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Keeping Kosher in UK, Canada & Australia

  • Bethdine
In times gone by, kashrut was a challenging mitzvah to undertake because of the many intricacies that came as part of the package. However, it is interesting to note that it did not deter many from upholding the complex laws that obligate Jews to adhere to the Torah commandments pertaining to diet.
by SHIRA DRUION | Jul 08, 2015

LONDON

Twenty-first-century life has advanced Jewish diets too and presently, there are thousands of kosher products readily available the world over, with these product ranges expanding weekly.

SA Jewish Report put three major cities with large Jewish populations under the spotlight to see what they have to offer, in comparison to what is available in South Africa.

The South African Jewish community numbers some 70 000 and its members are fortunate to choose from an impressive selection of kosher products available at all local supermarkets.

Kosher butcheries, fisheries and bakeries provide the community with fresh and delicious goods and overseas visitors often remark that keeping kosher in South Africa could not be easier. “The kosher delis in Cape Town made our trip so much more enjoyable! We could not believe what was on offer.”

The United Kingdom has a Jewish community of approximately 300 000. Rabbi Eli Schoeman who grew up in Johannesburg, is the rabbinical co-ordinator of the kashrut department at the London Beth Din.

He says that for those fortunate enough to be living in a "Jewish area", keeping kosher is easy. There are kosher products from all over the world which are imported to the UK and there are many bakeries available to supply the community with a choice of kosher goods.

Schoeman adds: “For those living outside the typically Jewish areas, there is a kosher guide produced annually by the KLBD (Kashrut Division of the London Beth Din) as well as very efficient online searches with updated information (see www.isitkosher.uk ).

“Meat and dairy products are difficult to come by and people have to make different arrangements for how they get these delivered to their area.”

“There are approximately 270 000 Jews living in Toronto,” says Sharon Durbach, a South African expat living in the city who is a kosher caterer. “There is a lot of kosher food available here. There are large allocated areas where there are only kosher products and then in the non-kosher aisles, you just have to look on the packaging to find products with kosher stamps. Kosher meat is about two thirds more expensive than non-kosher meat and dairy products are also more expensive.”

Former King Davidian, Rabbi Myron Sacher, currently lives in Bondi, Sydney where he is a teacher of The Jewish Learning Centre and Kesser Torah College. 

“Kosher food is very accessible in the Jewish areas. The supermarkets in these areas stock many products, but finding them outside of these areas will prove a little tricky. Some of the products bear a kosher logo (KA, Kosher Australia, and Adass).

“Others are found in the kosher directory or online. Kosher meat is also more expensive,” says Rabbi Sacher, which confirms that kosher products are more expensive the world over as a result of the intensive stages of kashrut involved with the entire process.

In a price comparison of a whole kosher chicken across the continents, Jewish Report ascertained that kosher chicken comes out cheapest in Johannesburg at R77.30 per kilo as opposed to the United Kingdom at R80 per kilo, Toronto R90 per kilo and Melbourne at R88 per kilo.

For those looking to eat out, “There are a number of kosher restaurants available,” says Durbach from Toronto. “But it seems that not too many of them make it for longer than a few years because going out to eat with bigger families becomes a very expensive outing.

“We have a Mexican eatery, lots of Chinese take-outs, lots of pizza places, a fancy dairy place and my personal favourite, called Bistro Grand on Eglington. But we don’t even really have a good steak house! There are also many places where you can buy all kinds of readymade deli stuff.”

London has a very wide assortment of kosher restaurants servicing the thousands of strictly kosher customers. There are many milk restaurants, steak houses, Chinese and even an Ottelenghi restaurant which has become a real tourist attraction for authentic Mediterranean food lovers. 

“We have a few kosher restaurants available,” says Sacher from Sydney. “There is Katzys (meat), Bondi Pizza, Savion, Pita Mix and three branches of Glicks (kosher supermarket).

South Africa has a good selection of kosher restaurants, some of which have even become a favourite of overseas visitors who return to foreign shores raving about, “Frangelica’s dreamy muffins and cheesecake or Next Door’s many sumptuous delights!”

2 Comments

  1. 2 Lewis 09 Jul
    Kashrut and Kosher catering in Sydney is very disappointing.
    Pesach is particularly problematic as the variety available is very limited.
    Most products do not have Kosher labelS and you sometimes struggle to know which to buy.
    Kashrut in RSA, Canada, USA and the UK is way better than Sydney, probably related to the simple priniciple of supply and demand.
    In addition, the standard of cuisine at the kosher restaurants in Sydney is very average,boring and very expensive.
  2. 1 Denis Solomons 14 Jul
    My late uncle Cyril Solomons was in the Royal Air Force during the second world war and because there was no kosher meat available, he never ate meat for 6 years ! 

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