fight Director.

Vilna, inspired by a news report of the discovery of the escape tunnel at the site of the Vilna ghetto, tells the heroic story of Motke Zeidel and Yudi Farber from the ages of 11 through 28, actual people who come of age in the remarkable city of Vilna during its degradation in the years before World War II and its destruction during the war. As the home they knew collapses, going from vibrant metropolis to stifling ghetto and ultimately the Ponar killing pits, they face painful moral choices to save others while putting their own lives at risk. Vilna contains an important message for today in light of the rise of political polarization, hate crimes, xenophobia and wealth inequality, the same issues seen in Nazi Germany.

“Because we are three generations removed from the Holocaust, the world’s collective memory of it is fading away. This emboldens people and institutions to promulgate Anti-Semitic lies and tropes and engage in violent hate crimes. Anti-Semitic lies, misinformation and hatred-mongering will never disappear. They serve a useful purpose as a politically exploitative tool of demagoguery to manipulate public sentiment; a tried and proven tool for capturing attention and consolidating power, effective at every level of political organization. Furthermore, the current autocratic rulers of Sovereign states that collaborated with the Nazis are taking advantage of the historical distance from the Holocaust to revise the historical record of their country’s complicity and memorialize Nazi collaborators as heroes. The question is, when does this Anti-Semitic activity, historical revisionism and world-wide enthusiasm for Neo-Nazi ideals become sufficiently amplified in frequency and volume to cause the alarm that we are on the verge of another anti-Semitic calamity of world-wide proportions?” said Mr. Fuchs.

Playwright Ira Fuchs is a lifelong resident of New York City. He graduated with a BA in English from Queens College of CUNY in 1974. While in college he started writing plays that were staged at the original Playwrights Horizons, founded by Bob Moss in a YWCA on Eighth Avenue. After graduating he spent 45 years as an entrepreneur working with computer technology from mainframes to microcomputers. He has consulted and worked for companies such for AT&T and Microsoft. He is the author and publisher of two books on Microsoft’s SharePoint platform. In 2016 he returned to writing plays and enrolled in a six week play writing workshop at Hollins University where Bob Moss is a faculty member. One assignment was to write a full length play, in three days, based on a news article published that day. In The New York Times was a story about the discovery of an escape tunnel in the Ponar death pits outside of Vilnius.

Opening – VILNA

Director Joseph Discher’s Off-Broadway credits include The Violin starring Robert Lu Pone (world premiere) and Ben Butler (NYC premiere) at 59E59. Regional: Ben Butler at Barrington Stage Company, Majestic Theater, and New Jersey Repertory Company (world premiere); Shakespeare Theatre of NJ: A Child’s Christmas in Wales, The Diary of Anne Frank, Wittenberg, Our Town, Henry IV: Part One, To Kill a Mockingbird, Arms and the Man, The Grapes of Wrath, The Tempest, Amadeus, Galileo, Of Mice and Men, The Fantasticks, Twelfth Night, Scapin, Much Ado About Nothing, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged); Florida Studio Theatre: One Man Two Guvnors. Theatreworks: The Weir, Red, and As You Like It; Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis: Julius Caesar. (www.joedischer.com)

Sophia Blum is a proud Jew originally from Rhode Island who now lives in Brooklyn. Off-Broadway: Public Enemy (Pearl Theater). Regional: The Bungler, Shakespeare LIVE! (Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey); Antony and Cleopatra (Orlando Shakespeare Theater); King Lear, CSC2’s Romeo and Juliet (Commonwealth Shakespeare Theater); Breaking Legs (Ocean State Theater Company). Look for her this summer in the film, 17 Brides starring Chadwick Boseman.

Brian Cade is a New York based actor and a proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA. New York credits include Julius Caesar, The Tempest, The Constant Couple and The Imaginary Invalid. Regional credits include The Liar, Black Coffee, Misalliance, Alls Well That Ends Well, Richard III, Bobby Gould in Hell, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Balcony. TV credits include “Quantico,” “Gotham,” “Bull,” “Nightcap!,” “Billions,” and “House of Cards.”

