Kerestir, Hungary…When Rabbi Refael Kruskal was working out the logistics for the escape of some 1000 Jews from Odessa, his immediate concern after housing was to secure kosher food. The refugees who managed to escape from heavy Russian bombardment settled in the Carpathian region of Romania near the Black Sea. The call for kosher food was answered by Moshe Yosef Friedlander who heads the Kerestir Guesthouse. Friedlander has an elaborate kitchen and foodservice operation in a town that includes the resting place of the legendary Reb Shayele Kerestirer who was known for his devotion to feeding the needy and his penchant for miracles. There is never a dull moment in Friedlander’s Guesthouse as thousands of visitors take advantage of his infrastructure that includes a synagogue and guest rooms. These days, Friedlander is hosting many Jews who are hoping to spend Rosh Hashanah in Uman, Ukraine despite warnings by officials of possible Russian bombings and the Russian government’s refusal to guarantee their safety.
“I am still seeing many refugees from the Ukraine, not only here but also in Muncasz, Hungary which is why I opened my second kitchen there,” Friedlander says. His guests admire the quality and quantity of the food, which is prepared by his dedicated staff.