Rabbi Declines to Restore Kosher Certification at Kossar’s Bialys
Tablet columnist (and local resident) Marjorie Ingall wrote an entertaining and interesting piece on the return of Kossar’s Bialys. Her story is based on last weekend’s panel discussion at the Museum of Eldridge Street, which included Kossars’ co-owner Evan Giniger. Deep in the article, there’s some news regarding the rejuvenated shop’s kosher certification.
When Giniger and David Zablocki purchased the business in 2013, they decided to institute Saturday hours. A local rabbi, Shmuel Fishelis, agreed to maintain Kossars’ kosher status under an arrangement in which Giniger’s share of the company was temporarily transferred to Zablocki (a non-Jew) before Shabbos. In an interview earlier this month, Giniger told us he would soon be sitting down with Fishelis to discuss restoring the certification. But during the panel discussion, Giniger said the rabbi balked. Here’s an excerpt from Tablet’s story:
The original Kossar’s wasn’t kosher, but one of the successive families that bought the store was Orthodox; they got certification from a local rabbi. “But we can’t sell only bagels and bialys anymore,” Giniger said. “And we can’t afford to be closed on Saturdays.” … But the other concerns were tougher. The local rabbi’s certification doesn’t hold a lot of power outside the neighborhood, and Giniger wants to do wholesale and online sales. Larger agencies that certify kashrut “wouldn’t even talk to us, because they said they’d get backlash.” … Since Kossar’s started making its own cream cheese, and got a grill for eggs and babka French toast, the original rabbi-from-the-block announced, in Giniger’s words, “I can’t certify you now, because your operation is more complicated. My higher-ups won’t approve.”
Giniger went on to say he wants “desperately to serve every member of my community.” But:
The Lower East Side is no longer an Orthodox community… It serves a lot of different communities. It’s one of the last Manhattan neighborhoods in transition; it’s old and new at the same time.
More than anything else, the Kossar’s team wants to make sure the historic bialy business has a future — on the Lower East Side and beyond. For this reason, they say, there are tough decisions to be made about how the store is operated.