Paul Cooper is New York based actor originally from St. Louis, MO. Regional: Shakespeare Theatre of DC: Hamlet (Laertes); Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey: Buried Child; The Guthrie: Concrete Orange; The Berkshire Theatre Festival: Design for Living; Arena Stage: The Play About the Baby (The Edward Albee Festival); St. Louis Actor’s Studio: Good, King Lear, Blood Brothers (The Labute New Theatre Festival); The Black Repertory of St. Louis: Julius Caesar; Stray Dog Theatre: Psycho Beach Party. TV: “The Gifted” (Fox). Training: MFA Yale School of Drama.

Sean Hudock is an actor, producer and writer based in Brooklyn. Theatre includes She Calls Me Firefly (SoHo Playhouse), Sex with Strangers (Cleveland Play House), nine seasons with the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey including The Diary of Anne Frank, The Lion in Winter, Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, Romeo & Juliet; Alabama Shakespeare Festival, LA Theatre Works, Arena Stage. Film/TV: Private Romeo, “Alternatino with Arturo Castro” (Comedy Central), The Chaperone (Masterpiece). His play Hans & Sophie, inspired by a student-led Nazi resistance movement, is currently in development around the country. @SeanHudock

Cabaret Scene – VILNA

Mark Jacoby‘s Broadway appearances include leading roles in Elf, Sweeney Todd, Man of La Mancha, Ragtime, Show Boat (Tony, Outer Critics, and Joseph Jefferson nominations), The Phantom of the Opera, Grand Hotel, and Sweet Charity (Theatre World Award). Also in New York: Critical Darling for New Group, Sitting Pretty for Hypothetical Theatre, Enter the Guardsman for Vineyard Theatre (Drama Desk nomination). Elsewhere: Five Presidents (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre/Bay Street Theatre), Sleuth (Maltz/Jupiter Theatre), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Asolo), The Play’s the Thing (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, directed by Joe Discher), Life x 3 (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), Fiddler on the Roof (Walnut Street Theatre/Barrymore Award), The Visit (Goodman and Signature Theatres/Helen Hayes Nomination), and Nine (Joseph Jefferson Award). Recent on-camera appearances include TV’s “The Blacklist,” “Madam Secretary,” and “The Good Fight;” and on the big screen, The Post.

Nathan Kaufman‘s regional theatre credits regional theatre credits include Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Florida Studio Theatre, Human Race Theatre Company, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Shadow Lawn Stage, New Century Theatre, Bohemian Archaeology. Film: One Fall, Gym Rats, Potatoes for Pado, Liozna. TV: “The View,” “What Would You Do?” (ABC); “Secrets Of America’s Favorite Places” (Discovery Family). Co-Creator of the Broadway musical, Gettin’ The Band Back Together. Nathan is the host of web series “Unique New York With Nathan Kaufman.” BFA: Purchase College Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film. www.unywnk.com www.nathankaufman.com

Tom Morin‘s Off-Broadway/New York credits include Measure for Measure (NY Classical Theatre); The Rivals (Pearl Theatre Company); Twelfth Night, A Christmas Carol (Titan Theatre Company). Regional: Peter and the Starcatcher (Walnut Street Theatre); The Liar, The Cripple of Inishmaan (Centenary Stage Company); tours of The Winter’s Tale, Marriage of Figaro (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ); Twelfth Night, Macbeth (Great River Shakespeare Festival); The Front Page, Guys and Dolls (Monomoy Theatre). Co-founder of Polish Your Passion. Education: MFA in Acting, Ohio University; BA in Theatre & Political Science, College of the Holy Cross. @tom_pypnyc, www.tom-morin.com.

Josef and Yudi – VILNA

Seamus Mulcahy appeared Off-Broadway in Our Town directed by David Cromer. Recently performed as the title role in Charley’s Aunt directed by Joe Discher at The Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey. Other credits The Revisionist with Deanna Dunagan (The Wallis Annenberg Center), Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika (Kansas City Repertory, directed by David Cromer), the world premiere of Above the Fold with Taraji P. Henson (Pasadena Playhouse), The Winter’s Tale, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tovarich, The Alchemist, Shakespeare in Love, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, and King Lear at Shakespeare Theater of NJ; Rabbit Hole (La Mirada Playhouse), Master Harold… and the boys (Delaware Theatre Company), Romeo and Juliet (Yale Repertory Theater), The Diary of Anne Frank (Paper Mill Playhouse) and The Seagull, Antony and Cleopatra, Henry VI, and A Thought in Three Parts (Yale School of Drama). TV/Film credits: “Elementary,” One Fall, and Killing Lincoln. Seamus started Davy Game Productions, which produced Shakespaws, a DVD of dogs performing Shakespeare. MFA, The Yale School of Drama.

