Chamber of Commerce, Cleveland Passport Dinner, and the Wanderings of the Sephardic Jews

February 25 was a busy day for us as we attended four events in the greater Cleveland area.
In the morning, we went out to Sheffield for the North Coast Chamber Networking event. While there we spoke with several representatives from various businesses and non-profit organizations, like Dan Repas of Maximum Velocity and Danielle M. Zechman from the Community Foundation of Lorain County. We also ran into old friends, such as Tom Jelepis, the former mayor of Bay Village and current CEO of Bass Ohio. All of whom send their regards. The event drew in people from all over northeast Ohio and was well worth the drive.

Later, in the afternoon we drove to the other side of the Cleveland area to Mentor for the city’s Chamber of Commerce Lunch. We saw many familiar faces and were happy to have the chance to catch up with them. We were also glad to have the opportunity to meet quite a few new people with diverse interests, from writers like Robin S. Baum to business representatives.

After an eventful day of mingling we were rather hungry. Our next stop was therefore appropriate and extremely satisfying.  It was the Cleveland Passport Dinner, organized by Dan and Debbie Hanson, the amazing and legendary founders of We enjoyed an array of authentic, delicious Middle Eastern dishes, all of which was organic and natural. Just as excellent as the cuisine was the delightful conversation with leaders from Cleveland’s many ethnic communities such as Murat Gurer, Ken Kovach, Joe Meissner, Ingrid Bublys and Pierre Bejjani. It was an ideal setting to discuss our personal experiences as immigrants and how we can work together to strengthen our community and make Cleveland more open to the foreign born.

As the dinner was so wonderful, it was difficult to pull ourselves away and head on to the next event on our itinerary. We ended our day in Beachwood at a musical performance called “Sephardic Journey: Wanderings of the Spanish Jews” put on by Apollo’s Fire, the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra. Weaving together Sephardic folk songs and Hebrew choruses, the concert told the story of the Jews who were expelled from Spain over 500 years ago and the experience of the Diaspora. It was an incredible mix of beauty, sadness, and soulfulness, evoking the journeys of the Sephardic Jews over the centuries.