Jewish Event Planning 101 – Kosher Caterers Under the Microscope of Jewish Event Planners

Jewish Event Planning 101 – Kosher Caterers Under the Microscope of Jewish Event Planners

 

The Ups and Downs of Morrell CaterersThe ups and downs for Morrell Caterers: Below you’ll find The Jewish Week article and further below, you’ll find the Vaad of Flatbush letter about Morrell Caterers current standing after the Vaad’s investigation.

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Henry Isaacs | Jewish Marketing & Communications Consultants

P. 201.357.2622  |  E. Info@Henry-Isaacs.com  | www.Henry-Isaacs.com
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Reposted from TheJewishWeek.com

The Jewish Week
Published on The Jewish Week (http://www.thejewishweek.com)
Home > Nassau DA Opens Criminal Probe In Kosher Catering Case

Nassau DA Opens Criminal Probe In Kosher Catering Case

Morrell Caterer’s former general manager Thomas Cataldo, left, and former executive chef Michael Savitsky.

Morrell Caterer’s former general manager Thomas Cataldo, left, and former executive chef Michael Savitsky.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Stewart Ain
Staff Writer

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice has opened a criminal investigation into allegations that Morrell Caterers of Woodbury, L.I., prepared shrimp, lobster, pork and other non-kosher food in the same kitchen as kosher food.

Chris Munzing, a spokesman for Rice, said the investigation started this week after it was reported that two of Morrell’s former employees filed a civil suit alleging that Morrell started a non-kosher business in the kitchen of Temple Beth Torah in Melville, L.I. They said it was begun in September 2010 in conjunction with a high-end event planning company, Pat Glenn Productions.

Munzing declined to characterize the nature of the investigation except to say that prosecutors are exploring “possible criminal activity.”

Included in the court suit was an affidavit from Pat Casarona, a co-founder of Pat Glenn Productions, who stated that Scott Morrell, president of the company that bears his name, “explained that the non-kosher food required for events produced by Pat Glenn could be prepared discreetly in the kitchen of Temple Beth Torah, which as a Reform synagogue did not impose the same stringent rabbinical supervision as Morrell Caterers’ other synagogue venues in Woodbury and Lawrence.”

Casarona added that Morrell brushed aside suggestions that a separate kitchen be used for the non-kosher operation “until it could be determined whether the venture was becoming sufficiently profitable to make investing in a separate facility cost-effective. Mr. Morrell did express great concern during these meetings that, as he put it, ‘there can be no way to trace it back to me.’ ”

At a press conference Wednesday, Morrell angrily denied the allegations, saying: “I stand here with my integrity intact. I never broke any kosher rules, ever.”

Asked specifically about the allegations, Morrell, with his mother, RoseLee, standing behind him, said: “I have no knowledge of that.”

Morrell Caterers has its offices at the Woodbury Jewish Center, where it operates a glatt kosher catering facility whose kosher supervision is provided by the Vaad Harabonim of Flatbush. Rabbi Raphael Adler, the congregation’s spiritual leader, called the allegations “troubling, of great concern and deeply offensive.”

“We have been flooded with calls from families that have booked parties,” he said. “There is angst and concern from families, who are paying top dollar [for a party]. These allegations have shaken the trust of myself, my congregation and the greater community because hundreds of thousands of people have patronized [this caterer] expecting the highest level of kashrut. We hope these allegations will be proven false.”

In the meantime, Rabbi Adler said, synagogue leaders have “been in close consultation with our legal counsel.”

Randy Zornberg, president of Temple Beth Torah, said that within hours after the news broke about the civil suit he had received “over 50 phone calls from people who have parties in the near future and in a couple of years.”

“If the facts of this case are true and he violated kosher laws, he would be in violation of their contracts,” he said. “But these are two disgruntled employees who have left. What their game could be I don’t know. … If [Morrell] has broken our trust by violating his contract, the contract will be terminated.”

Zornberg added that his congregation’s executive board would be meeting Sunday to further discuss the situation.

