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Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Passover Toast to a Kosher Innovator — On Religion - NYTimes.com

April 22, 2011
A Passover Toast to a Rabbi Known for Social Activism, and for Kosher Coca-Cola
By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN

Rabbi Tuvia Geffen, of blessed memory, was born in Lithuania in 1870 and educated in the renowned Slobodka yeshiva. In the wake of a pogrom, he immigrated to New York in 1903, and seven years later he moved to Atlanta to become the rabbi of Shearith Israel, a tiny and struggling Orthodox congregation meeting in the battered remnant of a Methodist church.

During his early decades at Shearith Israel, Rabbi Geffen established Atlanta’s first Hebrew school and oversaw its ritual bath. He stood by Leo Frank, the Jewish man falsely accused of murdering a young Christian girl, and after Frank’s lynching in 1915, the rabbi urged his congregants not to flee the South in fear.

At Passover in 1925, he spoke eloquently and presciently against Congress for passing immigration restrictions that “have slammed shut the gates of the country before the wanderers, the strangers, and those who walk in darkness from place to place.” As early as 1933, he warned about the Nazi regime in Germany. Long before feminism, he advocated for Orthodox women who were being denied religious divorce decrees by vindictive husbands.

But all those achievements are not why we invoke the name and memory of Rabbi Geffen today, more than 40 years after his death. No, we come to honor his least likely yet most enduring contribution to the Jewish people and his adopted nation: kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola.

Yes, observant Jews of today, searching supermarket counters for those bottles with the telltale yellow cap bearing the Orthodox Union’s certification, and yes, Coke die-hards of any or no religion who seek out those same bottles for the throwback flavor of cane-sugar Coke, you owe it all to Rabbi Tuvia Geffen.

He of the long beard and wire-rim glasses and Yiddish-inflected English, a man by all outward appearances belonging to the Old World, he was the person who by geographical coincidence and unexpected perspicacity adapted Coca-Cola’s secret formula to make the iconic soft drink kosher in one version for Passover and in another for the rest of the year. To this day, his 1935 rabbinical ruling, known in Hebrew as a teshuva, remains the standard.

That ruling, in turn, did much more than solve a dietary problem. A generation after Frank’s lynching, a decade after Congress barred the Golden Door, amid the early stages of Hitler’s genocide, kosher Coke formed a powerful symbol of American Jewry’s place in the mainstream.

“Rabbi Geffen really got the importance of it,” said Marcie Cohen Ferris, a professor of American studies at the University of North Carolina, who specializes in Jewish life in the South. “You couldn’t live in any better place than the South to get it. To not drink Coca-Cola was certainly to be considered un-American.”

Or look at the interplay of Jews and America from another angle. Rabbi Geffen’s solution to the Coke problem was not to forget the kosher rules and melt into the melting pot. But neither was it to decry the spiritual pollution of modernity in the form of a fizzy drink. A half-century before the era of cultural pluralism, his answer was to have the majority address the distinct needs of a minority.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The best Cocoa is From Venezuela!!

The Criollo Cocoa bean from Chuao is the best!!

Venezuelan village claims best cocoa

By Lissy De Abreu (AFP) – 3 days ago

CHUAO, Venezuela — As the sun beats down to dry cherished criollo beans in the main square in Chuao, residents of the village in mountainous northern Venezuela simply say: behold the world's best cocoa.

Of course, people in other countries, with chocolate on their happy faces, may beg to differ.

'If you are born in Chuao, your life is tied up with cacao,' Alcides Herrera told AFP, referring to the cacao tree which yields the cocoa bean from which chocolate is made.

Since 1976, Herrera's company, Empresa Campesina Chuao, has produced Venezuela's only cocoa beans with a coveted appellation certifying their origin.

'As a kid, for example, when I was passing through the square, and you could feel a rainstorm closing in, you would stop to help gather up the beans,' Herrera continued.

