February 19, 2020

Thousands of Kosher Meals Served at European Jewish Heritage Sites

Kerestir, Hungary… Visitorsby the thousands ascend weekly to this town to pray at the gravesite of Rabbi Yeshayah Steiner (1852-1925) also known as Reb Shayala Kerestirer. Known as a holy man and sage of many miracles, Jews from around the world travel here to pray, hoping for a miracle in their own lives. Recognizing the need to properly host the throngs that arrive here, Mr. Moshe Friedlander, a New York real estate entrepreneur, set up a hospitality house in 2016, complete with a small hotel and a fully staffed kosher kitchen. Israelis in particular are taking advantage of cheap fares by discount airlines to come here. On a recent early February, Mr. Friedlander’s operation served more than 300 people with significantly higher amounts on some days. The hospitality house serves breakfast/brunch till early afternoon followed by dinner which often lasts until 6 the next morning. The Kerestir program is part of the rapidly expanding Jewish heritage travel by hundreds of thousands of Jews, including sites of holy sages in Poland, Rumania, and the Ukraine. This has dramatically increased the availability of kosher food in these East European sites and has created an entire industry of travel planners who organize such trips to such gravesites as Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, the Baal Shem Tov (founder of the Chasidic movement), and Rabbi Nachman of Breslau (Uman, Ukraine). Airlines say that they have significantly increased the number of strictly kosher meals they serve on those routes including such carriers as Lot, the national airline of Poland.