Rabbi Marc Gellman, spiritual leader of Temple Beth Torah, said told The Jewish Week: “If these allegations are true, it is a violation not only of the legal trust but also of a sacred trust.”

At the press conference, Morrell said he would “consult with my rabbinical supervisor” to decide what to do about the silverware, pots, dishes and cooking utensils that were allegedly used for both kosher and non-kosher affairs.

“I regard kosher supervision with the highest priority,” Morrell said.

The kosher supervisor, Rabbi Steven Moss, said he was “surprised” to learn of the allegations because “to the best of my knowledge everything they used for parties booked at Temple Beth Torah was used only for kosher items. I will look into this as soon as I can.”

“We have to make an assessment to determine the next step,” he added. “If there are utensils that have become ‘infected,’ they either have to get new ones or kasher them.”

Rabbi Moss, spiritual leader of B’nai Israel Reform Temple in Oakdale, L.I., stressed that he made regular spot inspections of the kitchens of Temple Beth Torah and Temple Israel in Lawrence, L.I., but was not employed to be there full-time.

Morrell’s lawyers, Steven Schlesinger and Ronald Rosenberg, claimed that the civil suit brought by the two former employees was part of a failed shakedown attempt to get Morrell to drop a $500,000 suit against Morrell’s former lawyer. They said the two former employees, Thomas Cataldo, the former general manager, and Michael Savitsky, the former executive chef, were paid by the former lawyer to make the allegations. Both men denied it.

Rosenberg insisted that Morrell never directed his staff to prepare non-kosher food in the kitchen of Temple Beth Torah. He said photos Cataldo and Savitsky showed of shrimp and other non-kosher food in the kitchen were “fabricated.”

And Rosenberg questioned why it took so long for the two men to come forward.

“Why did they find God now?” he asked. “There are some orders you don’t follow.”

Both Cataldo and Savitsky said they had complied with Morrell’s orders because they feared for their livelihood.

“He told me in no uncertain terms that this would continue,” Cataldo said when he protested what was happening.

He said that food for between 25 and 30 off-site non-kosher parties costing at least $200,000 were prepared in the Temple Beth Torah kitchen. He said that although the bills were processed through Morrell Caterers, they were concealed from the synagogue to avoid paying synagogue fees.

Savitsky said he recalled that on at least one occasion his staff was ordered to prepare both kosher and non-kosher food in the kitchen at the same time.

They said they acted to blow the whistle now because they could no longer stand the “guilt” of what they were doing.

“I finally decided I couldn’t do it anymore,” said Savitsky, who came to the press conference wearing a white chef’s shirt. “I just finally gave up.”

Cataldo said in an affidavit filed with the court that he and Savitsky each owned a 5 percent share of the business. And in a court affidavit, he said Morrell Caterers “has no cash, is struggling to make payroll” and owes a key supplier more than $250,000.

Cataldo said that although all of the non-kosher food preparation was done at Temple Beth Torah, utensils, pots and pans, plates, glassware, display pieces and other items were routinely taken to Temple Israel in Lawrence for use there.

“A white platter that was used to pass kosher Hors d’oeuvres there was also used to pass coconut shrimp,” he said. “And sometimes we would bring food back and forth.”

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Vaad of Flatbush Letter about Morrell Caterers

Vaad of Flatbush Letter about Morrell Caterers


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Jewish PR 101 – Create A “Soap Opera” About Your Mission

Jewish PR 101 – Create A “Soap Opera” About Your Mission

Jewish Non-Profit Public RelationsWhen it comes to public relations, you need to do more than simply write a heading, a couple paragraphs, and click the send button. You need to create a soap opera about your brand.

Soap opera’s are one of the most unique and captivating shows on television and there’s a reason why they are some of the longest running TV shows in the world (Telenovela’s, anyone?) People tune in every day to find out more and more about their favorite characters and the drama they encounter, and are despondent when they miss a show or tune in five minutes late! And soap opera’s don’t disappoint either – the writers constantly keep the shows relevant and captivating day after day while still maintaining a fresh storyline that new audiences can get into without having to see back episodes. Truly a remarkable force to watch, literally.

