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PAGE 2B By Diana Burmistrovich JNS.org If the words "kosher ca- tering" conjure up visions of bland and unhealthy food, and memories of bar and bat mitzvahs past still haunt you, remember that planning your upcoming simcha doesn't have to be a monotonous process full of seen-it-befores or tried- that-onces. With the help of creative kosher catering professionals--or by simply looking within yourself-- your special day can be one of a kind. By including yourself in the process of creating (not just planning) your simcha, the event itself automati- cally creates a more personal feeling. One way to do this is by making invitations by hand, which allows control over color scheme, font, and design; you can make the in- vitation an extension of your celebration's theme or per- sonal interests. Imbuing the invitation with your personal style makes the atmosphere both more memorable and more meaningful. Rebecca Friedman of Ashe- ville, N.C.-based Farmer's Daughter Catering suggests crafting your own table cen- terpieces as a way to infuse personality into the event's ambiance. She also mentions that many clients want to work with the party planner, rather than allowing the planner to have total control. Others may break from the traditional style of first hav- ing a cocktail hour and then HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 31, 2014 Sprucing up the ,nodern sli00cha Farmer's Daughter Catering Tiny ice cream sundaes make for passable treats to save sit-down time at your simcha. getting on board with foods that are more environmental- ly friendly and healthier," says Friedman. "I've had a bride who grew her own herbs and greens to incorporate into my catering menu. It took a year in advance [to plan], but everyone remembered that part." Friedman suggests look- ing into old family recipes that can be used as part of the catering menu. That will create a catering menu that many guests haven't seen be- fore, and relatives will enjoy the sentiment. Whether it is through personalizing decorations or bypassing traditional a formal dinner for weddings, or from having separate meals for adults and kids. "When working with a client, I always ask them what they're envisioning with regards to the flow of the celebration," Ellen Vak- nine, vice president of sales & marketing for New York City's Espirit Events kosher caterer, tells JNS.org. Vaknine notes that for simchas being planned for 2014, she is seeing more people "opt for the extended cocktail [hour] with passed hors d'oeuvres and stations," without having a formal sit-down dinner. That way, children, young adults, and adults have the option of spending more time together, and kids don't have to face the ubiquitous schnitzel and pigs-in-a-blanket offered at so many simchas. Even for the parents who do choose to have "kid food," Vaknine suggests updating the presentation with funky touches. Soup can be served in eggshell bowls, and kebob skewers can be made from bamboo. Customizing menus to in- clude today's culinary trends is another way to modernize an event. Friedman--who specializes in catering us- ing only organic and local ingredients, and typically provides farm-to-table food options--notes the growing trend in using vegan, gluten- free, soy-free, and dairy-free foods as part of the simcha menu. "Although kosher food is usually unhealthy, it is slowly The Traditional Mohel for the Modern Family Rabbi Dr. Israel J. Barzak, CMR DM Gentle Certified Mohel Specialist Endorsed by the Greater Orlando Board of Rabbis Medical & Client References Faithfully serving for 25 years: North-Eastern, Central & Western Florida "Treating every baby as my very own with love compassion and TLC" www.floridamohel.com Study - 386-673-5535 Cell - 386-290-8833 Email- ijb@floridamohel.com Add a TRADITION to Bar/Bat Mitzvahs Weddings Cocktail Hours Receptions Brunches Whether your//ve mus/c ,00,terest for part/a/or fu//event enterta/nment, Ca//Now For booking information: Contact Steve at 407-629-2267 Like us on facebook at The Klezmer Project kosher fare, party planning doesn't have to be dreaded and stressful. With just a little bit of creativity, and by recognizing exactlywhatyou want for your special day, you can make your dream simcha a reality: Ellen Vaknine Soup shooters in egg shells from New York City kosher caterer Espirit Events. Jewish wedding gift d00)s and don'ts By Jacob Kamaras JNS.org Not another challah board! That's the collective cry heard 'round the Jewish world when newlyweds receive a Judaica gift they already possess. Don't be that friend--follow my simple do's and don'ts for Jewish wedding gifts. Do... Be creative There are inventive spins on Judaica items that are sure to leave a more last- ing impression than their traditional counterparts. Kiddush cup? How about a Kiddush cup fountain instead? It includes a center cup as well as 8-12 matching small cups, and when the reciter of Kiddush pours the wine from the center cup into the base of the fountain, the wine trickles down into the small cups. This avoids the clumsiness of pouring Kid- dush wine for each person at a large Shabbat meal, and perhaps more importantly, the streamlined process rou- tinely elicits"oohs" and"aahs" from guests. Challah board? How about a challah board breadbasket? This challah board transforms itself into a basket for distributing challah to guests after it is cut, keeping the Shabbat table uncluttered. Think practically Mull over this question: What Judaica does the couple really need around the house? More specifically, what does the couple need more than one of? A mezuzah (with a decorative case) immedi- ately comes to mind, given the multiple doorposts in Jewish homes calling for one. Even more practical--and more memorable--is providing the glass cup that the groom will break with his foot under the chuppah, along with a bro- ken wedding glass mezuzah, whose case includes room for those sentimental shards. Give cash Are you thinking that cash isn't sentimental enough, and that the couple won't "remember you" if you don't give a unique gift? Don't talk yourself into that myth. You'll be remembered quite fondly for your cash gift, with which the newlyweds can buy anything they desire. Don't... Be a copycat The couple will likely get multiple challah boards, chal- lah covers, menorahs, seder plates, and the like. Don't join the fray. Be original. Now, I admit, it would be quite un- fortunate if everyone followed my advice and the couple ended up with none of these hallowed Judaica fixtures. Compete with close rela- tives The couple's parents or other close relatives may purchase them silver Shabbat candlesticks ora Kiddush cup, or the bride and groom may ,7olor Your OuJn T-'tllrcs( . _J (inCludes uJa, shablemarKers) 1 #O7-#3/-OrEE I have had these items passed down in their family over time. Don't even think for a second that you can compete with bubbe and zaidy! Duplicate the registry This goes for non-Judaica items, and was a major pet peeve for me when I got mar- ried in 2013. "Duplicating" the couple's registry--for instance, getting dishes or silverware not listed on the registry--ensures three in- furiating outcomes: 1) You're getting the couple something they don't need, because someone more com- pliant than you will (wisely) buy the dishes requested on the registry. 2) The couple won't be able to exchange your redundant gift for something they do need because it came from a store unbeknownst to them. 3) Your gift will enter the notorious "re-gift closet." This creates a vicious cycle. By re- gifting your gift, the couple repeats your error ofgiftingan unregistered standard house- hold item. The gift proceeds to be re-gifted for perpetuity. Here's a dirty little secret: For couples, the point of making a registry is not just to get all the household items they need, but also to create the potential to exchange a string of registry items for more expensive items that you wouldn't have the gall to put on the registry.., like a couch. Why should your unwanted gift that cannot be returned spoil the couple's efforts to implement this wonderful strategy? Honestly, these are all just pointers. Any gift is deeply ap- preciated, and it's the thought that counts. At the end of the day, it isn't the presents, but your presence--at the wedding, if you can be there, or through your continued friendship--that matters. --With reporting by my wife