Author Archives: meyer


Judaism has witnessed a revival in Poland and we are happy to celebrate it,’ said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund

The Polish city of Lodz hosted its first-ever Jewish celebratory event, The Festival of Tranquility, over the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. The festival, organized by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, in collaboration with Shavei Israel emissary to Lodz Rabbi David Szychowski, was a singular event connecting art and spirituality. The festival featured films, Torah study, workshops in calligraphy and cooking, a concert, and more.
“In order to listen to yourself and reflect on the reality around us, you need time and space,” said Szychowski. “The residents of Lodz joined us to take pause, open up to one another, and learn about the contemporary life of the Polish Jewish community.”
The Festival of Tranquility began Saturday, June 8, with a night of Torah study in honor of Shavuot, when Jews traditionally gather to study. The following day featured a tour of Lodz and its historical landmarks. On Tuesday, the Jewish Community Center commemorated the life of Maurycy Gutentag, the chief of the First Department of the Fire Brigade, and unveiled his tombstone in a ceremony led by Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich.

Rabbi David Szychowski gives the Lodz community a lecture on Jewish topics – Photo credit: Natalia Soral-

On September 8, 1939, German forces entered Lodz and immediately began targeting and terrorizing Jews, who constituted 34 percent, or 223,000 people, of the city’s pre-war population of 665,000. In early 1940, the Nazis forced more than 164,000 Jews to live within the confines of the Lodz Ghetto, which was surrounded by barbed-wire and a fence and had no running water or electricity. It was the second-largest ghetto, after that of Warsaw, established by the Germans during the Holocaust. Residents of the ghetto came primarily from Lodz and surrounding areas but also from further afield, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Luxembourg.
In January 1942, the Germans began deporting Jews from the Lodz Ghetto to Nazi concentration camps. The Nazis and SS stormtroopers liquidated the ghetto between August 9-28, 1944, in the process deporting more than 60,000 residents, mostly Jews, to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps. By the war’s end, only about 900 of the Jews of the Lodz Ghetto had survived.

The Lodz community takes a tour of the area’s historical landmarks -Photo credit: Natalia Soral

“Despite the fact that thousands of young Poles have parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents who had to hide their Jewish identity for decades, Judaism has witnessed a revival in Poland since the downfall of Communism and we are happy that we can celebrate it,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund.
Prior to the outbreak of World War II, Poland was home to more than 3 million Jews. Today, there are approximately 4,000 Jews officially registered as living in Poland, but according to experts there are tens of thousands of people throughout the country whose forbears chose to hide their Jewish identity due to the persecution they suffered under Nazism and Communism. In recent years, a growing number of such people, popularly known as the “Hidden Jews of Poland,” have begun to explore their connections to Judaism and the Jewish people – and many have returned to Judaism.
New York Jewish Travel Guide

Give Art with Soul this Rosh Hashanah

This Rosh Hashanah, delight your host with an indelible tribute to Jewish heritage.The History of the Star of David by Marc Bennett features 18 Star of David images meticulously selected for their historical significance, presented in a striking array of colors. The collage depicts the evolution of this iconic star, from the first known use through its most recent appearance on the flag of the State of Israel.

“Gifting an item with history or related to a personal story is a great opportunity to show how well you know someone” says gifting guru Simone LeBlanc.

Marc Bennett’s The History of the Star of David is an artwork that is immediately engaging, drawing the viewer into its world on many levels. Color is used boldly and deliberately, creating a mood that is both exciting and emotional. Bennett’s careful selection and juxtaposition of the images of the Star of David establishes a stimulating narrative and visual rhythm. The visuals seem both familiar, as well as newly discovered, expansive yet contained. The History of the Star of David evokes a sense of survival and determination, while celebrating Jewish culture, tradition and faith.

“The History of the Star of David is a radiant work of art that serves as a daily reminder of the tremendous journey the Jewish people have endured and our shared role in crafting the next great chapter in Jewish history,” remarks Ron B. Meier, PhD, Executive Director, American Society for Yad Vashem. “We are honored to have it prominently displayed at Yad Vashem in Israel and in our offices in NYC.”

Ten percent of all art sales of The History of the Star of David artwork benefit the life-saving mission of Soroka Medical Center located in Be’er Sheva, Israel. Metal artworks that are ready to hang and paper prints are available in various sizes perfect for your home, office, and gifting. Sizes range from 10” x 15’’ to 40” x 60’’ available for purchase at

New York Jewish Guide

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away

More than 1.1 million people were murdered behind the barbed-wire fences of Auschwitz between May 1940 and January 1945. How could this happen?

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. is the most comprehensive exhibition dedicated to the history of Auschwitz and its role in the Holocaust ever presented in North America. It is now on view at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Lower Manhattan for a limited engagement.

Featuring more than 700 original objects and 400 photographs, the New York presentation of the exhibition allows visitors to experience artifacts from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum on view for the first time in North America, including hundreds of personal items—such as suitcases, eyeglasses, and shoes—that belonged to survivors and victims of Auschwitz.

Other artifacts include concrete posts that were part of the fence of the Auschwitz camp; fragments of an original barrack for prisoners from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp; a desk and other possessions of the first and the longest serving Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss; a gas mask used by the SS; Picasso’s Lithograph of Prisoner; and an original German-made Model 2 freight train car used for the deportation of Jews to the ghettos and extermination camps in occupied Poland.

