Last night, Erev Tu B’Shevat, all the planning became a reality. A large crowd gathered at the JCJ first for the wine tasting, and then for the rest of the festivities. Everyone was impressed by the different wines that Yael shared with us. I have no doubt that beginning with good wine made the rest of the evening even more special.
While the food at the JCJ is always good, the Taste of Israel dinner was amazing. The five-course meal (with the exception of the desserts) was prepared by Chef Danny Zuckerman, Chef Owner of the wonderful Ta’im Israeli restaurant in Ebisu. Ta’im means tasty, and the food really lived up to its name. From appetizer to soup, salad and fish every course was unique and amazing. Many said it was the best Israeli food that they have had in Japan (this should not be taken for granted, Japan has the most amazing food culture including great restaurants from around the world, even Israel). The food was so good that the Israeli Ambassador Yaffa Ben-Ari wanted the recipe for the soup. The wide variety of desserts (prepared by the Kunins) were special, not only because they were delicious, but also because they were all kosher for Passover. It is quite amazing what you can do and bake without any grain.
After a brief auction for JNF, featuring art from the congregation, the evening concluded with a wonderful concert of Klezmer and Yiddish songs. Miwazow (on Koto and traditional Japanese percussion) and Wataru Okuma (on clarinet and piano) were wonderful and personable. Familiar Yiddish songs like “Dona Dona” (song both in Japanese and Yiddish) and lullaby “Roszhinkes mit Mandlen” were both familiar yet unique as we heard them played on Japanese traditional instruments. Miwazow-san sang from the heart, lending a poignancy to everything that she sang, whether in Japanese or Yiddish. While listening to Wataru-san’s exuberant klezmer clarinet, it was not easy to just sit still, and many felt the need to get up and dance to the music.
It was an unforgettable evening, and everyone is looking forward to more wonderful evenings at the JCJ.