By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Anyone walking around Downtown Brooklyn, especially near the courts, can’t help notice that there is a substantial community of Orthodox Jews who work, and in some cases live, in the area.
For quite some time, observant Jews in the area have suffered from the lack of a kosher restaurant Downtown. Now, however, a kosher restaurant has finally come here – Shuk at 129 Livingston St., which specializes in Mediterranean cuisine.
Many non-Jews, and even some Jews, assume that if food doesn’t include pork or shrimp, it’s kosher. But that’s hardly the case. It has to be cooked in a kosher kitchen, served on plates and utensils that haven’t touched non-kosher food, and can’t include both meat and dairy in the same dish (indeed, there are separate meat and dairy dishes). In addition, kosher food has to be certified by a rabbi.
All this makes having a kosher restaurant vitally important for Orthodox Jews. Until now, the only alternative has been a small take-out store on Court Street, or bringing food from home.
Owner Aharon Moualem, originally from Ramat Gan, Israel, established the restaurant one and a half years ago. Originally, he said, it was not kosher and had the name “B Lunch.” However, he said, “Many Jewish people, especially from the courts, knew I was Jewish. They came to me, and they kept asking, `Why don’t you make it kosher?’”
Moualem, who has owned several other restaurants in the New York metro area, finally did so, with the help and support of Rabbi Aaron Raskin. Raskin is spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Avraham, an Orthodox synagogue on Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights. In the process, Moualem had to install an entire new kitchen.
Most of the food is Middle Eastern – felafel, schwarma, hummus, shish kebab – common in Israel as well as in the Arab world. But Moualen also serves what he calls American-Jewish “classics” such as chicken soup and pastrami, because there’s a demand for them.
A glance at the people eating there revealed that not all were Orthodox or observant. One lawyer who was there was a group of other attorneys said, “We’re tired of all the other places in the area, and we decided to check this place out.”
Another man who works near the courts, whose first name is Evan, said, “I used to come here before [it was kosher].” Asked whether he saw a difference in the food, he answered, “That’s what I’m about to find out.”
Speaking to the Eagle, Rabbi Raskin said, “I’m very happy that he’s here. As more and more Jewish people come to the area, and many become more observant, there’s more demand. We wish him well, because his success is our success.”
To reach Shuk, call (718) 522-4500.