James Michael Reilly‘s Off-Broadway credits include The Comedy of Errors (Aquila Theatre Company). Tour: West Side Story (Europe). Regional: Treasure Island – A Musical Adventure (Fulton Theatre); Oliver! (Pioneer Theatre); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Inherit the Wind (Geva Theatre); A Christmas Carol, Glengarry Glen Ross, and others (Denver Center); Holmes and Watson (world premiere, Arizona Theatre Company); The Servant of Two Masters, The Bungler, The Taming of the Shrew, and many others (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey). Red Dead Redemption 2, “Madam Secretary,” “Unforgettable,” “Blacklist,” “Elementary,” “Person of Interest,” “Law and Order.”

Patrick Toon has performed regionally and in New York; favorite roles include Orgon in Tartuffe, Mr. Dussel in The Diary of Anne Frank, and Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps.

Carey Van Driest is co-creative director of Mania Studio, Inc. (@maniastudioinc). New York theatre: Much Ado About Nothing, The International, Othello, The Winter’s Tale, The Importance of Being Earnest. Regional highlights: Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, City Theatre, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Film: Yes, God, Yes (with Natalia Dyer), Scratch, Open House. TV: “New Amsterdam,” “Blindspot,” “The Blacklist,” “Madame Secretary,” “Deception,” “Nashville,” “Bull,” and “Homeland.” Her extensive voiceover work for international documentaries, national commercials, animation and radio can be heard at www.careyvandriest.com.

The remarkable city of Vilna was a highly evolved center of civilization where Jews lived since the tenth century. In the 18th century Vilna was the center of Jewish learning in Europe. Napoleon called it the “Jerusalem of the North.” Vilna was distinguished as a highly evolved center of economic, cultural, educational, and charitable activity. Vilna was the antithesis of the stereotypical shtetl enclaves of Eastern Europe. During the 19th century innovative Jewish industrialists and merchants manufacturing and trading contemporary products such as ready-made clothing and gloves, beer, tobacco, and sugar plants as well as mills, printers and tanneries. The civil infrastructure of the city was second to none in the world: it was the railroad transit hub for merchandise traveling between Russia and Germany. It had a telegraph system in 1838, a telephone network by 1886, a municipal sewage system in 1899, an electric power-generating station and wiring grid in place by 1901. By the late 1800s Vilna had dozens of synagogues, libraries, schools, theaters, museums, medical facilities, scientific institutions, newspapers, periodicals, journals and book publishing houses. The YIVO Institute, an organization that preserves, studies, and teaches the cultural history of Jewish life throughout Eastern Europe, Germany, and Russia, was founded in Vilna in 1925. Renowned scientists, teachers, writers, sculptors, and musicians made their homes there. Yiddish was the common language. At the beginning of the 20th century, Vilna had hundreds of Jewish educational institutions in which 13,000 children studied. Vilna was renamed Wilno in 1921 when Poland was reconstituted, at which time the Jewish community fell into decline. The Nazis completely eradicated the Vilna Jews between 1941 and 1944, and the city was renamed Vilnius after World War II when it became part of Lithuania.

Performances are Monday, Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 7pm, with matinees Wednesday & Saturday afternoons at 2pm & Sunday afternoon at 3pm.

Tickets are $39.50 – $69.50, with premium seats available for $99.50. They may be purchased online at Telecharge.com, by phone at 212/239-6200, or in person at the St. Clement’s box office (423 West 46th Street, between Ninth & Tenth Avenues) one hour prior to show time.

For more information, visit vilna-the-play.org.