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. was conceived of by Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and curated by an international panel of experts, including world-renowned scholars Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Dr. Michael Berenbaum, and Paul Salmons, in an unprecedented collaboration with historians and curators at the Research Center at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, led by Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz.

The exhibition features artifacts and materials—never before seen in North America—on loan from more than 20 institutions and private collections around the world, including Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, and the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oświęcim.

Throughout its presentation of Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away., the Museum will host a series of related public, educational, and scholarly programming, featuring world-renowned experts on the Holocaust. The Museum will also expand its work with students in the tri-state area and introduce complementary educational tools for in-class and onsite use.

Following the New York presentation, the exhibition is intended to tour other cities around the world.

For more information, visit


Bride and groom, who returned to Judaism after discovering their

Jewish roots as ‘Bnei Anousim,’ are married in southern Italian province of Calabria


For the first time in over 1,500 years, the ruins of a synagogue dating back to the 4th century in the Calabria area of southern Italy played host to a Jewish wedding this week. Dr. Roque Pugliese and Dr. Ivana Pezzoli, both of whom are Bnei Anousim (descendants of Iberian Jews forcibly converted during the 14th and 15th centuries), were married earlier this week under the Chupa (wedding canopy) in an emotional and historic ceremony at the site of the synagogue, the second-oldest ever found in Europe.

Pugliese’s parents hid their Jewish roots while he grew up in Calabria and Argentina. Upon discovering his heritage, Pugliese decided to formally return to Judaism with assistance from the Shavei Israel organization. While Pezzoli was raised with certain Jewish traditions in her family, she was never told why. Upon researching her family history, she found that she had Jewish roots and embarked on an extensive study of Judaism for more than eight years before undergoing formal conversion. Pugliese and Pezzoli, both of whom are medics and met while working at a local hospital, are now living religiously observant Jewish lives.

The wedding took place Tuesday, June 4, in the archaeological park adjacent to the southern Italian seaside village of Bova Marina, where the remains of a synagogue were unearthed in 1983 during the construction of a road. Among the items discovered were a mosaic floor with colorful tiles portraying images of a Menorah, a shofar, and a lulav and etrog, as well as a walled niche where the Aron Kodesh, or Holy Ark which contained Torah scrolls, once stood. The ruins face directly towards Jerusalem. Pugliese and Pezzoli chose the site for their traditional Jewish wedding as a tribute to their ancestors.

Photos courtesy of Shavei Israel.

“It was a remarkably moving experience to watch Roque and Ivana get married under the Chupa amid the ruins of Bova Marina’s ancient synagogue,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund, who assisted the couple with their return to their Jewish roots and was invited as a special guest. “Their wedding symbolizes the eternity of the Jewish people and we hope it will inspire other descendants of Jews in southern Italy to return to their roots,” he noted, adding that, “Against all the odds, the Jewish spark in southern Italy and Sicily continues to glimmer after so many centuries. We must intensify our outreach efforts to the Bnei Anousim of southern Italy and help them to reconnect with their heritage.”

In addition to Freund, among those attending the wedding were Rabbi Giuseppe Momigliano, chief rabbi of Genova; Rabbi Elia Richetti of Milan and Naples; Rabbi Gad Fernando Piperno, the chief rabbi of Florence; and Mrs. Noemi Di Segni, President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI). The wedding was presided over by Rabbi Umberto Piperno, former Chief Rabbi of Naples. Dozens of Bnei Anousim from throughout southern Italy and Sicily came to Bova Marina to participate in the festivities.

Photos courtesy of Shavei Israel.

About the Bnei Anousim

Beginning in 1391, a century before the expulsion of Spain’s Jews, widespread anti-Semitic pogroms swept across the country, leaving thousands dead and many communities devastated. In the decades that followed, there were waves of forced conversions as part of an increasingly hostile and dangerous environment for Jews. This reached a climax in 1492, when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella gave Spain’s remaining Jews a dire choice: convert or leave forever. Large numbers chose exile. But untold numbers of forcibly converted Jews, as well as those who voluntarily underwent baptism, remained. Many of these Bnei Anousim (Hebrew for “offspring of those who were coerced”) bravely continued to cling to Jewish practice, covertly passing down their heritage from generation to generation.

In 1497, the King of Portugal presented the Jews living in his realm, who numbered as many as 20% of the population, with an even more dastardly choice: convert or die. Some chose death, but most of Portuguese Jewry was dragged to the baptismal font and compelled to accept Catholicism against their will. Many of these “New Christians,” however, did their utmost to remain loyal to their Jewish roots, passing down the faith and practices of their ancestors across the generations. And while many were made to pay a heavy price by the Inquisition for their continued fidelity to Judaism, many others somehow succeeded in preserving their Jewish identity.

Photos courtesy of Shavei Israel.

About the Jewish presence in Calabria

Legend has it that the first Jews arrived in Calabria possibly as slaves after the Romans sacked Jerusalem and burned the Second Temple in the year 70 CE, but the first historical evidence points to a Jewish presence in the region in the 4th century. The 12th-century Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela mentions the existence of a Jewish community in Calabria. After the expulsion of Spain’s Jews in 1492, many fled east and sought refuge in Calabria. But the Inquisition followed shortly thereafter, and a series of expulsions and forced conversions took place in the region in the 16th century, culminating in 1541 with a decree that all Jews must either leave Calabria or convert to Catholicism. A number of the area’s synagogues were seized and turned into churches, but many of the forcibly-converted Calabrian Jews continued to practice Judaism in secret. Today, Calabria is best known among Jews for its etrogim (citrons), which have been used for over 1,000 years in Europe and Israel on the holiday of Sukkot.

