- Written by Jonathan Danilowitz
Christmas at Layam Sakal Duty Free for diplomats
Israel is the Jewish homeland, but Christmas is well recognized here. Out and loud in recognizing this holiday is the Ambassador’s Club of Israel, under the able auspices of Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan. Last Sunday, in a planned celebration to wish the Israeli Diplomatic Corps a happy holiday season, Mr. Eldan, together with the president of Layam Sakal, Mr. Meir Sakal, arranged a party day for diplomats at the Layam Sakal diplomatic store. Guests were invited for a tour of the store, and at 16:00 a toast was raised to the diplomatic community for a joyous holiday season.
As is the practice worldwide, stores like this, where everything is duty free and tax free and where no VAT is charged, exist for the exclusive convenience of accredited diplomats. Attractive shelves, attractive products and very attractive pricing make shopping there an incentive. Items range from the simple (deodorant, toothpaste), through supermarket specials (coffee, imported cheeses), clothes, shoes, perfumes, alcoholic beverages; even washing machines and gifts of all kinds.
Among the fascinating gifts we found were products marketed by entrepreneur Avi Marom Milberger, chairman of Marom F.G.P. Ltd. The Dead Sea, at 424 meters below sea level, is the lowest place on earth. The sea has a high concentration of natural minerals – and these are the magical components of many products, including cosmetics and – surprise! – candies. Marom Ltd is now marketing various candies, marzipan, chewing gum, energy bars – and of course, salt.
Not just ordinary salt, and there lies the surprise. The richest mineral from the lowest point on earth, in a range of exciting flavors, including rosemary, spinach, dill, paprika, garlic and pepper, amongst others. There is pink salt and black salt and golden salt; wild fire salt and hot chili salt. All marketed under the 424 brand.
Diplomats searching for unique gifts for colleagues and friends will find that Marom products come in attractive gift packs of all sizes. They are unique to Israel (although are to be marketed worldwide in duty free diplomat stores too). The taste is there, the look is there and the price is right. A perfect gift combination.
At the party were ambassadors from many countries, including from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Moldova and Ethiopia. Wines and refreshments added to the festivities, and guests were given gifts of Dead Sea cosmetics and other Dead Sea products.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Photos by Silvia G Golan
- Written by Philippine Embassy
A rich blend of select Arabica beans handpicked from the coffee farms of Benguet Province, got the nod of coffee connoisseurs in Israel after the Philippine Embassy had presented the brew as the country's official entry to the first Diplocoffee Tel Aviv -- an international tasting competition/exhibit held on 25 February 2015.
Organized by the Ambassadors' Club of Israel whose objective is to initiate business forums for foreign diplomatic missions in Israel, the Diplocoffee Tel Aviv featured global leaders in the coffee industry such as Angola, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Italy, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Thailand, and Vietnam. The event was widely covered by the media and attended by major coffee importers and distributors, as well as coffee shop owners throughout Israel.
The Benguet Arabica beans were sourced from the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc. which supported the Embassy in the international coffee exhibit by providing the official entry to the tasting event and magazines/guides on the Philippine coffee industry. The PCBI is a private sector-led group currently serving as the Philippines' National Coffee Development Board responsible for developing the country's coffee industry and promoting it both in local and international markets.
The Philippines, which used to be the world's fourth largest coffee producer and exporter, currently produces around 20,000 metric tons of coffee every year in contrast to its total consumption of 100,000 metric tons. However, the PCBI is taking the lead in reviving and expanding the country's coffee industry through various initiatives and development programs.
Benguet Arabica was chosen as the Philippines' official entry to the Diplocoffee Tel Aviv as the province and its neighboring farms are considered to be among the sources of the country's finest Arabica coffee. With mountains scaling between 5,000 to 7,000 feet, the Cordillera region gets enough moisture and cloud cover to produce richly flavored Arabica beans and other coffee varieties.
Apart from Benguet Arabica, the Embassy also exhibited other products such as the popular and strong flavored Barako coffee and the exotic Alamid coffee which is one of the most expensive and highly coveted coffees in the world. To provide guests, especially potential buyers/importers, with more information about the Philippine coffee industry, the Embassy distributed a CD/kit containing details of the products exhibited, including their manufacturers, a directory of local coffee exporters from DTI and copies of the publications provided by the PCBI.
