- Written by Young Ambassadors School /Rachel Amrani.
On August 31st, a delegation of youth leaders from Rachel Amrani’s Young Ambassadors School returned from a diplomatic mission to NY, NJ and Massachusetts, where they visited the UN and met with local Jewish communities along with a number of other unique site visits.
The Young Ambassadors delegation included 20 high school students from Petah Tikva and Tel Aviv. Their itinerary included the requisite tourist stops: Times Square, Central Park, Chinatown, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial, along with some visits unique to a diplomatic trip: briefings at the UN, meeting with American and Israeli diplomats at the American and Israeli Missions to the UN and the Israeli Consulate and AIPAC in Boston.
As part of the delegation’s focus on strengthening ties between Israeli and American communities and bolstering Jewish heritage, the group visited Kehilah Kedosha Janina, the only Romaniote synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, the Spanish-Portuguese Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in America, and NYC’s Holocaust Museum. They also met with Hazon, a Jewish environmentalist organization, to discuss how Judaism relates to sustainability. In Massachusetts the group was hosted by families from the Youth2Israel (Y2I) program overseen by Debbie Coltin, Congregation Sha’arei Tefilah, and a local Israeli-American family.
Another key goal for the delegation was building bridges with non-Jewish communities. The group partnered with Manhattan’s Brotherhood Synagogue and the Interfaith Encounters Association to host an event with local Muslim activists on Jewish-Muslim relations and how Israel is perceived in different Muslim communities. The Young Ambassadors got to see a Sufi prayer ceremony with the Nur Ashki Jerahhi community and talk to the group’s spiritual leader. In Boston, a professor of biblical studies talked to the group about Evangelical Christian support for Israel.
After ten days abroad, the Young Ambassadors delegation returned to Israel with many ideas and greater motivation to continue their path of people to people diplomacy.
Photos credit Young Ambassadors School /Rachel Amrani.
- 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 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
- 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 Sima Lahat
Hundreds of people arrived last night to Rafi and Ofra Elul's house in Mazkeret- Batya, for the "Grand Finale'" of the Mimouna celebrations. This event is taking place at the Elul's house for the last 29 years.
On the house's lawn, balconies and living room, gathered for a toast, hundreds of men and women. Among them came to honor the President, Shimon Peres, the candidates for presidency Fuad Ben Eliezer and Rubi Rivlin, Minister for Aliya Sofa Landver, The Mayor of Holon Motti Sason, Rani and Hila Rahav and many others from the political, business and society fields. The gathering - which was accompanied with good music with Einat Saruf , Moti, Kaya Schwartz and other musicians, good food and drinks – was heart warming.
President Peres said:
This is a holiday of love among all tribes of Israel, who gathered here in spite of their differences. A Jew is a man or woman who holds a child in one hand and the holy Tora in the other... a symbol for continuity and dedication to our moral faith. In my last visit to China, their leaders wanted to know the reason for the large percentage of Jews among Nobel Prize winners. I said that it all depends on the Jewish mother, who devotes her life to her children, which are our most precious treasure. Even though we left Egypt from slavery to freedom, our exodus is not finished until there is no hungry child left in our country, and peace will prevail.
About the holiday source...
The Mimouna was brought by the immigrants from Morocco during the 50's. It was celebrated in Morocco for hundreds of years. Mimouna – luck in Arabic – was the spring celebrations in the Atlas Mountains. The holiday was identified with nature and scenery celebrations and people used to visit holy man graves. The essence of the holiday is peace, friendship and good neighborhood between Jews and Muslims. The Muslims used to bring the Jews the first bread after the Passover, and the Jews used to prepare pastries and Mufletas – food that symbols the transfer from the holy to regular times. From Matzo to bread.
Photos Silvia G Golan