SECAUCUS, N.J. – Warren Webber has enjoyed his long career in the electronics business. But nine years ago, he decided to venture into the relish business.

“It started as a joke,” the gregarious West Hartford resident told the Ledger from his Warren’s Foods booth at Kosherfest 2011 in the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, New Jersey in October. The two-day kosher food trade show featuring kosher food, foodservice, drink, wine and Jewish gifts from around the world is the largest of its kind.

“It was a 60 year old recipe,” says Warren.”
“He tweaked it and tweaked it!” adds wife, Carol, as the couple scooped samples of “Webber’s Original Relish—Olde Tyme Pepper Recipe” and “Louie’s Original Salsa” onto scooping chips for curious visitors to sample.
TheWarren’s Food websitedescribes the relish, which comes in mild, medium and hot, as “an all natural kosher product created with no preservatives and produced in Connecticut.”  Both products are bottled in New Haven and are available in 177 stores from Connecticut to New Jersey.

While the Webbers were the only Connecticut company with a booth at the 23rd annual Kosherfest, they were not the only “mom and pop” company on hand.   Viktoria Sater, a Long Island mother of three, recently started Viktoria’s Gourmet Foods.  She and her husband offered samples of Viki’s Granola to visitors.  Dawn Wolstein-Petrini and her  husband, Mauro, owners of the Gelato Shoppe Petrini, were also busy dishing out a dozen flavors of dairy and pareve gelato from their cart.  Rabbi Adam Mintz, spiritual leader of the Congregation Kehilat Rayim Ahuvim, a Modern Orthodox shul on New York’s Upper West Side, along with his wife and several friends who were decked out in royal blue “The Chosen Mint” t-shirts, were giving out samples of “Rabbi Mintz’ Classic Kosher Mints.”

Of course, more established companies like Manischewitz and Osem had large display booths.  Well-known companies like Dr. Prager’s, Gold’s Horseradish and Guss’ Pickles were also on hand, giving out samples of products, old and new. Countries displaying kosher products included Israel, Argentina, the Philippines, Finland, Canada, England, Australia, France, Scotland, Brazil, Ecuador, Japan, and the Former Soviet Union.
Israeli companies received several new product awards: for best new frozen entrée (Ta’amati Meat Flavor Meatless bourekas); best new jam or preserve (Tishbi Passion Fruit Champagne Preserve); best new dips, spreads, salsas (Sabra Guacamole); and best new savory and salty snack food (Bamba Halva).

An Argentinean company, Marumatok SA, won an award for best new wine, beer or spirit (Fincas Marumatok Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec).

All visitors to Kosherfest were made aware of a few very important facts about today’s kosher food market:  there are an estimated 12,250,000 kosher consumers in the U.S. who help support a $12,500,000,000 market in kosher food. Given that only 1.3 million of these people are Jewish year-round kosher consumers, it stands to reason that many of the consumer who buy kosher include others, including Muslim halal consumers, and those looking for vegetarian and non-dairy products.

According to Menachem Lubinsky, founder and co-producer of Kosherfest, “Natural, healthy and gluten-free products continue to grow among new kosher product categories, as an estimated 18 million people in the U.S. are sensitive to gluten.”

Examples of products that appeal to these demographics that were on display at this year’s Kosherfest include Mon Cuisine Vegetarian Entrees, Sage V Foods’ IQF Rice (individually quick frozen) and various meat-free, vegetable protein entrees from Wholesome Cuisine.

Companies like Manischewitz continue to innovate and diversify. “We strive to be a 52 week a year company—not just for Passover,” reports Alain Bankier, co-president and CEO of the Manischewitz Company.  His company introduced more than forty new products in such categories as Mediterranean food, comfort food and health and wellness food.  They will also be introducing vending machines in such locations as airports that carry frozen blintzes, egg rolls and knishes which can be heated to the proper temperature and level of crispness.  And Gold’s Horseradish company now manufacturers such  “modern” products as duck sauce, salsa and wasabi that sit on grocery store shelves next to oldies-but-goodies like borscht and schav.


Read more

Original article

When I started teaching Max, it was unclear if he’d even set foot in the synagogue on his bar mitzvah day. As his parents explain in this beautiful, moving video, Max loves “Blues Clues” and is motivated by French fries. Aliyah l’torah and d’var torah were not likely to be part of Max’s bar mitzvah–we did not know at first what a Max bar mitzvah might look like. Max is a young man with autism and limited expressive language.

