1.22.16 Issue

by Mark Kirchhoff, Center for Jewish Life

Wine tasting is completely different from drinking it. A wine tasting is the opportunity to slow down and experience the true flavor of a wine using not just the sense of taste but also the senses of sight, smell and touch. Treat yourself to such an experience on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Beth El Synagogue, with an exploration of the wonderful world of Israeli wine led by Steve Kerbel. Steve, an independent education consultant in the Greater Washington D.C. area, has developed a strong interest in Israeli wines and as, part of his curricula, he facilitates wine tastings featuring Israeli wines. While in Omaha, he will also lead a teacher in-service (see separate article) and speak at Beth El.

“The quality and variety of Israel wine continues to expand and improve each year” reports Steve. “Israeli red wine has moved past the early years of featuring primarily cabernet sauvignon and merlot — and blends of the two — to more Bordeaux-style blends incorporating other Mediterranean grapes.” Kerbel commented that numerous wineries in Israel are well known in the competition circuit, winning recognition and prizes. “I travel to Israel frequently and visiting wineries is always a part of my itinerary. The relationships I have developed are a bonus, and I learn more with each visit. Having the chance to share my love of Israeli wine with the Omaha community will be a true pleasure.”

Included in the line-up for the evening will be the Dalton Unoaked Chardonnay, Tzuba Metzuda Syrah 2010, Tulip Just Merlot 2013, the popular Carmel Moscato Di’ Carmel and several others. Steve will teach about the diverse geography of Israel through its wines and wine makers. He will also discuss how wine has been a part of Jewish tradition and will share information on the various wines he serves at his Seder dinners.

Steve also has two strong Omaha connections which made the decision to visit Omaha an easy one. Steve and Scott Littky, Program Director for Temple Israel, have been close friends for years. In fact, Scott reports when people learned he was returning to Omaha, the first comment many made was “Will Steve be okay?” Scott went on to say, “Steve puts his heart and soul into teaching those who attend his wine tastings to love and appreciate the complexity of Israeli wine.” Rabbi Steven Abraham is a second Omaha connection for Steve Kerbel. Steve knew Rabbi Abraham long before he ever thought of becoming a rabbi. “I met Steve and his wonderful wife Judy when I was a kid at the synagogue where I grew up, but got to know them better as I entered high school and USY. Without Steve and Judy’s care and guidance, I would not have decided to go to rabbinical school. I didn’t know from kashrut or Shabbat observance and so the Kerbels’ home became a place for me to spend Shabbat and learn what it means to live an observant Jewish life. I am excited for our community to get to meet and learn from Steve.”

Prior to his career as a Jewish educator, Steve received a law degree and was in practice for eight years. He is an alumnus of University of Maryland, College Park, where he met his wife, Judy. They have two adult daughters, Abby and Michelle.

The Israeli wine tasting event is jointly sponsored by the Center for Jewish Life, Beth El Synagogue, Beth Israel Synagogue, and Temple Israel. The cost is $12 per person.  Reservations may be made by email mkirchhoff@jewishomaha.org or calling 402.334.6445.