And that’s what is GREAT PR. Having a story line and mission that captivates your core and target audience day after day, inviting them to get involved instantly and be a part of the soap opera. Let’s lead by example:

  • Don’t just invite people to your organizational dinner – start a “Countdown to The Dinner” with Behind The Scenes video, meetings, and dinner ideas floated out in social media that invites your audience to get excited for the big day.
  • Your product is going Kosher? We’d love to see your ads, your PR, and your events surrounding why and when you’re going Kosher! Let the Jewish audience give our feedback, wishes, hopes, and ideas for your launch.
  • Is your school looking to freshen up it’s image and increase admissions? Start a “Teen Soap Opera” complete with band video’s, e-High School Newspapers, and mock campaigns for Student Government that parents, students, and alumni can participate in (and fund!)

Or you could do always do. Type up a press release. Hit send.

Unlike other PR professionals, we worked with writers. We know what grabs their attention and we also know what makes them toss a press release into the garbage. And we also understand the nuances of being raised in “Old School PR” and living in the “New School PR” (Check out our post on what we mean here). So targeting the best contacts and maintaining follow through is of the utmost importance, yet if you’ve created a soap opera, they are already FOLLOWING YOU. And with social media, it’s even easier to get started.

Create a “Soap Opera“. Get a following.

Henry Isaacs | Jewish Marketing & Communications Consultants

P. 201.357.2622  |  E. Info@Henry-Isaacs.com  | www.Henry-Isaacs.com
Marketing | Social Media | Public Relations | Event Planning | Brand Consulting

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Insourcing – Keeping “outsourced” tasks in America

Insourcing – Keeping “outsourced” tasks in America

Reposted from The Press Enterprise

‘Insourcing’ outsourcing to other American firms a benefit

Sarah Cullins

04:03 PM PDT on Saturday, August 20, 2011

Outsourcing has become a dirty word in the American labor market, because it brings to mind the image of employers sending jobs overseas to countries where they can pay workers less than a dollar an hour.

Many companies have realized that outsourcing comes with its own set of problems, as customers complain when they have trouble understanding customer service reps based in other parts of the world. Outsourcing also can cause quality control or supply line issues, as seen in the recent Japanese earthquake.

However, many American companies have opted to outsource some of their in-house services to American contractors. This has been termed “insourcing.”

The work is contracted out of the company, but remains with American businesses. Companies often decide to insource auxiliary work, such as accounting, public relations and IT, which are important, but not central to the company’s mission.

Here are some of the reasons why companies opt to do this:

It’s cheaper. If you have to pay an in-house HR or IT person, it will probably cost you at least $3,000 a month in wages. When you add on benefits, you are looking at a total cost of more than $4,000 per month. For many companies it easier to pay an outside company $2,000 for the same services. Employers also know there is no way they can find a top-level employee for $2,000 per month.

It’s more efficient. When you insource some of your duties, you send the work to a person who is not going to get caught up in office politics or water cooler chat. Most contractors realize that if they don’t perform, they don’t get paid. This ensures that the work will be done right and done on time. Insourcing also allows you to hire experienced people who have the skills to complete projects faster.

Insourced workers can also adapt to change faster. One of the biggest complaints about working in a large organization is trying to implement a new procedure. The decision has to be kicked up several layers of management, and it can take months for it to be approved. With a contract employee, the decision can be made fairly quickly since they do not have to go through as many layers.

It allows you to focus on what you are really good at. If you make tires, you want to focus on making tires and not have to worry about accounting, HR or public relations. A large company has divisions to focus on these areas. But in small companies it is the owner that has to handle all of these duties. Of course, while he is doing this, he does not have time to focus on his actual business. Insourcing this kind of work to contractors frees up the owner’s time and allows him to concentrate on actually running his business.

From the points I have listed, it is easy to see why more and more American companies are moving to towards insourcing work, as a way of staying leaner and meaner. In today’s market companies are constantly looking for ways to shave fat off the bottom line, and increasingly that means sending work to local contractors who save time and money.

