I wanted to add my last thoughts about Rogov.
Ten years ago I was studying at Hebrew University. I was disappointed in the quality of the butter available at Israeli supermarkets and, having become a fan of Rogov's writing through Haaretz, I wrote him an email. He informed me the best butter in the country was buffalo butter. I was pleasantly surprised to discover Israel had its own herd of buffalo and they were producing cheese and butter from it. It was truly the best butter I ever had, with a beautiful golden color. Rogov then invited me to participate in the old Strat's Place forum. It was an example of the old saying, "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear". It was at the moment in my life when I was first interested in "the finer things", food, wine, cigars, and (for what it's worth) European high culture and and tradition. Rogov impressed me equally with his knowledge as with his sense of fairness and civility--what in Yiddish is called Menschkeit. I found him masterfully balancing the idea of an open forum with the need to moderate knuckleheads. He never spoke down or made you feel inferior. He loved to inform.
He also had a way of, frankly, making the ridiculous seem cultured. For example, he once recommended tasting formica counters in order to fully appreciate the flinty notes in a grand cru chablis. He would fly into fits of fun rage over such controversial topics as the inedibility of ostrich eggs. When he said he had very interesting conversations with the dogs in his neighborhood, it was somehow plausible.
Eventually, Rogov invited me to his outdoor office on Basel Street, aka Arcaffe. It was the most thrilling conversation I had ever had, and I took voluminous notes. Whatever we spoke about (I'll have to dig up the notes) stimulated my thoughts more than I could imagine, and the conversation shot like a pinball from one topic to another. We developed a true friendship. One thing he told me but never mentioned in the forum was that he preferred to be called "Rogov", in the manner of European intellectuals who only used last names. When he found I used a pseudonym for my musical career, he lit up and it seemed to bond us. I remember thinking, "Rogov is not his name, but if he doesn't volunteer the information, I will not ask him to reveal his secret identity." In fact, there was a guy on the old forum named Edward G. Robinson who wrote wistfully of the old New York City of egg creams and kosher delicatessens. Rogov was convinced I was Edward G. Robinson due to the affection we (Rogov, me, and Ed) had for the era. I'm not sure if he believed my denials, but I was not him.
As we became closer, the pilgrimage to Basel Street became an essential part of my trips to Israel over the past ten years. He became a mentor, an uncle if not quite a father figure. He told me about how he met Rachel and I asked him for advice about girlfriends. On my last trip to Israel in September, 2009, he tried to set me up with his niece with the warning that he would kill me if I didn't treat her like a gentleman. Alas, we had no chemistry. I also remember at that time he was concerned about the Iranian threat and the future of Israel. "You know", he said looking around the North Tel Aviv streetscape, "Israel is a pretty damned good place to live." I concurred, and at that moment I think I understood an essential part of being a Israeli: the burden of being able to visualize what the country would be if there were no war.
If we consider Daniel Rogov to be a character created by David Joroff, then that character would be a man out of time, a romantic composite of various archetypes of twentieth century Jewish men. There is the genteel, cultured Jew of early 20th century Vienna, whose embrace of European culture rejects anything exclusionary, snobby, or mean; the intellectual academic Jew of postwar France who was a peer of Godard and Foucault; the Brooklyn Jew of the middle twentieth century who had the egg cream coated guts and credentials to make the case that the Great American Songbook constituted high culture (even if, as he sorrowfully noted, The Simpsons did not). And in so far as Zionism itself was a romantic movement to recreate lost diasporas inside the ancient homeland, Rogov was an archetypal Israeli. I think this explains the incongruity of a man who would have seemed to be more at home in Paris or New York. Like the prophets of old, he had a vision of what Israel could be. That vision wasn't just a place with world class restaurants and wineries; it was also a place where all its inhabitants would be welcomed and valued without having to change themselves. It is a grand vision, one impossible to dream anywhere else in the world besides Israel. As a fellow vagabond with an incurably romantic disposition, I think I understood what Rogov was doing and loved him for it.