Einstein on Wine: Decanting Relativity

By Amy Scherzer
Published February 16, 2007

A mix of 20 $50,000-and-up donors and their guests enjoyed a lively Q&A roundtable discussion with Gen. Colin Powell at Tampa Jewish Federation's fourth annual President's Dinner on Sunday.

Then 200 donors and sponsors at the $5,000-and-up level joined the 65th secretary of state for cocktails, before the rest of the 980 guests filled A La Carte Pavilion.

Powell spoke with refreshing candor for nearly an hour, touching on everything from his roots in the Bronx Jewish community where he learned Yiddish to U.S. relations with China to aging gracefully.

"He was so real," said Franci Rudolph, committee member.

Federation president Laura Kreitzer and chief executive officer Gary Gould presented the Tikkun Olam award, their version of a lifetime achievement honor, to Jack Roth.

Event co-chairs Deborah Rosenthal and Sharon Stein raised $220,000, in addition to the 2007 campaign commitments.

Radio show host Michael Reagan, who does a spot-on imitation of his late father, spoke of growing up as the son of a governor and U.S. president at Celebrating a Lifetime of Memories.

The event on Feb. 6, which is Ronald Reagan's birthday and Florida Alzheimer's Awareness Day, was the first dinner benefit for the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute.

He wasn't close to his famous father for many years, Reagan told 280 guests at the Wyndham Westshore, including Republican heavy hitters Ralph Hughes, Lorena Jaeb and Sandy Murman.

They eventually expressed their love, and when Alzheimer's stole his father's memory, he knew his son only as "that guy who hugs me."

Emotions were high, when my colleague Ernest Hooper took the microphone.

His gut-wrenching interview with Connie Lesko, caregiver for her parents who both have Alzheimer's, segued to a plea for funds.

The $200-ticket dinner, featuring Charleene Closshey singing, dancing and playing her fiddle, raised more than $70,000.

Now here's a great science fair project: sampling 80 varieties of wine at the 12th annual Einstein on Wine benefit for the Museum of Science and Industry on Feb. 3.

Sponsors ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and BEAM (Be Enthusiastic About MOSI) members suggested merlot with lasagna from Buca di Beppo and paired chardonnay with chateaubriand prepared by MOSI's Catering crew.

Wholly Cats rocked the lobby as more than 1,500 tasters discovered 20 restaurant samplings among the exhibits.

Outside the front entrance, a lively street party sprung up around Busch Gardens' beer, Starbucks' cinnamon dolce latte and Thompson & Co. cigars.

Organizers netted more than $50,000 for education programs.

Congratulations, Jim Shimberg Sr., Citizen of the Year, who was stunned when 2000 recipient Ted Couch read his biography to 850 savvy civic leaders at Monday's Governor's Luncheon at the Florida State Fair.

The attorney/developer prefers to fly under the radar, said Couch, who credited him for founding University Community Hospital, developing Town 'N Country Park and serving 25 years on the Judeo-Christian Health Clinic.

His greatest joy - his five kids and 15 grandkids - stayed hidden until the big surprise.

On Feb. 8, Iris Wall, 77, of Indiantown won over the opening day lunch crowd as 2006 Woman of the Year in Agriculture.

Her infectious laugh and love of "family, cows, horses and woods" left them wanting more of her so-called "Cracker tales."

Introducing her, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a farm girl herself, noted agriculture brings $83-billion to Florida's economy, adding, "I'm preaching to the choir here."



Sam Gibbons was, of course, a longtime U.S. representative, not a senator. And the award-winning event design firm is called ConceptBAIT. My apologies for misidentifying them in last week's Diary.


Feb. 23: Fifth annual All Star Charity Gala benefits DeBartolo Family Foundation; 6:30 p.m.; A La Carte Pavilion.; $300; 964-8302.

Feb. 24: To Life, To Heroes, To Courage benefits Florida Holocaust Museum; dinner speaker Rwanda hotel manager Paul Ruesabagina, 6:30 p.m.; A La Carte Pavilion; $200; (727) 820-0100, ext. 243.

Feb. 24: Fourth annual Starry Nights benefits Mental Health Care Foundation; 7:30 p.m.; Tampa Club; $125; 272-2244, ext. 246.