'Ours are the world's best cocoa beans. That has been certified, and experts from many countries agree,' he said. 'We process by hand with techniques that have been passed down for 400 years.'

More than 80 percent of the world's cocoa comes from the forastero cacao tree and less than one fifth from Chuao's criollo.

Many experts believe the criollo around here has a singular, tastier bean and they are top-of-the-list ingredients for many of the world's top chocolate-makers.

Beans from Chuao total about 18-20 tons a year; it's a tiny figure compared to the 20,000 tons Venezuela produces each year.

Recently, looking to boost output if possible, the government deemed cocoa beans a strategic crop. Now 35 percent of the annual take goes to a German firm; 35 percent goes to a new state Venezuelan Cocoa Bean Company; and the remaining 30 percent to local producers.

'We have our eyes on the sky to see if any clouds pop up,' explained Maryoli Chavez, 32, one of more than 1,200 workers at the cooperative.

'I like to work on the farm. We all do a bit of everything and make the same money. Some weeks I am on drying duty, other times I am out picking pods or breaking out the seeds.'

On this afternoon, three of Maryoli's kids were playing at her feet.

The cocoa industry has traditionally been women's work in Venezuela. Men tend to work in construction or the coastal region's fishing industry.

On cutting duty, the women wield machetes with skill, lopping off the violet or yellow pods in seconds; a few men trailing behind pick up and transport the pods for processing.

The area is just 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Caracas, but feels a world away as one has to travel in by sea as the town is wedged between a mountain and the Caribbean coast.

Edis Liendo, a local star among cocoa bean processors, hes been at it most of her life and is now 60.

'I think the cocoa bean is something from the heavens. It was what the gods used to prepare as a special drink,' Liendo says, hawking candies, liquor and desserts at the door of her home.

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.

AFP: Venezuelan village claims best cocoa

________________________ The MasterLiving Blog

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is David Beckham's Pepsi Clip Real or Fake?

Is David Beckham's Pepsi Clip Real or Fake?

:A new video — posted on Pepsi’s YouTube channel — shows soccer star David Beckham kicking three balls into three distant trash bins on a California beach. The video has caught the attention of Beckham’s fans as well as skeptics, who are discrediting the authenticity of the clip in comments on YouTube and on Diet Pepsi‘s Facebook Page.

Titled “Unbelievable David Beckham,” the 69-second video begins with Beckham playing with a soccer ball while holding a Diet Pepsi can. Then, the cameraman asks, “Hey, David, do you think you can hit that trash can over there? … How about all three of them?” Beckham, of course, confidently says yes and accomplishes the task while the cameraman reacts hysterically to each shot in the background.

As of Monday at noon, the clip had been viewed nearly 815,000. Pepsi posted the video on Thursday.

Do you think Beckham is this good or did he get some help from Pepsi’s video editing department? Put in your two cents in the comments below.

YouTube Video of the Day:

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Check it out on The MasterTech Blog

Friday, April 1, 2011

Original Canned Air

Original Canned Air


"The 'AIR from PRAGUE' is becoming a very popular souvenir and gift from Prague, Czech republic. We are offering an original product... 100% organic. Fresh air from Prague relieves stress, cures homesickness 
and helps fighting nostalgia."

"Feeling down? Got the blues? Buy a whole box of Air and open the cans whenever you feel sad, remember the atmosphere, marvelous time you spent in Prague and feel better."
Of course, the first time I saw this was in Jerusalem, where they still sell Holy Air.

As an alternative, I propose the following:

"Swiss Air" - Get High in the Alps  
One breath of Swiss Air and you’ll be relaxing before you know it. Perfect for winding down after that rough day at the office — or home.

Guaranteed Stress Reliever


"NYC Air" - Inhale the Action 
Party it up as if you were in the City that Never Sleeps. Purified to give you the buzz of New York City - without all the smog. 

Guaranteed to Wake You Up



________________________
The MasterLiving Blog


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