Sarah Cullins is president of Finesse Staffing in Rancho Cucamonga. Reach her via 909-466-9933 or scullins@finessestaffing.com.

Henry Isaacs

http://www.Henry-Isaacs.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewish Event Planning 101 – Tu B’Av – Jewish Valentine’s Day

Jewish Event Planning 101 – Tu B’Av – Jewish Valentine’s Day

High Style Events | Stylish Event Planners for the Jewish Event

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Weddings | Bar & Bat Mitzvahs | Social Events | Non-Profit | Corporate

Jewish Event Planning | Event Consulting | Day-of Coordination | Per-Diem Planning | Concierge Services

Come join in our Tu B’Av “200 Likes” Contest and win a $100 gift card to Abigael’s on Broadway. Simply Like our High Style Events page on Facebook and you’re automatically entered!

Tu B’Av – The Jewish Valentine’s Day

Tu B’Av is the 15th day of the month of Av (usually corresponding to the dates in July or August), a somber month on the Jewish calendar. Up until the 10th of Av, the month is highlighted as a sad month (see our post on the Nine Days). However, when the ides of Av hit, the month transforms into a month synonymous with love, romance, and joy.  In Israel, it is celebrated as a holiday of love  similar to Valentine’s Day and considered a very desirable date for Jewish weddings,  engagements, and singles events worldwide.

According to the Talmud, Tu B’Av was a joyous holiday when  the unmarried girls of Jerusalem would dress in white garments and go out to dance in the vineyards. Although we haven’t actually seen that take place, it would be quite a photo op to capture that joyous scene! In modern times, Tu B’Av marks an informal “high” to counter the “low” of the The Three Weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av. (portions recombined from Wikipedia)

How to Benefit:

The same marketing and sales tactics you use for Valentine’s Day can be put into effect here. Ads in Jewish media outlets the weeks after (not before, since you want to be sensitive to the Three Weeks) Tu B’Av is a great way to show you value and understand the Jewish party planner. And they’ll appreciate your business. Perhaps host a Jewish bridal event for Jewish brides a week or so after Tu B’Av for those looking for venues (High Style Events can help you create a bridal showcase that is perfect for Jewish brides).

Most venues and vendors have a packed summer schedule, but Tu B’Av helps those businesses think ahead and plan for a nice fall/winter of weddings. See our post on the Orthodox Jewish Wedding  in Three Months and you’ll see that Tu B’Av engagements mean October and November wedding dates. Most likely if you’ve had a successful summer of weddings, you’ll have the money to spend on marketing so think ahead!

I hope this helped you understand Tu B’Av better and help you start benefitting from the richly diverse Jewish calendar and traditions!

Henry Isaacs

www.henry-isaacs.com

www.highstyleevents.com

Jewish Event Planning 101 – The Other Wedding Parties – Sheva Brocha, Aufruf, and Shabbat Kallah

Jewish Event Planning 101 – The Other Wedding Parties – Sheva Brocha, Aufruf, and Shabbat Kallah

High Style Events | Stylish Event Planners for the Jewish Event

P. 201.357.2622 | E. Events@HighStyleEvents.com | www.HighStyleEvents.com

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Weddings | Bar & Bat Mitzvahs | Social Events | Non-Profit | Corporate

Jewish Event Planning | Event Consulting | Day-of Coordination | Per-Diem Planning | Concierge Services

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The Other Parties: Sheva Brachot, Aufruf, and Shabbat Kallah

There’s much more to a Jewish Orthodox wedding than just the day-of. Like American weddings with rehearsal dinners and bachelor parties, the Jewish Orthodox wedding has their own brand of before- and after-parties. Let’s talk about the other parties associated with a Jewish wedding:

Sheva Brachot

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheva_Brachot

Crazy Seven Days of Post-Wedding Parties – The after-parties for the Jewish wedding go for 7 crazy days. Well, including the wedding day. As indicated by the Wikipedia post, there are seven blessings associated with a wedding and as a result, the tradition became to hold a small scale party for each day of the seven blessings.By small, I mean expect maybe 30-50 people per event, which is technically considered an intimate event.