New York Jewish Guide

Russian Division Signature Event hosted by UJA-Federation of New York honoring Jane Greyf of Latham & Watkins

The UJA-Federation of New York celebrated the 31st Anniversary of its Russian Division on Wednesday night, June 5th, at the Harmonie Club in New York City.  Over 300 people came out to participate in this special event.  A wonderful buffet dinner was served and the After Party attracted an even larger crowd.  The overriding theme of the evening was the impact that the UJA has on changing lives; saving lives.  People who attend and support these events and are active in organizations such as UJA truly care about others and their quality of life.  More so than any other organization, the UJA provides a protective umbrella to Holocaust survivors, the elderly, New Yorkers in need and to our brethren in Israel.  For over 100 years the UJA has been providing food pantries and efficient ways to get food to people’s homes.  The UJA was there for victims of terror attacks such as in Parkland and Pittsburgh.  Over the last ten years, the UJA has allocated over $81 million dollars for disaster relief.  Clearly an organization worthy of our support.

Mr. Boris Fishman, award- winning author of Savage Feast and A Replacement Life addressing the audience – New York Jewish Guide

The Master of Ceremonies for this signature event was the novelist Mr. Boris Fishman who also hosted the event in 2016.  As a proud grandson of Holocaust survivors, he elaborated on the support the UJA provides for Holocaust survivors in New York.  Over 40 percent (16,000) of 40,000 Holocaust survivors in New York are living in poverty.  In Israel 50,000 Holocaust survivors are living in poverty.  UJA is there to provide help with caregiver services, money management advice and just to provide an ear to listen.  UJA supported Blue Card alone supports 2500 survivors.  Mr. Fishman provided copies of his book Savage Feast which tells his family history through recipes.

Keynote Speaker Mr. David Moore Chairman of the Board for UJA addressing the audience – New York Jewish Guide

The Keynote Speaker Mr. David Moore has been Campaign Chairman for UJA for 3 years and is now Chairman of the Board.  He thanked the Russian community for their support to the organization and for helping Jews in need.  Most importantly he pointed out the impact that the UJA has on people’s lives.  He spoke of his 4 visits to Israel where he met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and of his trip to Jordan where he met with King Abdullah.  But nothing was as impactful as his meeting with Holocaust survivors in Jerusalem.  He also saw first hand how UJA supported Achim L’Chaim helps our soldiers in Israel and victims of terror.

Ms. Jane Greyf receiving the Lydia Varelian Leadership Award – New York Jewish Guide

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Lydia Varelian Leadership Award to Ms. Jane Greyf.  Ms. Greyf is truly deserving of the honor as recounted by her friend and presenter, Ms. Rada Sumareva.  From her humble beginnings, Ms. Greyf came to the U.S. with her family in 1988 and ascended to partner in the New York law offices of Latham and Watkins.  Using her skills honed at the prestigious Wexner Fellowship program, Ms. Greyf developed into an outstanding Jewish leader.  Her professionalism, her generosity and her passion for volunteering in the Jewish community ultimately led to her becoming a member of the UJA Russian Division Board.  Ms. Greyf, we are proud of you and you deserve this honor.

UJA -Federation of New York honoring Ms. Jane Greyf – New York Jewish Guide

Let us all do our best to reach out to our brethren this year, no matter where they may live.  The Torah teaches us that “we are all responsible one for another.”  And the UJA  has the apparatus to make this happen with our support.  Just remember that without the UJA there is so much more pain and suffering.  Let us help alleviate it.

Looking forward to next year’s event.

Austin Rybstein, Editor New York Jewish Guide

United Hatzalah Raises $5.5 Million at 2nd Annual NYC Gala

This past Thursday, Friends of United Hatzalah raised $5.5 Million at their annual 2nd gala dinner in New York City. The event brought 1,300 people from all over the city and surrounding areas in support of the lifesaving EMS work that United Hatzalah does in Israel and other countries around the globe.

The gala included an award presented to U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who has been a strong supporter of the organization and was a former board member prior to his becoming Ambassador. Friedman spoke to the gathered crowd about how vital it is to support the work of the organization. The Ambassador was introduced by United Hatzalah Chairman and renowned philanthropist Mark Gerson. Other VIPs included Consul General Danny Dayan and Dov Glickman a personal friend of Eli Beer’s who surprised the audience with his guest appearance.

The event highlighted a number of innovations by the organization aimed at generating involvement by the younger generation of budding Jewish leaders including the inauguration of the Ezra Schwartz memorial award to honor young people who care about acts of loving kindness, charity, and supporting Israel. Ezra’s mother, Ruth Schwartz, spoke about the award named in honor of her son who was murdered in a terror attack in Gush Etzion on November  19th, 2015. Ezra himself had donated an ambucycle together with four friends for his own bar mitzvah. Since his death, two other ambucycles have been donated in his honor.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman – (Photography Credit: Yadin Photography)

“The gala has been the most successful event that Friends of United Hatzalah has organized in the United States,” said Vice President Michael Brown. The organization held similar gala dinners in March in Los Angeles and another back in November in London, England.