The Embassy also took advantage of the opportunity to promote Philippine tourism by giving out It's More Fun in the Philippines brochures and including tourism videos in the kit distributed during the event.
The Embassy hopes to contribute to this national thrust through promotion activities such as the recently concluded Diplocoffee Tel Aviv and other economic programs that would attract potential importers and promote Philippine coffee and other local products in the global market.
History of Philippine Coffee
The Philippines is one of the few countries that produces the four varieties of commercially-viable coffee: Arabica, Liberica (Barako), Excelsa and Robusta. Climatic and soil conditions in the Philippines - from the lowland to mountain regions - make the country suitable for all four varieties.
In the Philippines, coffee has a history as rich as its flavor. The first coffee tree was introduced in Lipa, Batangas in 1740 by a Spanish Franciscan monk. From there, coffee growing spread to other parts of Batangas like Ibaan, Lemery, San Jose, Taal, and Tanauan. Batangas owed much of its wealth to the coffee plantations in these areas and Lipa eventually became the coffee capital of the Philippines.
By the 1860s, Batangas was exporting coffee to America through San Francisco. When the Suez Canal was opened, a new market started in Europe as well. Seeing the success of the Batangeños, Cavite followed suit by growing the first coffee seedlings in 1876 in Amadeo. In spite of this, Lipa still reigned as the center for coffee production in the Philippines and Batangas barako was commanding five times the price of other Asian coffee beans. In 1880, the Philippines was the fourth largest exporter of coffee beans, and when the coffee rust hit Brazil, Africa, and Java, it became the only source of coffee beans worldwide.
The glory days of the Philippine coffee industry lasted until 1889 when coffee rust hit the Philippine shores. That, coupled with an insect infestation, destroyed virtually all the coffee trees in Batangas. Since Batangas was a major producer of coffee, this greatly affected national coffee production. In two years, coffee production was reduced to 1/6th its original amount. By then, Brazil had regained its position as the world's leading producer of coffee. A few of the surviving coffee seedlings were transferred from Batangas to Cavite, where they flourished. This was not the end of the Philippines' coffee growing days, but there was less area allotted to coffee because many farmers had shifted to other crops.
During the 1950s, the Philippine government, with the help of the Americans, brought in a more resistant variety of coffee. It was also then that instant coffee was being produced commercially, thus increasing the demand for beans. Because of favorable market conditions, many farmers went back to growing coffee in the 1960s. But the sudden proliferation of coffee farms resulted in a surplus of beans around the world, and for a while importation of coffee was banned in order to protect local coffee producers. When Brazil was hit by a frost in the 1970's, world market coffee prices soared. The Philippines became a member of the International Coffee Organization (ICO) in 1980.
Today, the Philippines produces 30,000 metric tons of coffee a year, up from 23,000 metric tons just three years ago.
Source: Philippine Coffee Board
Photo :Ambassador Neal Imperial (left) invites guests of the Diplocoffee Tel Aviv to the Philippine Booth and promotes
Benguet Arabica and other coffee products exhibited such as Amadeo Coffee Liqueur, Barako Coffee,
and Alamid Coffee, one of the most expensive and most sought after specialty coffees
in the world. At the right is Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan, President of the
Ambassadors' Club of Israel.
Photo : Ambassador Neal Imperial and Second Secretary and Consul Pamela F. Durian-Bailon at the Philippine
Booth (left photo). The Philippines' poster for the Diplocoffee Tel Aviv (right photo).
Photos copyrigth Philipine Embassy
- Written by Office of the President
Welcome to the President's Residence, to the traditional reception held on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.
I'm very pleased to have this special opportunity to welcome you here and to open up this house, to you all, members of the diplomatic corps based in Israel.
We do not celebrate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, with street parties or with dancing late into the night.
The Jewish People celebrates the New Year as a "family holiday" and a time for "soul searching".
Following the events of recent months here in Israel, this period leading up to Rosh Hashana – a period traditionally devoted to looking deep into our souls –
takes on a special meaning this year.
In consideration of the fighting in the south, the people and leaders of Israel had to make difficult decisions:
On one hand we had to protect our citizens, our homes and our land, while on the other hand, we faced the responsibility to avoid harming the innocent, as far as possible;
Inside Israel, the Israeli society faced also a big challenge. We had to maintain our responsibility to enable free speech
While supporting the people who were fighting to bring security to the people of Israel.