What does this mean to you? Well, if you’re a venue or vendor who just managed to book a Jewish wedding client, why not offer the couple a discounted option for servicing their Sheva Brachot? Book up your venue or upsell your services through smaller events that are guaranteed to happen the next day! And for the next seven days. Booking up space at venues during the weekdays isn’t always easy so this is an easy guaranteed way to increase bookings of major and intimate Jewish events.

Aufruf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aufruf

The Jewish Orthodox Bachelor Party – Yes, this sounds like a strange term to be associated with a wedding, but the Aufruf goes back for generations. Also referred to as Shabbat Hatan, the groom is called up to read or make a blessing by the Torah in the weekend before his big day. Candies are thrown, festive kiddushim (Jewish cocktail parties on Shabbat, substituting schnapps for the cocktail) are held, and the groom’s friends are hanging for one last time together!

What does this mean to you? Well, you’re kind of roadblocked in a lot of services for this event. Aufruf’s take place on Shabbat so no photography or electronics are generally used. but independent caterers can really benefit from the Aufruf. Serving a small crowd of Aufruf attendee’s is a great way to showcase your food and get word of mouth generating for your small catering business. Decor and save the dates are also great services to provide for the Aufruf. Remember, the Aufruf takes place the weekend before the big day so if you’ve been booked to handle the catering, or invitations, or decor for the wedding in advance, do a follow up reminder about your services for the Aufruf.

Shabbat Kallah

http://www.netplaces.com/jewish-weddings/the-wedding-weekend-and-sabbath/shabbat-kallah-the-brides-sabbath.htm

Essentially, this is the same as an Aufruf, just this is for the bride. Why the seperation of the two parties? Excellent question. Let’s get romantic – aside from the idea of friends and family spending time with their bride and groom individually, the seperation is a traditional tool for promoting a sense of heightened love and desire between the bride and groom, who will eventually be “re-united” on their wedding day for the first time. And this doesn’t just take place at the Shabbat Kallah or Aufruf – some traditions say that the couple should seperate for a week in order to make the couple miss each other and anticipate their wedding day even more. Beautiful.

What does this mean to you? See Aufruf above!

I hope this gives you insight into the traditions and parties of the Jewish Orthodox Wedding. That’s the 411 on the Other Wedding Parties!

Henry Isaacs

www.HighStyleEvents.com

Jewish Event Planning 101 – Why You Should Outsource Your Event Planning

Jewish Event Planning 101 – Why You Should Outsource Your Event Planning

Here’s an overview of the benefits of outsourcing your event planning to the experts. We know that outsourcing sounds evil and un-American, but that’s not what outsourcing entirely means.

Outsourcing is very misunderstood.

Some interpret outsourcing as costing American’s jobs by sending them overseas. Others consider outsourcing as a cheap way to get things done. In reality, outsourcing is simply defined as creating efficiencies in the workplace by letting outside specialists handle tasks within their field of expertise. Outsourcing itself is nothing new. Firms have long hired outside vendors to handle marketing, advertising, public relations, media buying, event planning, web design, printing, and many other services that are deemed by companies as “necessary functions best left to experts”.

Outsourcing creates an efficient team of expert planners.

That’s what outsourcing your event planning does: creates an efficient team of expert event planners or your events, removing workplace inefficiencies such as time, expense, and uncertainty of creating, planning, maintaining relationships, and coordinating events.

Benefits of Outsourcing Your Event Planning

 

  • Experts in Event Planning…

Every firm aims to hire the best employees with the most expertise. Unfortunately, when it comes to event planning, that doesn’t always happen. Most firms rely on interns, temps, inexperienced employees in different departments, or part-time receptionists to plan their events. That method of operating is similar to sending a novice to close an important sales deal. From a time management point of view, researching and qualifying catering, venues, entertainment, and other event services are time-consuming and ancillary tasks that cut into a person’s everyday workload. As a result, the  “non event planning” employee may settle for a simple solution and a simple event just to get the task out of the way. That leaves your firm with a mediocre event with potentially low attendance, unqualified attendee’s, and ineffective results

  • … Create Memorable & Successful Events.

