M iri Portal Epstein believes in giving back. The Aventura-based real-estate broker donates $360 from every commission to a charity or school designated by her clients.
“It makes everybody happy and everyone wins,” says Epstein. “It sets an example for my kids. It’s important to show them how much you care.”
A native of Israel, Epstein, 51, has been a real-estate broker in South Florida for over two decades. In addition, she provides consulting services for condo-conversion developers and represents groups of preconstruction condo buyers. Prior to starting her own company, Portal Epstein Group, she served as director of sales for The Roney Palace in Miami Beach and Island Pointe in Bay Harbor Islands.
Epstein says her clients also recognize the importance of giving back — with contributions ranging from national nonprofits such as the American Cancer Society and Make-a-Wish Foundation to local schools and colleges.
“Miri is selfless, thinking only about how to help other people,” says Amy Swissa. She and her husband, Rabbi Asher Swissa, have been working with Epstein to find a property for their Or Yaacov synagogue, previously located in Eastern Shores. “In addition to $360, Miri has provided us with ongoing help, as well as compassion and sensitivity.”
Epstein believes in donating one-tenth of her own net income to charity, a practice referred to as giving a “Maaser” in Jewish tradition. Her personal charities include Beit David Highland Lakes Shul and Chabad of Highland Lakes. Epstein hopes her children — daughter Avital, 23, and sons Isaac, 20 and Roi, 17 — will continue to practice this important tradition.
“I tell my kids, ‘Make sure when you get a salary that you give back.’ It comes back to you. That’s how it is,” she says.
To learn more, call 305-491-0820 or visit www.PortalEpsteinGroup.com.
Julio Cabrera of The Regent Cocktail Club at the Gale Hotel in South Beach was recently named the Miami finalist in Bombay Sapphire’s “Search for the Most Imaginative Bartender”.
Cabrera, 49, beat out 14 other local bartenders, including Asher Karnes (St. Regis Bal Harbour), Trevor Alberts (Martini Bar at The Raleigh) and Alan Oria (United States Bartenders’ Guild) during the seventh annual regional competition, held Aug. 26 at the Surfcomber Hotel in South Beach.
Cabrera’s winning cocktail, dubbed “Ganesha,” features Bombay Sapphire gin (of course), lemon juice and vermouth, along with homemade grapefruit-Masala syrup, elderflower espuma and Mumbai bitters. He says the drink was inspired as a result of a trip he took to India last year.
Originally from Cuba, Cabrera has been bartending since 1988. In addition to The Regent, where he works weekdays, he also tends bar on weekends at Fifty (Viceroy Hotel) in Miami.
For his efforts, Cabrera has earned a trip to Las Vegas, where he will compete against 51 other mixologists from across the U.S. in the semifinals Sept. 8 (at Caesar’s Palace) and, hopefully, the finals (top ten) on Sept. 9 at Mandalay Bay. Approximately 4-500 guests are expected at each event — and who will help determine the top cocktail.
Winner of the overall competition will be featured on the December 2013 cover of GQ magazine’s “Men of the Year” issue (with his winning cocktail), according to Bacardi Portfolio manager Gabe Urrutia.
As for Cabrera’s favorite cocktail, he says, “I enjoy them all. It depends upon the time of day and place where I am.”
In celebration of Rosh Hashanah, Temple Emanu-El of Miami Beach is hosting two festive meals (Sept. 4 and 5) prepared under the direction of “chef” Andrew Jacobs, a student at the Miami Culinary Institute at Miami Dade College.
A Miami Beach native, Jacobs, 24, is a graduate of Miami Beach Senior High. He attended Miami Dade College and Santa Fe College in Gainesville before deciding to become a chef. He’s slated to graduate in May 2014.
So, how did this novice end up in charge of the holiday dinners?
“The rabbi’s wife ( Valerie deRocca) came up to me and heard that I am in culinary school and asked me to help,” explains Jacobs. “Helping turned into doing it.”
The first night’s menu features Salmon Wellington with broccoli rabe for approximately 70 people. The second night’s fare: fried onion-crusted mahi mahi with sautéed green beans and spinach for about 30 guests.
“I am excited to be able to partake in all of the festivities at the temple and hope that everyone enjoys the meals that we’ve put together,” says Jacobs.
Will he be paid for his efforts?
“No,” says Andrew’s father, Jerry Jacobs, the synagogue’s co-president. “We are feeding him dinner.”
Temple Emanu-El is located at 1701 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach. For further details, call 305-538-2503 or visit www.tesobe.org.