After several sessions working with Max in his home—singing songs, clapping, reading stories and putting “Blues Clues” on such objects as challah, candle sticks and a kipah, we began taking Max to his synagogue, Town and Village Synagogue in Manhattan, to meet with Cantor Shayna Postman. The synagogue had never celebrated the bar mitzvah of a boy with autism, but they were open to working with Max and his family.

Shayna knew of Max’s love of music and began playing guitar for and with Max. Max enjoyed looking at Shayna’s mouth as she sang—and he had a special pick for strumming on her guitar. Together, they sang the Shema. And played drums for Halelu. Little by little, it seemed Max just might celebrate his bar mitzvah in the shul.

On the Sunday of Chol Ha Moed Sukkot, Max entered the synagogue—with his IPad and headphone. He didn’t agree to wear a tie or jacket, but he did wear nice khaki pants, a white shirt and a kipah. The cantor welcomed the guests, and his parents told Max it was time to put away the Ipad. His family presented Max with a tallis, which he wore proudly. He carried a small torah, shook a lulav and etrog (for his Sunday of Sukkot bar mitzvah), and stood at the torah offering one word answers to the cantor’s question about things he loved (“mommy, daddy, music, French fries, baby sitter Stacy…”). 

While Max did not say the Torah blessings, read from the Torah or deliver a d’var torah, Max truly became bar mitzvah that day. The cantor’s love for Max was obvious to the fifty guests in attendance. She bothered to get to know Max and appreciated Max’s abilities while also understanding his limitations. 

Cantor Postman delivered a beautiful mi sheberach prayer for Max. My hope and prayer is that more rabbis and cantors will continue to create caring communities where the Max’s of this world will have a Jewish home.

Read more

Original Article On The Jerusalem Post

Currently ranked 708 in the world for singles and 848 for doubles, Valeria Patiuk is the youngest player on Israel’s Fed Cup team.

NEW YORK It is hard to resist the comparisons between Valeria Patiuk and her idol, Shahar Peer.

Both are hard-hitting tennis players who grew up on the courts of the Israel Tennis Centers, and both reached their first professional final at the age of 15 Peer in 2002, and Patiuk earlier this year in Ra’anana, at an Israel Tennis Federation tournament.

Shahar is my role model. She is a fighter, she plays with her heart and soul, and she does a good job representing Israel, noted Patiuk, at a pre-US Open match interview, in front of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York.

The 15-year-old Patiuk, known as Lera, earned a spot in the juniors tournament after winning two matches in this week’s qualifying tournament.

The number 16 seed defeated Katrine Steffensen of the United States 6-3, 4- 6, 7-5, and Natalia Maynettoof the United States 6-2, 6-4.

After earning her spot in the main draw, Patiuk scored a 6-4, 6-3 win over Ukraine’s Ganna Poznikhirenko on Monday before facing Grace Min of the US late Tuesday night.

Patiuk, born in the Ukraine, moved to Israel at age one, and has been playing tennis since age six. She trains daily in Ramat Hasharon as part of the Elite Program of the Israel Tennis Centers.

Currently ranked 708 in the world for singles and 848 for doubles, she’s the youngest player on Israel’s Fed Cup team, where she plays with Pe’er.

Lera is a unique young lady, said Asaf Yamin, Patiuk’s coach for the past year. She is dedicated, likes to practice, and she is open.

I hope she can keep her character on the court. She is serious, and intense, and enjoys what she does.

Everybody compares Lera to Shahar on a daily basis, he added. Shahar is a good role model, but Lera has to focus on Lera and keep progressing. I hope she’ll have a career similar to Shahar’s.

Yamin is delighted that three Israelis have qualified for the main juniors draw: Patiuk, Or Ram-Harel and Bar Botzer.

It has been more than ten years since three Israelis have made it into the main juniors draw, noted Yamin.

All three will also play in the junior doubles tournament.

A fourth Israeli, Daniel Skripnik lost to Brazilian Karue Sell 7-6, 6-1 in his first-round qualifying match.

Danny Gelley, CEO of Israel Tennis Centers, is similarly pleased.

“We are very proud and happy with the progress of our top juniors this year, Gelley said. The long and winding road to the top is paved by thousands of grueling hours in the sun, on the court and in the gym. I take my hat off to the players and their dedicated coaches for this milestone success and look forward to many more good things which I am sure are going to happen.

All three Israelis played their first round singles matches Monday, on court 15.

In the first match of the day, Ram-Harel, a 16-year-old right-handed player from Haifa, defeated Dennis Novak of Austria 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.

The trainer was called to attend to Ram-Harel in both the first and second sets.

My body was hurting, Ram-Harel said. “I had cramps in my legs, and my head felt like it was spinning.

