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Tucson to Israel to Oregon, celebrating with cake, music, truffles, and movies

Newly-minted septuagenarian

Septagenarian Andy Kunsberg “in the glow”.

When Andy Kunsberg turned 70 in mid-December, his wife, Linda, planned a late December celebration. The party wasn’t a surprise but the guest list was. Relatives — daughter Rebecca Goodman, her husband Ted and their three children, plus Andy’s brother, brothers-in-law, nieces, great niece and nephews, from Florida, California, Indiana, and Tucson — comprised a mini-family reunion.

Filling six tables at Trattoria Pina, guests enjoyed dinner and each other’s company. There were not one but two cakes — one provided by the restaurant and another homemade chocolate cake from their dear friends Cheryl and Mark Levine, topped with seven candles representing Andy’s seven decades.
Attendees new to Tucson took in the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, horseback riding, and the local environs. On to many more milestone birthdays.

The two Izzys

UA students, from left, Hanna Jacobson, Rachel Morris, Lauren Salsburg, Shira Khotim, and Berkley Silvin, with Aaron Rothschild in front, on Masada.

There is Birthright Izzy and Hillel Izzy. When prospective donors receive Birthright Israel fundraising letters, these mailings are signed by Israel (“Izzy”) Tapoohi, president and CEO of Birthright Israel Foundation. When University of Arizona students traveled on the winter Birthright trip, Izzy Kornman, UA Hillel’s Springboard Innovation Fellow, was one of the chaperones. This was Izzy’s seventh time in Israel. Among other trips, she traveled on summer 2014 Birthright as an Emory University student, participated in an Onward Israel summer internship in college, staffed a summer 2017 Birthright with Sachlav, and spent a month last summer learning about Innovation at Hebrew University.

On the Dec. 18-30 trip, students on Birthright Bus 1593 hailed from UA, Arizona State University, University of Washington, Duke University, University of Southern California, and University of Colorado Boulder. According to Kornman, they were joined by six “amazing” soldiers for the entire journey. One of the high points was the opportunity to visit one of the soldiers’ army bases, meeting their fellow troops and getting a drone demonstration and tour of the practice terror tunnels used for training. This gave the group insight into the daily reality of Israeli army life.

Besides the usual site visits, other highlights of their itinerary:

• Harduf, a farming collective in northern Israel that focuses on organic sustainable farming as well as Montessori-style education for mentally disabled children and adults. Birthrighters learned about their art therapy and farming program for adults with mental disorders like PTSD and bipolar disorder.

• First Shabbat on Kibbutz Maagan on the beautiful, peaceful Sea of Galilee/Kinneret. A student with a guitar led the Shabbat service and later the recitation of the Shehecheyanu upon entering Jerusalem.
Whether sleeping in a hotel, on a kibbutz, or in a Bedouin tent, the group felt at home in Israel during this 10-day heritage trip of a lifetime.

An education in truffle hunting

“Truffles”

Last month, Bill and Joyce Becker attended the Oregon Truffle Festival in Eugene with their Lagotto Romagnolo dog, “Truffles,” and took the two-day Truffle Dog Training class. The day before the class began, the “Joriad,” a truffle-hunting competition, was held. This contest was named after the Oregon dirt in which the truffles grow. The couple enjoyed seeing the truffle-hunting dogs of different breeds sniffing the boxes of dirt and then alerting their handlers when they smelled the fungi.
For the following days, each participant received a day-by-day activity booklet with training instructions and a training kit with white truffle oil. The first day of training was at the hotel with the highly experienced trainers. The program covered people and dog etiquette, scent training, how to recognize the dog alert, and how to handle, clean, store and preserve truffles, in addition to where to find white and black truffles.

The second day was the big truffle hunt in the forest’s truffle patch under the guidance of the trainers. The dogs can only smell the truffles when they are ripe. The people who own the truffle patches like to have dogs hunt for the fungi because they aerate the ground. The dogs dig in the ground for the ripe truffles but don’t disturb the earth where the truffles are not yet ripe. Fresh culinary truffles only last up to a week in the refrigerator and must be able to “breathe” in the air every day. Truffle salt, oil and cheese last longer. Another part of the conference catered to chefs who cook truffles and to “truffieres” who grow the trees infused with black Perigord truffles from France.

One evening, the Beckers dined at Marche, a French restaurant in Eugene, where the waiter brought them a white and a black truffle, each under glass, to be able to smell the difference. He helped them order food with the white and black truffles. Bill and Joyce’s pasta dish topped with one-inch round slices of black French Perigord truffles was delicious. The pair highly recommends this well-organized, fun-filled annual course.

They did it again!

Tucson International Jewish Film Festival committee members, from left, Talya Fanger-Vexler, Anne Lowe chair), Sheldon Clare, Deanna Mendelow, and Elisabeth Guillen prepare to distribute egg cream ingredients.

Katie Spector, arts and culture manager at The Tucson Jewish Community Center/director of the Tucson International Jewish Film Festival, and her 15-member committee wrapped up another incredible run of film viewing. From Jan. 6-20, there was something for everyone in this 28th TIJFF season.

According to Spector, “This year’s festival was a great success. Almost 3,000 people were in attendance at SaddleBrooke Desert View Performing Arts Center, the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, The Loft, and the J, its home base. The dedication of the committee is shown in how well the festival is run. There is never a shortage of free popcorn or someone to help you to your seat or answer a question. The festival committee meets weekly throughout the year to select films for viewing and hone in on the perfect line up. I would be remiss not to mention our devoted audience. Day after day I saw some of the same people coming to the J to enjoy our films.”

On the final Sunday, three short films were shown, including “Egg Cream.” The movie was followed by speaker Barry Joseph, a New Yorker and author of the book, “Seltzertopia.” He spoke of the history of the beverage and instructed the audience in mixing the perfect egg cream at their seats, using Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer (in that order). The drink was accompanied by a black-and-white cookie, a New York favorite.

Time to share
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