“We are so thankful for the outpouring of support that we received this past Thursday from the community in New York,” said President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer. “The community here in this city loves Israel and truly understands the importance of the work that we do in saving lives. We are always looking for new and exciting ways to engage the community here and get them involved. I want to give a special thank you to Stewie Rahr for matching 36 ambucycles. Stewie’s gesture no doubt inspired many young people who have never donated before to start getting involved and hopefully many more donations to come.”

Rounding out the night was the International Gala Chairperson Ami Pomeranc, New York City Gala Chair Mitchell Moinian, Rose Spiegel, President of Young Leadership, MC Rona Lee Shimon from the hit TV series Fauda, and performer Dudu Aharon who treated the crowd to a lively performance. The star-studded group wowed the attendees who showed their gratitude to the organization by donating 76 ambucycles, 2 ambulances, a special command center vehicle, 2 ATV Ambutractors, 20 Days of Lifesaving, 50 defibrillators and other miscellaneous donations.

President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer – (Photography Credit: Yadin Photography)

Media contact: Raphael Poch, International Media Spokesperson, United Hatzalah, Jerusalem Cell: +972-52-689-7624;  e-mail:

New York Jewish Guide

The ultimate guide to Israeli-inspired restaurants in New York

Modern Israeli cuisine is a culinary movement spreading across the world with the intention of sharing really good food with really good people.

Everyone knows bagels, shmears, and lox are the holy grail of Jewish cuisine, especially here in New York. But do you know that kubbeh, souvlaki, and labaneh are just as significant in Jewish kitchens today?

Modern Israeli cuisine is redefining the American Jewish palate, thanks to ingredients and foods that Israelis took with them from all corners of the globe in the last 70-plus years.

There’s a lot of mixing the old with the new.

So we have the eggplant-based sabich but instead of throwing it into a pita, we put labaneh, zhoug and cilantro on it.

We have hummus and shawarma that has been elevated to beetroot, rosewater hummus and chanterelle vegan-inspired shawarma.

Israeli food follows the farm-to-table concept: local, fresh, and honest. And in its own way, Israeli food embodies Israeli culture; an explosion of very diverse flavors, the juxtaposition between different textures, prickly and soft.

Modern Israeli cuisine has no formal definition, but it is a culinary movement spreading across the world with the intention of sharing the unique joy we get from eating really good food with really good people.

And it is not just Israeli food that is having a moment.

Israeli chefs and restaurants are taking over the New York food scene, from celebrity chefs (Eyal Shani, Meir Adoni and next Assaf Granit, rumoured to be opening a restaurant in 2019/20) to health-centric concept stores (Clover). Israeli (12 Chairs), Israeli fusion (Zizi Limona, Freda’s) and Israeli-inspired (Golda’s, Lighthouse BK) cuisine is thriving.

Here are our favorite Israeli-inspired restaurants in Brooklyn and Manhattan.


Za’atar crusted salmon at Miss Ada, Brooklyn. Photo via Facebook

 Miss Ada (misada means “restaurant” in Hebrew) is all about the gathering of friends around a table of local ingredients and mouth-watering food. Miss Ada in Fort Greene boasts an open kitchen and an outdoor patio that transports you to Tel Aviv.

Chef/Owner: Tomer Bleichman

184 Dekalb Ave., (917) 909-1023

Miriam is an all-day café, best known for brunch. We’ve heard they make the best feta burekas on this side of the Atlantic. Also they’re walking distance to the Brooklyn Museum.

79 5th Ave., (718) 622-2250

Golda is another open-all-day café with windows, sunlight and strawberry amba (mango chutney)! Healthyish calls Golda “Israeli- leaning” cuisine. I call it the place to visit for refreshing brunch and wake-me-up coffee.

Owner: Danny Nussbaum

504 Franklin Ave., (718) 484-7065

Lighthouse BK in Williamsburg is described as “vegetable forward” by Saveur. Think high-quality, locally sourced, and ethically minded food that you always want more of. A sister restaurant, Lighthouse Outpost, is located in the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan.

Owner: Naama and Assaf Tamir 

145 Borinquen Place, (347) 789-7742

Israeli-inspired tastes at Lighthouse BK. Photo via Facebook

12 Chairs is a Brooklyn institution serving traditional Middle Eastern/Israeli food, and many ingredients are flown in directly from Israel. Yes, there are more than 12 chairs. Yes, they serve alcohol — an extensive collection of boutique Israeli wines.

342 Wythe Ave., (347)-227 7077

Shalom Japan is where Jewish and Japanese cuisine meet. This is the type of place you can only find in Brooklyn. We like the sound of the lox bowl, sake kasu challah with raisin butter, and tuna tataki with black tahini.

Chefs: Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi

310 S 4th St., (718) 388-4012

A brunch dish of quinoa, babaganoush and cauliflower at Zizi Limona. Photo via Facebook

Zizi Limona’s chef, Nir Mesika was born to a Casablanca native and raised in Israel. Zizi Limona brings Israel, Morocco and Italy together for a fun dining experience transcending continents. Do not skip the Turkish coffee. Order a bunch of platters to share or the tapas selection

Chef: Nir Mesika

129 Havemeyer, (347) 763-7437

La Vara brings a special marriage of Moorish and Sephardic cuisine. Try the alcachofas (fried artichoke) and the berenjena con miel (crispy eggplant, honey, melted cheese and nigella seed).