Effective and efficient firms send their best to close the deal, and for your events, with dozens or hundreds of prospective clients and deals possible, why use a under qualified team to create a mediocre event? Organizations need to have memorable, outstanding, and inspiring events for their current and prospective donors to attend and those donors need to see that the organization has efficient leadership and that their dollars are being  put to good use. Mediocre events don’t create valuable memories of the product or service; bland fundraising events don’t inspire confidence in the organization. By outsourcing to expert event planners, your firm has access to an expanded talent pool with innovative ideas and fresh perspectives all at greater cost savings. Event planning experts make sure the events they plan are outstanding, memorable, and inspiring. And if you’re looking to make an impact and leave attendee’s wanting more, your firm should defer to the experts.

  • Saves costs (making your dollars go further).

Saving money while trying to make your dollars go further is a task on every firm’s mind. In tough economies, firms need to do more with less. Budgets for marketing, event planning, and public relations can be very tight, especially during a slow economic recovery. Yet smart companies and organizations understand that when times are tough, marketing, PR and event planning are more important than ever and extremely vital to their growth and mission. By outsourcing those tasks, your firm is able to work within your budgetary framework, reduces overhead and operating costs (such as office space and employee benefits), and increases worker efficiency by allowing them to focus on more important and concentrated tasks.

  • Greater employee efficiency. Less “filler work”.

When not planning events, employers have a tendency to fill event planners daily workload with “filler work”. Faxing, copying, answering phones, monitoring your social media, etc … Honestly, these are tasks that can be done by an hourly intern instead of a salaried employee with benefits. Not only is “filler work” tedious, belaboring, and uninspiring for event planners, your company risks creating negative workplace morale and diluted employee job satisfaction. Which means that before long, you’re event planners could bail for more growth-oriented positions. If an event planner was hired to plan events, then that employee wants to do just that and play to his strengths and core competencies. If your firm isn’t having enough events to justify a full time event planner or filling an event planners time with “filler work”, its time to consider outsourcing your event planning tasks.

  • Negotiate better pricing through strong relationships.

A major detail in the event planning process is obtaining the best selection of services at the best price. Within organizations and businesses, management that constantly shops for a “best-price” deal in their event planning is usually unable to capitalize on the capabilities or selection that knowledgeable event planners can offer. As time goes on, firms sense of urgency in their event planning could mean closing on the first available vendor, not utilizing the advantages of negotiating pricing and services. Experienced event planners have extensive vendor databases, established relationships, and a distinct advantage in obtaining the best service at the best price.

Work with experts. Save money.

Increase efficiency. Obtain better pricing.

Outsourcing is starting to make a lot of sense.

Henry Isaacs

www.Henry-Isaacs.com

Jewish Event Planning 101 – Destination Weddings in Israel

Jewish Event Planning 101 – Destination Weddings in Israel

High Style Events | Stylish Event Planners for the Jewish Event

P. 201.357.2622 | E. Events@HighStyleEvents.com | www.HighStyleEvents.com

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Weddings | Bar & Bat Mitzvahs | Social Events | Non-Profit | Corporate

Jewish Event Planning | Event Consulting | Day-of Coordination | Per-Diem Planning | Concierge Services

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More Diaspora Jews choose to hold ‘destination weddings’ in Israel

Tali Cohen is very busy planning her July wedding, an outdoor affair on the beach at Caesarea overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Although she and her fiance, Mark Silberstein, live and work in San Diego, the two have long dreamed of getting married in Israel.

By Daphna Berman

Tali Cohen is very busy planning her July wedding, an outdoor affair on the beach at Caesarea overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Although she and her fiance, Mark Silberstein, live and work in San Diego, the two have long dreamed of getting married in Israel.

“We feel that Israel is a big part of our lives even though we live in the States, so it was important for us to begin building our family here,” Cohen explained this week, during a visit that involved endless appointments with the caterer, the events venue, the wedding planner, and everyone else she needs to meet face-to-face before returning to the United States.