* * * * *
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the past, wars took place between countries, but in recent decades, we have had to confront a new form of warfare:
warfare waged between countries and terrorist organizations.
We all know that in war, there are no winners. There is always harm and death.
However, in war between a terror organization and a sovereign state, the terror organization is always in a "win-win situation."
When the terrorist organization succeeds, in causing harm to the country that is fighting against it,
Then according to its own point of view, it has gained a victory.
And if, in response to its actions, it succeeds in drawing the country
into aggressive military action where innocent women and children are killed, then here again,according to its own point of view, it has gained a victory
that will also bring with it the sympathy of public opinion.
Excellencies, distinguished guests,
Israel is a country governed by the Rule of Law.
Furthermore, Israel recognizes the enormous importance of International Law, and the importance of strictly obeying the Laws of War.
Today, however, the international legal system is facing a new type of challenges, a new type of war that is taking place throughout the World.
It now, needs to provide a comprehensive and relevant judicial response to these new wars.
The international Laws of War can no longer ignore this new situation, that is so very different from traditional forms of warfare.
Those, Laws of War, must be adapted so as to become more appropriate for the new reality, that now exists.
* * * * *
Ladies and Gentlemen, Excellencies,
The State of Israel is not at war with Islam.
By the same token, the State of Israel is not at war with the Palestinian people.
I believe that the great majority of Palestinians, who live in Gaza, are innocent.
If the choice was theirs, they would choose to live in a flourishing country with a blooming economy and peaceful relations.
The citizens of Gaza are no different from the citizens of Berlin, Paris, Mexico City, New Delhi, Bucharest or Brussels, they too want to live in peace and security.
The fact, that one and a half million Palestinians are being held hostage by thirty thousand Hamas terrorists is a human tragedy.
Today, sixty-five years from its establishment, Israel is a social and economic miracle.
The State of Israel, is not found only in the heart of the Middle East.
Israel holds out its hand, everywhere, to friendly nations who need assistance during times of disaster.
The State of Israel is found in the heart of the dry lands of African deserts, in Latin America, in Europe and in Asia.
Israel can be found in the heart of computer processors and in the hi-tech industry throughout the world.
You can find Israeli inventions and developments in hospitals in your countries, in the computers you use,
in aid programs to fight drought, to desalinate sea water and to advance agriculture.
You, the ambassadors who are living here, in our country, who are familiar with what is going on here, know this very well.
As ambassadors serving here and also as our ambassadors, it is important that you bring the message of Israel to your own.
When you talk about the State of Israel, please bring the diverse character of Israeli society.
Present Israel in all its true complexity.
Israel is not just a place of conflict, it is a place of life, of a strong economy,
It is a place not trapped in the past, but looking forward towards a promising future.
* * * * *
I recently celebrated my seventy-fifth birthday.
I was born here, and my grandchildren are the ninth generation of my family in this country.
I myself, like my father, my grandfather and my great, great grandfather before me, grew up in Jerusalem.
For all of that long period we shared our lives with the other residents of this land, with all the many communities and beliefs.
There have always been ups and downs, in relations between Jews and Arabs and there will continue to be.
There will be a real change for the better in relations between Arabs and Jews only when both parties accept that we are not been doomed to live here together,
rather, it is our destiny to live here together.
As President, one of my most important tasks is to make the members of Israeli society truly listen to each other, to be more open, more tolerant, more liberal.
This, mainly in relations, with the Arabs who live among us, the Arab population of Israel.
The State of Israel, the Jewish and Democratic State of Israel, is the home, of all that were born here, All those for whom this country is their homeland.
The Arab citizens of Israel must also find in the State of Israel a home, as their right, not as a favor; they must share full and equal rights and recognition,
and must also play a true role in advancing and developing this country.
I pray that during this coming year, the gateways of all our hearts will be open to listening, to cooperation and to mutual commitment.
I pray that during this coming year we shall listen to a symphony of the many voices that shape us, as a state, as a society and as human beings.
I wish you all a very happy and blessed year.
- Written by Jonathan Danilowitz
Did you know that Vietnam is also a coffee producing and exporting country?