The three hour, ten minute match took place under very hot, humid midday conditions, and Ram- Harel – playing in his first Grand Slam event appreciated the support and chants of the pro-Israeli crowd.

He played Joao Pedro Sorgi of Brazil (the 14th seed) in the second round on Tuesday.

Coach Yamin describes Ram-Harel as a big fighter with good court presence. He plays every point with his heart.

Yamin is impressed that he is already in the main draw at age 16, still with two years of junior eligibility left.

Yamin, who is traveling with and supervising all four players while in New York, coached the 17-year-old Bar Botzer when he was 13.

[Botzer] is very unique and very mature, Yamin said. “He is always improving and has great potential.

Botzer squandered a firstset win in his first round match against Kaichi Uchida of Japan, and Uchida went on to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Today I lost because my biggest weapon, my serve, didn’t work,” Botzer said.

At the conclusion of the Botzer match, Lera Patiuk took the court against Poznikhirenko.

Patiuk experienced abdominal pain while up 5- 4 in the first set, but went on to win 6-4, 6-3.

“I served very well today. My serve was the key for the match, reported Patiuk. I have had pain in my stomach muscles for the past two weeks. It is getting better day by day, but I felt stomach pain while serving.

The hard-hitting, grunting Patiuk gave herself encouragement through shouts of Come on! and “Kadima! This is my first time playing in the US Open and my first Grand Slam, she says.

I think my two qualifying matches gave me confidence and I am beginning to believe in myself again.

Read more

Original Article Published On The Jerusalem Post

NEW YORK – Israeli tennis players competed in male and female singles and doubles events in this years recently completed US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York.

Peer, Sela, Ram and Erlich, and their juniors counterparts Patiuk, Ram-Harel and Botzer proudly represented Israel; only Ram-Harel advanced past the second round.

A lesser known Israeli tennis player, Noam Gershony – also Israel’s highest ranked player – participated in the 2011 US Open Wheelchair Competition, in both wheelchair quad singles and doubles.

Gershony, is the third ranked quads singles player in the world and 9th ranked doubles player.

Signs outside the courts informed spectators that “wheelchair tennis began in California in 1976. Since then, it has grown to be played on six of the seven continents (all but Antarctica) and currently there are more than 170 tournaments on the wheelchair professional tour.”

The US Open Wheelchair Division was established in 2005 as one of the premiere wheelchair tennis events in the world.

There are two divisions – wheelchair division and quads division.

Athletes in this first division have disabilities only in their lower extremities.

Quad athletes have disabilities in both lower and upper extremities; they are classified based on disability, rather than by gender.

Quads tennis is therefore one of the only sports where both men and women compete against each other equally.

US Open wheelchair matches are identical to other US Open events –they are played on regulation courts, there is a chair umpire, line judges and ball children.

The only difference from other tennis events is that balls are allowed to bounce up to two times before being returned.

This years US Open Quads featured four top male players, who faced each other over three days in a roundrobin tournament.

On Thursday, Peter Norfolk of Great Britain, ranked No. 1 in the world and nicknamed “The Quadfather,” defeated Nick Taylor of the US, 6-2, 7-5.

Taylor is the defending US Open quad doubles champion and one of the top American wheelchair tennis players in the world.

Gershony, the 24 year old player from Kfar Saba, served as an Apache helicopter pilot in the Israeli Army. Ironically, Gershony reports, he had taken his first tennis lessons (five in total) prior to the crash of his Apache helicopter in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War; the crash left him paralyzed.

Coach Nimrod Bichler, accompanied Gershony to the US Open and has worked with wheelchair tennis players at Beit Halochem in Tel Aviv for the past fifteen years.

In Thursday’s match, Gershony defeated David Wagner of the US, 6-3, 6-1.Wagner is the world’s No. 2 singles player and No. 1 doubles player; his career singles record is 448-72; his doubles record is 299-49.

In a post-match interview, the good natured Gershony reports, “It is always easy being the underdog – there is no expectations and less pressure.”

Gershony attended the 2010 US Open as a spectator.

He spent much of 2011 competing.

He has captured four singles titles, and he has climbed to No. 3 in the world in singles.

“My main goal is to get the points needed to reach the 2012 Paralympics in London, England.”

In Friday’s second-round matches, Wagner defeated Taylor 6-0, 6-2 while Norfolk defeated Gershony, his doubles partner, 7-5, 6-2.

“As usual, he kicked my [butt],” reported the smiling Gershony.

“If I win tomorrow, I get to play him again in two days.”

Saturday’s quads doubles championship was a Wagner/ Taylor walkover victory over Norfolk and Gershony, due to a Norfolk injury.

Read more