They have friends who have held destination weddings in Italy, Florida and Costa Rica – thus, asking over 100 family and friends to join them on their special day several thousand miles away didn’t seem so far-fetched.

“Our friends weren’t surprised when we told them where the wedding would be,” she added. “Our Judaism is centered around our Zionism. It’s central to who we are, so it was only natural that we get married here.”

Cohen and Silberstein are not alone. Although official statistics are not available, anecdotal evidence suggests that they are part of a growing trend among Jews from abroad who come to Israel specifically for their wedding.

“There’s definitely a surge in the number of people from abroad who have been calling to plan their wedding here,” said Danny Kaizler, president of IsraEvents, a Tel Aviv-based event-planning agency. “A few years ago, it was just the pioneers.”

Conversations this week with a number of wedding planners, as well as others in the industry, point to several factors that have led to the rise: ideology, finances, and sometimes, simply wanting to be original.

“Making a wedding here is now very much in fashion,” said Judy Krasna, partner and co-owner of CelebrateIsrael.com, an English-language Web site that provides information on venues, caterers, photographers and other suppliers for people planning an event in Israel. “It’s very trendy and hip to send an invitation for a wedding overlooking the Old City. It’s considered more interesting.”

The large majority of couples come from the U.S., France and Britain, according to Rabbi David Banino, head of the marriage department at the Jerusalem rabbinate.

Wedding planners who work with couples from abroad say that the ideological and spiritual pull of getting married in Israel is one critical factor that has led to the trend. Cohen and Silberstein, for example, met at a conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby group. She now works for the Anti-Defamation League and in the past, he led teen trips to Israel for groups like Young Judaea.

“Zionism plays a big part,” says Yael Adar, a wedding planner in the Gilboa area. “People say, ‘If I’m going to spend so much money, I may as well spend it in the Israeli economy.'”

But the pull of Israel is sometimes also practical. Many couples chose Israel because weddings here generally are more low-key than the opulent extravaganzas many of their friends throw back home.

Prices for gourmet kosher food in New York or London, for example, are twice or three times more expensive per person. According to wedding planners, some venues abroad start at $150 per guest and that does not even include all the extras. Here, they say, good food is more affordable and other “must-haves” like a photographer, a band, a florist and everything else are significantly less expensive as well.

“People are fed up with the rat race,” said Joan Summerfield of Anglo Israel Events, an event-organizing company based in Ra’anana that works with couples from abroad. “They don’t want to feel that they have to compete to make their wedding bigger and better. The cost overseas is almost obscene. In England, there are people spending 100,000 pounds on one day.”

According to Summerfield, who is planning the Cohen-Silberstein wedding this summer, the Israeli wedding industry has now reached a stage of development that meets the standards of customers from abroad.

“The food is no longer hummus and falafel,” she said. “There’s tremendous choice, and suppliers are very professional. The food is gourmet and the service has also improved, so that people know they will get what they are expecting.”

Some of the more popular venues for brides and grooms from abroad boast a view of either Jerusalem’s Old City or the Mediterranean Sea.

“Couples won’t go to just a regular wedding hall,” Summerfield added. “They want something that’s different from what they could get in their own country. They want something with a ‘wow’ factor.”

Still, the trend does have some hitches. Most Israelis don’t plan their weddings so far in advance and sometimes, people from abroad will try to reserve a place a year and a half ahead of the event. “When they call, the people at the hall will tell them that their calendars don’t go that far ahead,” said Krasna, of CelebrateIsrael.com.

She also pointed out that the more “laid-back” Israeli mentality doesn’t always jibe with the more formal expectation of customers from abroad.

The couples, meanwhile, also need to navigate the bureaucracy of the rabbinate in order to get married here – a process that can be particularly daunting for tourists. Both the bride and the groom need to prove their Jewishness, but sometimes, couples will fly in just days before their wedding without always leaving adequate time to deal with the hassle.

A new service has emerged to facilitate the growing trend. ITIM: The Jewish Life Information Center will now open the necessary file with the rabbinate for a couple from abroad, so that they don’t have to wait until the last minute or ask a distant cousin to try and do it for them.