268 Clinton St., (718) 422-0065

MANHATTAN: Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen and Downtown

Miznon epitomizes the Tel Aviv food scene: creative and boisterous. Everything comes in a pita garnished with an elegant and minimal green onion stalk.

Miznon has expanded and now serves arak, whole roasted cauliflower, and laughter in Paris, Melbourne and Vienna. Miznon’s newer and bigger branch uptown is called Miznon North.

Chef/Owner: Eyal Shani  

435 W. 15th St.; 161 West 72nd St., (646) 490-5871

Hraime Skillet at Miznon North features pollock in tomato sauce, tahini and spicy green peppers. Photo via Facebook

HaSalon is proof that Eyal Shani is taking NYC by storm. First he expanded his everything-in-a-pita Miznon empire up north, and now he brings an experiential food ceremony from Tel Aviv to Hell’s Kitchen. Shani’s philosophical food journey is all about the tomato: what is it and where can we take it? For answers, check out @eyaltomato or even better, visit HaSalon. We hear Shani is opening another branch soon!

Chef/Owner: Eyal Shani

735 10th Ave., (212) 495-9024

Nur is a high end gastronomic experience in Gramercy. Reservations are hard to come by so plan ahead. Definitely order the Casablanca chraime and date doughnuts.

Chef: Meir Adoni

34 E. 20th St., (212) 505-3420

Breads is an international branch of the successful Lechamim bakery in Tel Aviv by bread pioneer Uri Scheft. Breads has the best babka in the city and my all-time favorite almond croissant. Come for coffee and a pastry, or pick up a cake for an indulgent weekend dessert.

Chef: Uri Scheft

18 E. 16th St., (212) 633-2253

Kish-Kash is Einat Admony’s newest venture to join the scene. It focuses entirely on North African couscous in a light and airy West Village space full of colorful tiles that will brighten your mood. Be adventurous and try the mafrum; it pairs well with the rosewater-and peach-sangria. Also visit Admony’s recently reopened Balaboosta restaurant.

Chef: Einat Admony

455 Hudson St., (646) 609-5298

Chef Einat Admony of New York City’s Balaboosta, Taim Falafel and Kish-Kash restaurants. Photo by Maya & Michelle Creative

Dez serves colorful and fresh, fast casual food in Soho. The green avocado pita feeds your soul. Chef Eden Grinshpan (Edeneats) is one of the most likable and fun Instagram food influencers today and a judge on “Top Chef Canada.” Dez also hosts monthly fireside chats with women founders and influencers.

Chef/Owner: Eden Grinshpan and Samantha Wasser (of ByChloe)

227 Mulberry St., (212) 674-8002

Clover Café and Clover Grocery provides a local and chic café and health-food store. Come for brunch or stop for sustainable and local produce and ingredients. Leigh Ofer, one of the owners of Clover, also runs an incredible organization called Seed Street, which leverages hydroponic farming tech to sustain urban food-desert communities in Harlem.

Owner: Leigh Ofer

Café: 10 Downing St., (212) 675-4350

Grocery: 259 6th Ave., (212) 255-5383

Gotan is a casual Israel-owned café with branches throughout Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. Gotan pays tribute to coffee culture and serves light and seasonal food with an emphasis on fresh vegetables.

Owner: Arnon Magal

Tribeca: 130 Franklin St., (212) 431-5200

Midtown: 20 W. 46th St., (212) 300-4910

Chelsea: 37 W. 20th St., (347) 230-5257

Williamsburg: 258 Wythe Ave., (718) 384-1872

Jack’s Wife Freda is a love story between a South African and an Israeli, bringing you elevated comfort food in a trendy and yet homey setting. Jack’s Wife Freda has a loyal and devout customer base and is perhaps the first hip brunch place to bring Israeli-inspired food to the masses.

Chefs: Dean and Maya Jankelowitz

50 Carmine St., (646) 669-9888

Claudette near Washington Square Park features a fusion of French and North African/Israeli cuisine served in a bright corner space with an elegant cottage feel.

Chef: Ari Bokovza

24 5th Ave., (212) 868-2424

About the Auhtor:

Daniella Lang  identifies as a Tel Avivian living on the Upper West Side. Currently a student at Columbia University, Daniella is passionate about the Israeli food scene and its broader implications on Levantine culture and society. You can also follow her food adventures across the globe @buddhandbelly.

ISRAEL FILM CENTER FESTIVAL Kicks Off Its 7 th Year With An Exciting Lineup Highlighting Diversity and Orthodox Jewish Life Festival Runs June 3 – 12

New York’s leading Israeli film festival is celebrating its 7 th

edition this June with a powerful lineup of diverse, award-winning, and cutting-edge films and

television programs from Israel. The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan (located at 334

Amsterdam Avenue at 76 th Street) will present feature films and two television series, including

New York premieres, at the 7 th Annual Israel Film Center Festival . Showcasing the best new

films from Israel’s booming film industry and Q&As with acclaimed Israeli filmmakers after select screenings, the festival will run from June 3-12. Visit for more

information and to purchase tickets.

The festival’s Opening Night selection will be Joseph Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan

Yacov’s thought-provoking film REDEMPTION (“Geula”). The story of a devout Chassid who

must return to his rockstar lifestyle in order to pay for his daughter’s medical bills explores the

issue of how to balance one’s religious devotion with art, family, and friendship, all while making

peace with the past. The film won both the Ecumenical Jury Prize and Best Actor award (for star

Moshe Folkenflik) at the 2018 Karlovy Vary Film Festival, and the Audience Award at the 2018

Jerusalem Film Festival. “ Redemption” screens Monday, June 3 at 7 p.m. , followed by a Q&A

with director Boaz Yehonatan Yacov.

