War impacts business operations in every way, including many we don’t think about and often take for granted.

Before October 7th, food connoisseurs and wine enthusiasts from around the world followed the creativity from the professional chefs and restaurants of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem while Israeli vineyards were consistently awarded top international awards.  An example isTura Winery, funded by Vered and Erez Ben Saadon, that won two distinguished medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards: A gold medal for their Mountain Pick 2018 wine and a silver medal for their Tura Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 last spring.

Life in Israel today for residents relates to living in the COVID days of closed or slowed down work days, people struggling to make a living and profits lost from tourism and hospitality businesses either closed or short staffed, in this case by soldiers battling on the war front.

Soon after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the goal of eliminating Hamas, the Israeli Wine Producers Association launched a campaign urging people to ‘Sip for Solidarity’. 

The wine business in Israel is a huge part of Israel’s economy and tourism, with about 40 companies.  Prunings and maintenance are now on hold due to the war.  There is little tourism to the wineries at this time, and the growers, pickers and producers have been called up to serve. 

“Winemaking has its own schedule, unlike other industries where you can pause production or run with limited staff. Grapes grow and ripen when they do; the winemaking process is very hands-on. Without staff, many wineries face an impending crisis.” said Joshua Greenstein, the Vice President Of the IWPA.

Greenstein added, “Buy a bottle of Israeli wine. Not only will the purchase help the wineries, but we’re donating 10% of every case shipped until December 31, 2023 to Israeli relief efforts. Afterwards, the focus will be on events and possible missions to Israel.

A recent project featured Jaclyn Misch, former Miss Michigan, a non-Jewish supporter of Israeli wines who featured a program for Christmas gifts featuring “A Taste of Israel Through Wines.”

Americans know Israeli chefs from restaurants, bestselling cookbooks and appearances in cooking shows like Einat Admony and Yotam Ottolenghi.

Unfortunately, Michael Solomonov made headlines recently when his restaurant, Goldie, a vegan falafel restaurant, was the target of Palestinian rioters.

For the thousands of chefs in Israel, the crisis brought unexpected challenges to employment that many can’t recover from today. 

Kosher Culinary Travel, a luxury international vacation tour business, has on staff some of Israel’s favorite chefs.  Avicam Gitlin, President of KCT, created the Israeli Chef Project.  The idea came from chefs who he employed who volunteered since the beginning of the war to prepare meals for soldiers and those who had to relocate to safer locations or were left homeless by the attacks.

Gitlin said, “Restaurants are mostly closed, events are non-existent, tourism is paused. Hire an Israeli chef for your next event, as a personal home chef, or for your upcoming winter vacation and give parnassa(income) while delighting your palate.”

Gitlin is arranging for the cooks and bakers to travel to cities across the United States for hire for private gatherings as small as an intimate romantic dinner to overseeing large banquet halls and menus for fundraisers.

Gili Mirelashvili of Be’er Sheva has been a restaurant chef for over ten years. She prides herself in using traditional ingredients with an innovative twist as featured in her signature dish, a ragu.  “My personal professional challenges today are having the meals I prepare for the soldiers and hoping the food reminds them of home, of love and of victory.”

Chef  Dudu Rolov has 25 years in the restaurant industry, managed many restaurants in Israel and worked under great Israeli chefs.  He manages a restaurant in Be’er Sheva and is a private chef for boutique events which feature his signature Asian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Additionally, Gitlin is preparing for a trip to Greece during the Passover holidays that will host 20 soldiers and their families as a token of gratitude and hopefully a period of rest and traditions.

As Greenstein said, “Before the war the Israeli wine business was booming, and he has all hope that one day in the future it will be back stronger and better than before.”

You don’t have to be Jewish or Israeli to take advantage of delicious food and wines for your next meal or party.

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Cindy Grosz is an award-winning media personality, brand ambassador and Jewish activist. She is the host of “The Jewess Patriot”radio show on WGBB Radio and through Jewish Podcasts out of Jerusalem, streaming on Spotify, Apple and IheartRadio. She ran for Congress in 2020 and was a Jewish advisor for the National Coalition for Trump.


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