When you read the negative news, please remember that many Christians in Holland have a deep love for Israel and the Jewish people.

For about 40 years the Israel Product Centre (IPC), a Christian organization, has been importing products from Israel to support the Jewish people. The sister organization Christians for Israel does the educational part to tell the truth about Israel in schools and churches.

We stand behind Israel without any conditions or politics and do not try to convert Jewish people. That is why our contacts with the Jewish community are very strong and warm.

IPC has an Israel store to sell the products, a mail order department with two catalogues and several special sale letters per year, and a network of over 200 salespeople who sell the products from their homes. They receive no salary but can save air miles for a trip to Israel to visit the producers.

Some 20 years ago sales supervisor Fred Harms, a retired member of the Marine Corps, wanted more information about the wines for his salespeople. He asked me to write some notes.

I had a problem: As a wine consultant with over six years of study, I did not like the wines.

Information from the embassy and books by Daniel Rogov, well-known Israeli wine critic, confirmed that I was right. At that time, wines had to be kosher and the taste was of secondary importance. I had learned that you do not have to like a wine to give technical tasting information, so I asked for sample bottles. This was the beginning of a new wine love.

Over the years the wines have improved and many of them can compete with well-known wines from France and other countries. My notes became a booklet of over 100 pages that is used by the salespeople during their Open House days.

For many years we have held wine tastings in our store. During the summer, when there is an exposition about Israel, the wine tastings are combined with samplings of other products such as tea, jam, spices and olives.

I’m a wine connaisseur and I appreciate good food. I’m told that when I talks about the wines, the love on my face is visible. The most precious compliment I ever got was from two elderly Jewish men, who told me, “When you talked about OUR land and OUR wines, your face shone as Moses’ face shone on the mountain.”

Wine tastings for Jewish people are a pleasure to do.

After one particular event, when the Jewish visitors put all the bottles in the wrong order – they ignore the advice to start with dry white, then go to rosé, red, and end with the sweet wines – the director of the Jewish Hospice Immanuel in Amsterdam asked me if I would do a wine tasting for them after that uncomfortable experience.

Yes, of course! It was the beginning of a warm friendship. When the warehouse and offices were too small, a group of friends raised money to build a brand-new building. Upon entering, the visitor feels as if he or she is in Israel.

Christians for Israel publishes a monthly newspaper with a subscription of over 70.000 and is co-producer of the magazine Israel Today. When you enter Nijkerk, not far from Utrecht, by train, you can see the building and, in large letters, the words “Israel Centre.” In fact, the city council placed signs at the incoming roads with arrows to assist drivers.

When you read the negative news about boycotts and the like, please remember that many Christians in Holland have a deep love for Israel and the Jewish people.

Article by John Farenhorst

John is 70 years old and retired. Together with his wife and daughter he lives in the south of The Netherlands. Wine interests began as a hobby but over the years became important for the Israel Product Centre were he works as a volunteer. He is happy to meet many people in the Jewish and Christian communities in The Netherlands and around the world.