Kosher Bed & Breakfast in Bangor, Maine, Fills a Niche

Serving visitors and the local community in the central part of the state

New Yorkers Laurie Tobias-Cohen and her husband, Yosef Cohen, fondly recall a memorable vacation weekend in Bangor, Maine.

Thanks to Chabad of Bangor, established two years ago by Rabbi Chaim and Esther Wilansky, they didn’t have to rush home for Shabbat during their week-long trip, which also took them to Acadia National Park and the seaside town of Bar Harbor.

The two found out about the Wilanskys’ hospitality online: The Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries rent out a room and offer guests the opportunity to join them for Shabbat meals. So Tobias-Cohen and her husband spent Shabbat (and stayed on until Monday) comfortably and well-fed.

“It was an utterly delightful few days,” says Tobias-Cohen, tells Chabad.org.

The weekend became a group affair. In addition to hosting the pair in a guest suite, the Wilanskys welcomed a family from Queens, N.Y., who needed a place to park their RV. They also invited friends of the Cohens, in town to attend a Jewish naming ceremony, for a meal, along with the family whose daughters had just been named.

The Chabad couple moved to Bangor in 2015, establishing a way station—a B&B, of sorts—for travelers looking for kosher food, a place to stay and Shabbat plans tied to visits to Acadia, a 47,000-acre recreational area that grips the rocky Atlantic Coast. They also deliver kosher meals during the week to nearby hotels. Visitors come year-round, many of them hailing from such East Coast states as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, according to the rabbi. Israelis are also found among the tourists, drawn to the area’s spectacular hiking, scenery and quiet escape.

The rabbi, who also leads Congregation Beth Abraham, an Orthodox synagogue in Bangor, is the son of longtime Chabad emissaries Rabbi Moshe and Chana Wilansky. The elder Wilanskys, who have 13 children, have directed Chabad Lubavitch of Maine in Portland since 1987. The younger Wilansky and his wife moved two hours north of Portland—Maine’s largest city, which sits at the southern part of the state and where the Chabad center has always assisted travelers—for the chance to be a resource for Jews who reside in central Maine and those passing through it.

“It’s a small Jewish community, but every Jew is a gem,” he says. “We look at each person individually; every person is a whole world.”

Local or tourist, he and his wife, who have three children under 3 (their youngest was just born), work to ensure that Jewish needs are met. In addition to classes and Torah learning, they host Friday-night dinners, make home visits and deliver freshly-baked challah to community members.

“We like being here for other people—just being here for other Jews,” explains Wilansky, “and relaying the message stressed by the Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory], of love for a fellow Jew.”

‘A Solid Connection’

Mendel Wuensch, 22, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was one of two rabbinical students who traveled to Maine this summer as part of the Merkos Shlichus “Roving Rabbis” program, where he spent a few weeks connecting with area residents and tourists. He and Mendel Wineberg, of Manchester, England, rose early and tried to help make a minyan at Congregation Beth Abraham before hitting the road to visit community members at their homes and around town.

A stop at an area gas station led them to a Fourth of July parade, where they met more Jews as they marched with the broader population through the town’s main streets. They ended up having a bar mitzvah for a middle-aged man and talking to people about Jewish practices, like men wrapping tefillin and women lighting Shabbat candles. They also ran a public event featuring a Jewish educational video and discussion.

“We made a solid connection with approximately 30 families and met more than 100 people,” Wuensch says of their travels. “It definitely gave me a feeling that there’s very much a need for emissaries out there, and I felt more of a need for myself to become one.”

For Lisa Littlejohn and her husband, Frederick, who moved to Bangor because of a work opportunity about seven years ago, Chabad provides a sense of community and an opportunity to learn. She feels fortunate to have the Wilanskys in town; among other programs, Esther Wilansky provides the Littlejohns’ 5-year-old twin daughters with weekly private lessons in Jewish subjects and ran a weeklong summer camp that the girls attended.

Littlejohn believes that a Jewish upbringing can help give her children a solid moral foundation and a strong Jewish identity.

She’s also excited for others to learn about what Chabad has to offer. “Hopefully, the word will get out,” she says. “We’re hoping that the Jews who are here will be inspired to participate, and that more Jews will move to the area.”

By: Karen Schwartz (Chabad.org)