Ira Rifkin

The Roots Of the Concord

Squeeze a Concord grape, and it practically screams kosher wine. Jelly sweet, the much maligned Concord has been the traditional kosher wine of choice at American Passover Seders for what seems like forever. So brace yourself for irony: The Concord has a suspected antisemitic horticultural past.

The Long Way Home to Lhasa

Tibet would seem to have little history in common with Israel. Yet much like Jews after the destruction of the Second Temple, today Tibetans face the daunting task of preserving their religious culture and national dreams while facing an indeterminate exile.The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled political and cultural leader, is well aware

How Celia Cruz Saved an Amazon Night

I came of age at just the right time to enjoy Celia Cruz — the greatest female singer salsa has ever produced — in her prime, and for her to help shape my lifelong musical tastes. Without her knowing it, she once helped get me out of a frightening situation in a drug-saturated Peruvian river town.Some 40 years ago — between doo-wop and the