The festival’s Closing Night film will be the NY premiere of Sameh Zoabi’ s witty and

warm-hearted TEL AVIV ON FIRE. Making its world premiere at the 2018 Venice Film Festival,

where it won the Orizzonti Award for Best Actor (for Kais Nashif), the film’s North American

premiere took place at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, and it won the Best Film

award at the 2018 Haifa International Film Festival. “ Tel Aviv On Fire” will screen Wednesday,

June 12 at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A with co-writer Dan Kleinman.

Other highlights from this year’s lineup include:

Ethiopian-Israeli filmmaker Aalam-Warqe Davidian ’s beautiful and haunting debut feature FIG

TREE (Winner, Eurimages Audentia Award for Best Female Director at the 2018 Toronto

International Film Festival & Ophir Award nominee for Best Picture), the New York premiere of

Yona Rozenkier ’s semi-autobiographical feature debut and intense family drama THE DIVE

(Winner, Best Israeli Feature Film, Best Actor and Best Israeli Debut Film at the 2018 Jerusalem

Film Festival) and veteran Israeli director Avi Nesher ’s latest film THE OTHER STORY (Official

Selection, 2018 Toronto International Film Festival), one of this year’s most successful Israeli


The festival will honor Nesher, a leading voice in Israeli cinema for over four decades,with a

retrospective on Friday, June 7 , screening two films from his extensive filmography. TURN

LEFT AT THE END OF THE WORLD (2004) was the all time biggest box office success in

Israel and helped revolutionize new Israeli cinema as a profitable industry, and the newly

restored RAGE AND GLORY (1984) which follows a cell of the Stern Gang that begins to fall

apart during an attempt to assassinate a senior British officer in pre-state Israel.

As in previous years, the festival will shine a spotlight on Israeli television, which has become an

international phenomenon and one of Israel’s leading exports.Included will be the New York

premiere of the first two episodes of STOCKHOLM and the first two episodes of

AUTONOMIES. Both will be part of the JCC’s annual free, all-night Tikkun Leil Shavuot event

beginning Saturday, June 8 at 10 p.m. and ending Sunday, June 9 at 4 a.m.

“Beyond the clear trending of Orthodox-themed films, one can also see the diversity of life in

Israel through our selections. Our film themes highlight Arabs, youth at risk, Ethiopians, military,

the young, the elderly—a full spectrum of life,” said Isaac Zablocki, Israel Film Center Festival

director and founder .

The complete program lineup for the 7 th ANNUAL ISRAEL FILM CENTER FESTIVAL is



*Opening Night Film, Monday, June 3, 7 p.m.

Dir. Joseph Madmony & Boaz Yehonatan Yacov, Drama, 104 min.

A devout Chassid must return to his rockstar lifestyle in order to pay for his daughter’s medical

bills in this rousing and affecting story of faith, love, and making peace with the past.

-Winner, Best Actor & the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the 2018 Karlovy Vary Film Festival

-Winner, Audience Award at the 2018 Jerusalem Film Festival.


*NY Premiere, Tuesday, June 4, 6:15 p.m.

Dir. Tsivia Barkai Yacov, 91 min.

Benny’s hair is as red as the fur of her devout father’s treasured calf—which he believes will

bring salvation. As she comes of age, she embarks on a personal journey that will shape her

religious, political, and sexual consciousness.

-Winner, Best Israeli Feature Film & Best Actress (Avigayil Kovary) at the Jerusalem Film

Festival 2018

-Nominated for 4 Ophir Awards (Israel’s Academy Awards)

-Official Selection at the Berlin Film Festival 2018


Tuesday, June 4, 8:30 p.m.

Dir. Eliran Malka, 99 min.

In the early 1980s, after his daughter is kicked out of school because of her ethnic background,

a Sephardic man with absolutely no knowledge of politics decides to fight back and form a

revolutionary political party that will change Israeli politics forever.


*NY Premiere, Wednesday, June 5, 6:15 p.m.

Dir. David Kreiner, 84 min.

Yigal, a middle-aged divorcé and unemployed film director from Tel Aviv, accepts a position

teaching filmmaking in Sderot. Though his students are slow to warm to him, Yigal gains their

trust by coaxing them to film their own stories of love and loss.


Wednesday, June 5, 8:15 p.m.

Dir. Aalam-Warqe Davidian, 93 min.

A Jewish teenager in Ethiopia must navigate a surreal routine dictated by the civil war which,

along with her family’s plans to immigrate to Israel, conflict with her rebellious youthful spirit.

Together with her Christian boyfriend, she weaves an alternate plan. But in times of war, plans

tend to go awry.

-Winner, Eurimages Audentia Award for Best Female Director at the 2018 Toronto International

Film Festival

-Winner, Best Cinematography at the 2018 Ophir Awards (Israel’s Academy Awards) where it

was nominated for five awards, including Best Film & Best Screenplay


Thursday, June 6, 6:15 p.m.

Dir. Avi Nesher, 112 min.

Family disputes and conspiracies take center stage in this lively drama. Sasson Gabai plays a

renowned psychologist who falls out with his granddaughter when she enters a Haredi

community and plans to marry a musician known for his wild ways.

-Premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival


*NY Premiere, Thursday, June 6, 7:30 p.m.

Dir. Yona Rozenkier, 90 min

Set within a ramshackle kibbutz community on the northern border separating Israel from

Lebanon, the film follows a trio of brothers who reunite to bury their father’s body before the

youngest heads off to battle.

-Best Israeli Feature Film prize & Best Debut Film at the 2018 Jerusalem Film Festival


For over four decades, Nesher has been one of the leading voices in Israeli cinema. Both

pioneering and impactful, Nesher’s films are not only some of Israel’s biggest hits, but they

opened the door for Israeli films to succeed in international markets as well. His latest, “The

Other Story” was one of this year’s most successful Israeli films. On Friday, June 7, we will

honor Nesher by showing two films from his extensive filmography:

“Turn Left at the End of the World”: Friday, June 7, 4 p.m.

“Rage and Glory”: Friday, June 7, 6 p.m.


* NY Premiere, Closing Night Film, Wednesday, June 12, 7 p.m.

Dir. Sameh Zoabi, 97 min.

Salam, an inexperienced young Palestinian writer, gets a job on a popular soap opera after a

chance meeting with an Israeli soldier. His creative career is on the rise until the soldier and the

show’s financial backers disagree about how the show should end and Salam is caught in the


-Winner, Orizzonti Award for Best Actor at the 2018 Venice Film Festival

-Best Israeli Film award at the Haifa International Film Festival


Saturday, June 8, 10 p.m. – Sunday, June 9, 4 a.m.

Autonomies (Episodes 1 + 2)

Dir. Yehonatan Indursky + Ori Elon

The series is set in an alternative reality in which Israel is split into two territories—a secular

state with its capital in Tel Aviv and an ultra-Orthodox autonomous zone with Jerusalem as its


Stockholm (Episodes 1 + 2)

*NY Premiere

Dir. Daniel Syrkin

When Avishai is found dead in his bed, his friends decide to hide his death for five days to allow

him to win the Nobel Prize.

About the Israel Film Center

The Israel Film Center of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan is the leading resource for Israeli films in

America, with the goal of expanding Israel’s emerging film industry and promoting Israeli culture in

America. The center, a program of the Carole Zabar Center for Film, serves as an exhibitor, promoter,

educator, funder, distributor, producer, network organizer, advisor, and festival producer, and includes a

viewing library and online database of Israeli cinema and the leading Israeli film streaming site.

About the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Together with its community, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan creates opportunities for people to

connect, grow, and learn within an ever-changing Jewish landscape. Located on 76th Street and

Amsterdam Avenue, the JCC is a vibrant non-profit community center on the Upper West Side. The

cornerstone of progressive programming in Manhattan, the JCC serves over 55,000 people annually

through 1,200 programs each season that educate, inspire, and transform participants’ minds, bodies,

and spirits. Since its inception, the JCC has been committed to serving the community by offering

programs, classes, and events that reach beyond neighborhood boundaries, reaching people at all stages

of their lives. Learn more at .

For Press Inquiries Contact

Festival Publicist, Israel Film Center Festival:

Isil Bagdadi-Sergio / CAVU PR

Email: Tel: 917-375-7615

Director of Public Relations, JCC Manhattan:

Allison Rosen

Email: Tel: 646.505.4493


New York Jewish Guide

A Kosher Gem in the Heart of the United Nations

I recently was invited to the UN Plaza Grill to taste their culinary delights. They offer international cuisine created by award-winning chefs and is truly a hidden gem located in the heart of the United Nations area.

Located in a beautiful, open space with floor-to-ceiling windows and spectacular décor, I sat in the dining room right opposite the mural of those beautiful white tigers that seem to almost leap off the wall. The ambiance is incredible, the red giant “lampshades,” the white leather seats and booths with some Asian inspired red-and-white ones dotted in. We were seated at a booth and as the staff brought out items we could all watch and listen as they explained everything. We were served family style with tastings of some of the restaurant’ s delicious signature dishes. Our media group consisted of the publisher of the New York Jewish Travel Guide, a kosher food blogger, and the deputy managing editor of a local Jewish newspaper.

UN Plaza Grill – New York Jewish Travel Guide

This is what happened….

First up as we sat our Maitre D, Ghandi Kimia, handed us all a cocktail of Champagne with Cassis aka Kir Royale.  We all made an L’ Chaim and got settled for what was about to be a true gastronomic journey. As we sipped our drinks out came a HUGE platter of sushi and sashimi. Beautifully fresh fish presented in a proper “WOW” manner. We had a selection of different roll:

Pink Lady roll – tuna, salmon, yellowtail topped with spicy tuna, crunch, spicy mayo

Duo Ahi Tuna – spicy tuna, jalapeno, pear, pepper, tuna, avocado, wasabi aioli

Volcano – tuna, salmon, mango, crunch, spicy mayo, salmon, yellowtail, avocado

The Pink Lady had the right level of crunch and the Duo Ahi Tuna with the jalapeno, pear, and mango had the right amount of heat and sweet.

There was also a selection of sashimi, buttery soft raw slices of fish that slid down the throat perfectly.

Volcano – tuna, salmon, Mango, crunch, spicy mayo, salmon, yellowtail, avocado – New York Jewish Travel Guide

Next up came a selection of appetizers, this was an entire tasting menu made by the Chef especially for us.