“We open the file and then they show up a day before the wedding to sign it,” said Rabbi Seth Farber, director of the Jerusalem-based nonprofit organization.

That’s what Cherie and Jonathan Morgan did for their Israeli wedding last summer. “We needed the right forms and the right papers since the process with the rabbinate is quite complicated, but Rabbi Farber helped us with everything,” Cherie said. The couple, who live in London, got married outdoors in a garden venue in Shefayim.

“I couldn’t imagine a stiff, formal wedding in England,” Cherie said of the experience. “I knew that I wanted to get married in Israel with some balagan [mess] and lots of people.”

      This story is by: Daphna Berman
    Henry Isaacs
Jewish Event Tip – The One Thing NOT To Skimp On

Jewish Event Tip – The One Thing NOT To Skimp On

Jewish Event Planning & Kosher CateringThe Jewish event can be an extremely lavish one or a cost effective basic one. Depending on the event, the location, the geographical region, or the target audience, the Jewish event ranges from a Bar/Bat Mitzvah featuring the Black Eyed Peas to a small Synagogue dinner for congregants. Most of us will probably deal with events basically in between those types – mainly average sized weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, organizational fundraisers, and even School Journal dinners.

But there’s one commonality in every type of Jewish event that determines the success and “must return” factor for the people attending (by success, I’m referring to whether or not people spread the word positively or negatively). And its the one thing never to skimp on. It’s the food. From the hor dourves to the dessert. Above all, the food is the main thing that will be discussed, critiqued, praised, and remembered at any Jewish event.

And in some cases, the food goes beyond just taste and abundance. Food becomes a social requirement. For certain social events, the Jewish market will go to many lengths to ensure Jewish foods, such as Israeli, Bukharian, Persian, Moroccan, etc, are able to be provided by their Kosher caterers. Once a Jewish ethnic group finds a caterer that provides their brand of food and great quality, they stick with it for ALL their special events. For organizational functions, having glatt kosher food, as opposed to simply kosher, attract a different crowd of people and thus a different type of donor.

Let’s face it – the Jewish demographic loves to have great Kosher food. We think the food fascination comes from a tradition rich in long holiday seasons, lifecycle celebrations that closely mingle joy and food, and even the Jewish family’s revolvement around the kosher kitchen. So certainly for the Jewish market’s special events they attend, after inquiring about the type of event, their second question is “So what’d they have?” The food is the main focus for the Jewish event. The venue could be glorious, the flowers magnificent, the orchestra toe-tappingly good; if the food isn’t up to the standards they’re anticipating, you’re event may not get the high marks you’re aiming for.

Now, for the occasional wedding, social event and one-shot event, that desirable word of mouth and buzz factor may not really matter, but for the organizational, non-profit, or corporate event that happens year after year, word of mouth/buzz is a driving force behind increased fundraising, attendance, sales and return customers. As frequent travelers can attest, free breakfasts at hotels is a great draw to get new reservations, but the quality of the food at these hotels has to be top notch for repeat business. Same for the Jewish event. The food doesn’t need to be innovative nor particularly creative – the food simply needs to be great and available in relative abundance. With this in mind, the one place you may be able to cut corners could be dessert, but ONLY because the rest of the meal was fantastic.

Overall, when planning an event, the food will make the difference between a good event and a great memorable event!


High Style EventsStylish Event Planners for the Jewish Event

P. 646.833.8604  |  E. Events@HighStyleEvents.com
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Weddings | Bar/Bat Mitzvahs | Social Events | Non-Profit | Corporate

The brains behind this blog.

The brains behind this blog.

Ever wondered “What does Kosher mean?” or “How can I sell more during Passover?” Henry Isaacs Marketing‘s blog, JewishMarketing101.com, has the answers. Run by the top Jewish digital marketing and Kosher advertising agency in New York, JewishMarketing101.com was built to help companies discover, understand and benefit from the thriving Jewish, Kosher and Israeli customer base.

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