Your www.diplomacy.co.il correspondent didn’t know, and that was only one of the interesting and fascinating discoveries at the charming event for diplomats at the Tel Aviv port on Thursday evening. Hosted by Yitzhak Eldan (President of the Ambassadors Club of Israel) at the Loveat Café on the waterfront, the evening was a showcase for the no less than 17 coffee-producing countries with diplomatic ties to the State of Israel. Some of them are the biggest coffee producers in the world.
The representative countries, in no particular order, were Ethiopia, Angola, Nepal, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Kenya, Panama, Thailand, Philippines, D.R. of Congo, El Salvador, Brazil, Honduras and Vietnam. Ambassadors, diplomats and Israeli society members mixed and chatted while having the opportunity to sip and taste the delicious brews of the various countries. Colorful ethnic costumes, plenty of beautiful photographs and lots of literature about the respective countries added beauty and culture to the casual but friendly atmosphere.
Ambassador Eldan welcomed the guests and thanked everyone for coming, and also the Loveat chain, for hosting the event. The introduced the main speaker, H.E. Francesco Maria Talo, ambassador of Italy. Italy is not a coffee-producing country, but is a major coffee consumer; hence the honor accorded the Italian ambassador (who admitted that he personally rarely drinks coffee. “I am the exception that proves the rule”).
Also welcoming the guests was Tal Bodenstein, owner of the Loveat chain. He spoke of the 20 years of coffee culture of the chain, mentioning that their policy is to use organic coffee wherever possible. Also with a brief and interesting introduction was Ofer Gvirtsman, the chain’s “coffee master” – in charge of roasting and preparing the various coffees for the end product we all love to drink. All the ambassadors were then Apresented with certificates recording their presence and contribution to the very successful and unusual diplomatic event.
Mr. Mario Vargas, Economic Commercial Counsellor of the Peruvian Embassy reminded us that not all the countries displaying their wares are actually exporting to Israel – yet. “The market here is growing, and everyone wants in”.
Among the guests were Yoram Naor - Honorary Consul General of Belize in Israel, Ehab Seid - representing La Nova Italiana Ltd. in partnership with Uri Gottlieb , Gary and Monica Class – representing Coppa Coppa Ltd., and our own Silvia Golan – Executive Director of DIPLOMACY.
Photos Silvia Golan
- Written by GPO News Department
Several Jewish holidays – some of which are full legal holidays in Israel – will take place this year between 24 September and 16 October. The Government Press Office would like to provide the following brief summary.
Preparations for the Jewish New Year
The period preceding the Jewish New Year is marked by special penitential prayers, recited before the regular morning prayers, and the blowing of the ram's horn (shofar in Hebrew) after the morning prayer service. Jews of North African and Middle Eastern origin began to recite these special prayers on 28 August; Jews of European origin began to recite them very early this morning (21 September). These special prayers are said daily (except on the New Year holiday itself and the Sabbath) until the day before Yom Kippur (3 October).
Rosh Hashanah (the two-day Jewish new year), the observance of which is mandated by Leviticus 23:23-25, will begin at sunset on Wednesday, 24 September and conclude at nightfall on Friday, 26 September. Both days are marked by special prayers and scriptural readings.
The centerpiece of the Rosh Hashanah service is the blowing of the shofar during morning prayers. (The shofar is not sounded on the Sabbath should either of the two days fall on Saturday.) Both days are full public holidays and, as on the Sabbath, there will be no public transportation or newspapers. In addition, many businesses, museums and other institutions, which are normally open on the Sabbath, will be closed over the holiday. The GPO will be closed on Wednesday-Thursday, 24-25 September, inclusive.
Rosh Hashanah is also characterized by two special customs. The first is the eating of apple slices dipped in honey, symbolizing the hope that the coming year will be "sweet." The second involves going to a natural source of flowing water (such as an ocean, river, or spring), reading a selection of scriptural verses and casting pieces of bread into the water – to symbolize the "casting off" of the previous year's sins; this practice derives from Micah 7:19 ("...and You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.") This ceremony takes place on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (or on the second, if the first day falls on the Sabbath).
The Period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
The ten days between New Year and Yom Kippur (inclusive) are known as "The Ten Days of Repentance". Jewish tradition maintains that this is a time of judgment when all people and nations are called to account for their deeds of the past year, and when their particular fates for the coming year are decided.