Sichuan Beef Potstickers – sesame, scallion, ponzu hoisin glazed

Lamb Rib with Lamb Samosas

U.N.B.B.Q Short Rib Tacos – pineapple, plum tomato salsa, micro cilantro

More Lamb Samosa

Lamb Rib with Lamb Samosas – New York Jewish Travel Guide

The Short Rib Tacos had a tasty smokey flavor and The Sichuan Beef Potstickers had a good crunch when bitten into but then you got full dumpling deliciousness. Whilst we recovered from the first two courses Gandhi, the Maitre D extraordinaire, brought all who needed a glass of red wine, pairing well with what came next.

What did come next?

The Rack of Lamb – herb roasted fingerling potatoes, french green lentils, garlic confit

Cote de Boeuf – 20 oz. prime ribeye bone in. This was brought out already sliced for the table

Short Rib Bourguignon – truffled wild mushrooms, potato puree, shishito peppers

A selection of sauces

Purple Eggplant side dish

Haricots Verts –  had a peanut-type sauce on them, also a side dish.

Short Rib Bourguignon – truffled wild mushrooms, potato puree, shishito peppers – New York Jewish Travel Guide

The waiter served each of us a tasting from each dish.  I am not sure what they did but this lamb was just perfect, easy to slice, not too fatty. I could almost hear it bleating. When you sliced into the steak it cut like butter and the potatoes, both fingerling and pureed, were totally worth the carbs.

At this point we were all impressively stuffed; yet, for some reason, we all managed to find room for dessert which consisted of…

French Creole Beignets – caramel vanille, chocolat, and crème anglaise.

Tropical Fruit Baked Alaska – vanilla ice cream, passion fruit sorbet, coconut sorbet, torched meringue

Peanut Chocolate – peanut butter mousse, chocolate cake crumb, ganache

Bittersweet Kalamansi – bittersweet chocolate mousse, calamansi lime cream, chocolate ganache

Coffee and Tea

The desserts were amazing and delicious. My personal favorites were Baked Alaska, ice cream surrounded by toasted meringue and the Peanut Buttercream with Chocolate Ganache and the French Beignets with Caramel and Chocolate Sauces.

French Creole Beignets – Caramel Vanille, Chocolat, and crème anglaise. – New York Jewish Travel Guide

UN Plaza Grill has a team of award-winning chefs from across the world who create outstanding and exquisite dishes to entice any taste. The impressive team includes executive chef Hok Chin, who was named one of Best Chefs America, Haitian-born pastry chef Felencia Darius, and sushi chef Kai Hong Chan (AKA Danny) whose sushi dishes are the best in the world. General manager Ghandi Kimia is no stranger in the restaurant industry, with his impressive roster of restaurants including Reserve Cut, Jezebel, Tavern On The Green, Ben Benson’s Steakhouse and Sparks, to name a few. Also keep in mind that the UN Plaza Grill caters for ALL occasions like weddings, bat and bar mitzvahs, holiday events, corporate parties . They can work with you in creating unique menus for Jewish and other holidays.

The excellent quality of the food along with the welcoming staff and luxurious ambiance justify the expensive prices and make the UN Grill a culinary destination you will never forget. All in all it was an incredible evening! A big thank you to UN Plaza Grill for their incredible hospitality and to New York Jewish Travel York Jewish for letting me part of this experience and to my other dining companions for a great evening. We definitely need to do this again!

UN Plaza Grill is located at 845 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY, 10017.  The restaurant is OU Kosher certified. For reservations, call 212-223-1801. Visit the UN Plaza Grill online:  or at

by Deborah Hartman Blaiberg –

New York Jewish Travel Guide-  New York Jewish Guide

Israeli fusion restaurant Zahav wins James Beard award

Michael Solomonov’s Philadelphia eatery garners coveted award from the foundation that has honored the chef himself several times.

Zahav, chef Michael Solomonov’s famed Israeli fusion restaurant in Philadelphia, won the Outstanding Restaurant award at the 2019 James Beard Foundation Awards in Chicago on May 6.

The Israeli-born restaurateur opened Zahav (Hebrew for “gold”) with partner Steve Cook in 2008 with the aim of putting Israeli-inspired dishes and Israeli-produced ingredients on American plates.

Solomonov is no stranger to the vaunted James Beard Awards.

He was a semifinalist Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2008 and 2009, and in 2010 was nominated in the Best Chefs in America category. In 2011, Solomonov received a Best Chefs in America award for the mid-Atlantic region.

He was semifinalist Outstanding Chef in 2015 and was nominated as Outstanding Chef again in 2016. That year, he and Cook won two Beard awards for their first cookbook, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.

In 2017, Solomonov won the Outstanding Chef award.

Solomonov and Cook’s CookNSolo group also owns other eateries in Philadelphia: hummus and Israeli salads restaurant Dizengoff; falafel, fries and shakes vegan joint Goldie; The Rooster Jewish deli; Federal Donuts (which also serves fried chicken); and Abe Fisher, serving small plates inspired by Jewish world cuisine.

The James Beard Foundation’s mission is “to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.”

About the Author:

Abigail Klein Leichman is a writer and associate editor at ISRAEL21c. Prior to moving to Israel in 2007, she was a specialty writer and copy editor at a major daily newspaper in New Jersey and has freelanced for a variety of newspapers and periodicals since 1984.