I think it was 2005 when Parky, my favorite renaissance man, asked if I would be interested in doing an evening of Port Wine & Chocolate in the sukkah. I don’t remember if he knew how deeply appropriate that was. First, the mitzvah (sacred commandment) of the ancient festival of Sukkot is fulfilled by eating and drinking in the sukkah. Then, of course, Jewish tradition holds wine in a special place. We have a special blessing for the fruit of the vine as it reflects a magical process that the rabbis attributed to God. Even the best winemakers today recognize that they are not completely in control of the process.
(Park, Saul and Max working on our first Mega Sukkah)
So, yes, it was a perfect idea.
I’ve kept the tradition since moving down here to Fresno and have been thrilled to find that some of the best Port in the country is made just a few miles away at Ficklin Vineyards in Madera.
I was especially pleased to see Peter Ficklin at the vineyard today while I was picking up some port and took the opportunity to let him know about this ancient Jewish festival and how his port would play a central role. He seemed touched and humbly pleased.
(Peter Ficklin, winemaker at Ficklin Vineyards)
This year and last year we’ve added an additional element to this special evening with the beautiful music of Julie Silver. Good port wine is deep and mellow, sweet but not too sweet and Julie is a perfect complement. There’s a quality to the tone of her voice that is absolutely beautiful. Her writing is thoughtful and deep and her humor is delightful with a little edge that we love.
I’m grateful for all these ingredients coming together in our sukkah… good people, good food and wine, Julie’s beautiful music… and we get mitzvah credit for participating in a wonderful evening.
(Julie Silver in the TBI Sukkah last year with Debbie and Max)
Everyone’s welcome to join us this Saturday night, 7:00 p.m. $20 with alcohol, $10 without call Temple Beth Israel for details and RSVP’s, 559-432-3600.