A single Sabbath, known as the "Sabbath of Repentance", always occurs between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This Sabbath (27 September this year) is marked by a special reading from Hosea 14:2-10, beginning with, "Return, Israel, to the Lord your God."
The day after the New Year holiday is a day of fasting known as the Fast of Gedaliah, and commemorates the murder of Gedaliah, the Jewish governor of Judea, who was appointed by the Babylonians after they captured Jerusalem in 586 BCE; the episode is recounted in II Kings 25:22-25. When the day after Rosh Hashanah is a Saturday, as it is this year, the fast is postponed by one day. Accordingly, the fast will extend from sunrise on Sunday, 28 September until nightfall the same day. Special scriptural readings are recited, but the day is not a public holiday.
Yom Kippur (Hebrew for "The Day of Atonement") begins at sunset on Friday, 3 October, and concludes at nightfall on Saturday, 4 October. Its observance is mandated by Leviticus 16:29-31 and 23:27-32. The holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur is the day on which, according to Jewish tradition, our fates for the coming year are sealed. Synagogue services – centering on the penitential prayers – will continue for most of the day and include special scriptural readings (including the Book of Jonah in the afternoon). Memorial prayers for the deceased, said four times a year, are recited on Yom Kippur. At nightfall, the shofar is sounded once to mark the end of Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur is a full public holiday in Israel and almost all establishments (including the GPO) will be closed. There will be no radio or television broadcasts. Since Yom Kippur is a day of introspection, completely separate from the normal course of daily life – the physical aspects of our lives are sublimated while we concentrate on our spiritual concerns – the day is marked by a full (sunset to nightfall) fast. The wearing of leather, the use of cosmetics, bathing and marital relations are likewise forbidden.
The seven-day Sukkot festival, mandated by Leviticus 23:34-35 and 23:39-43, begins at sunset on Wednesday, 8 October and concludes at nightfall on Wednesday, 15 October. The first day, from sunset on Wednesday, 8 October, until nightfall on Thursday, 9 October, is a full public holiday. All seven days of the holiday are marked by special prayers and scriptural readings – including the Book of Ecclesiastes, which is read on Saturday, 11 October. Sukkot is a joyful, family oriented holiday, which follows – and provides a contrast to – the somber, introspective and private character of Yom Kippur. Many businesses and institutions will either close or operate on a reduced basis. The GPO will be closed from 8-16 October, inclusive, and will reopen on Sunday, 19 October.
Sukkot is characterized by two main practices. Jews are enjoined to build, take all of their meals in, and (if possible) sleep in, temporary huts topped with thatch or palm fronds during the festival. These huts (sukkot in Hebrew) commemorate the temporary, portable dwellings in which the Jewish people lived during their 40-year sojourn in the wilderness that followed their liberation from slavery in Egypt. The second main Sukkot observance is the special bouquet – consisting of a closed palm frond, a citron, a myrtle branch and a willow branch – that is held during morning prayers on each of the seven days (except the Sabbath); its origins derive from Leviticus 23:40, many traditional explanations of its symbolism have been cited.
Shemini Atzeret (Simhat Torah)
The Shemini Atzeret (literally "The Eighth Day of Assembly" in Hebrew) holiday immediately follows the last day of Sukkot, beginning at sunset on Wednesday, 15 October and concluding at nightfall on Thursday, 16 October. Its observance is mandated by Leviticus 23:36. It is a full public holiday. (Even though it follows the seven-day Sukkot festival and is often considered part of Sukkot, it is, in fact, a separate holiday. The special bouquet is not used and the obligation to sit in the sukkot no longer applies.) The day's prayer services include the memorial prayers for the deceased, as well as the prayer for plentiful rainfall during the coming winter.
Shemini Atzeret, however, centers around its special scriptural readings. On Shemini Atzeret, the yearly cycle of Torah (the first five books of the Bible, i.e. Genesis to Deuteronomy, one section of which is read on each Sabbath during the year) readings is both completed and begun anew. This event is accompanied by dancing and singing, sometimes continuing for several hours; in religious neighborhoods, these celebrations often spill out into the streets. Thus, the holiday is also referred to as Simhat Torah ("Rejoicing of the Torah" in Hebrew).
Photo by: Moshe Milner, GPO