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This kosher-for-Passover apple vodka lets New Yorkers drink local this holiday



(New York Jewish Week) — When it comes to alcoholic beverages and Passover, the most common association is wine — consuming four cups of wine, after all, is an essential element of the Passover seder. But at Ilya Mavlyanov’s home in Forest Hills, Queens, there will be cocktails on offer, too. 

That’s because Mavlyanov, 31, is the founder of Upstate Vodka — a vodka that is both certified kosher and certified kosher for Passover. Unlike most popular vodkas in the United States, which are made from grain, Upstate Vodka is made from New York apples. 

“New York is the Big Apple and New York is the second largest apple growing state in the country,” Mavlyanov told the New York Jewish Week when asked how he landed on creating vodka from apples.

Just because a food or beverage uses kosher ingredients, however, doesn’t automatically mean it’s certified kosher. For Mavlyanov, who moved from Moscow to New York as a teen, the decision to seek kosher certification was integral to Upstate Vodka’s launch in June 2022. “I am Bukharian Jewish — kosher blood runs in my veins,” he said. “The first market I looked at was the kosher market. I started selling mostly to kosher liquor stores.”  

Most vodkas on the market today are made from the fermentation of cereal grains like wheat or rye — ingredients considered “chametz” and not kosher for Passover. That is why some popular vodka brands, like Absolut or Smirnoff, may be certified kosher but not kosher for Passover. Kosher-for-Passover vodka can be made from potatoes, sugar or fruits, like an apple, a key ingredient in Ashkenazi recipes for that seder plate staple, haroset.

Each 750 ml bottle of Upstate Vodka is made from the fruit of 75 apples. The variety depends on the year but can include Spy Gold, Cortlands, Liberty or Kingston Black apples. “Each year we evaluate the juice so it might be a different blend,” said Upstate Vodka marketing director Susan Mooney. “Our distilling team has learned a lot about how to work with apples with different sugar content.”

“The owner is Jewish and he feels like the kosher products that were available were made from sugar or beets and were not of a high enough quality,” said Mooney, describing Mavlyanov’s decision to make a kosher-for-Passover vodka, in particular. “He felt he wanted to make a really good kosher for Passover vodka for the kosher and Jewish population.”

This year, the company will turn out 5,000 bottles of kosher for Passover Upstate Vodka. Sold in stores all over New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut, with shipping available to 30 states, Upstate Vodka’s kosher for Passover batch has a light gray label — in contrast to the black label used on the product for the rest of the year — and it clearly states that it is kosher for Passover on the front of the bottle.

Aside from the label, however, there is no difference between the Passover apple vodka and the year-round drink, said master distiller Ken Wortz. “From the first pressing of the juice from the apples, to fermentation, distillation and bottling — all are done under the supervision of a rabbi from OK Kosher,” he said, noting the rabbi even has his own room at the distillery.

Upstate Vodka is currently the only product produced by Sauvage Distillery, which is located in Charlotteville, New York, just north of the Catskill Mountains. And while Mavlyanov lives with his family in Queens, he is “very into farm products and farmers markets,” he told the New York Jewish Week. I was always impressed with the quality of products, and wanted to contribute to what upstate has to offer.”

Mavlyanov’s efforts seem to be paying off. New York City-based mixologist Will Hadjigeorgalis, who is now a brand ambassador for the line, said he normally doesn’t get excited about vodka — until he tasted this product. “It is supposed to be flavorless, but this has a hint of apple,” he said. “It has a wonderful, creamy mouth feel.” 

Food influencer and cookbook author Jake Cohen is a fan, too. “I come from a family that loves a diversified l’chaim portfolio, from weed to wine and plenty of vodka drinkers, so I always want to be stocked on the best kosher for Passover variety,” he wrote in an email to the New York Jewish Week, using the Hebrew word for the toast said over spirits. “Upstate Vodka stands up to every other bottle on my top shelf.”

There’s more to come from those upstate apples — in addition to vodka, the company is also making a local version of apple liqueur a la calvados. “We already have apple brandy in the barrels,” said master distiller Wortz. “It will also be kosher.”

The post This kosher-for-Passover apple vodka lets New Yorkers drink local this holiday appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

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Local News

Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

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Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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