April 20, 2009

Black Friday in the Kosher Market

Passover had just ended an hour or so ago on Thursday night when supermarkets and grocery stores were again filled to capacity. In Boro Park, some stores had barely had a chance to remove the paper that covered the chametz products when shelves were quickly emptied. A fully-stocked aisle with cereals emptied within an hour as the manager rushed to restock with boxes hastily brought up from the basement. Just two stores down, there was a line out the door for the customary (not based in Jewish law) post-holiday pizza. Kosher pizza parlors only sold pies that night. The next day Friday wasn’t just an ordinary “isru chag” (the end of the holiday); it was “erev Shabbos” and kosher households were hastily combining leftovers with fresh takeout foods and challah prepared since the holiday ended.

So busy was the Friday in Jewish communities throughout the US that one retailer aptly called it “Black Friday,” the reference to the day after Thanksgivings that officially launches the December holiday buying season. The irony is that some retailers seemed ill prepared for the post holiday onslaught, prompting one to ask in an e-mail: “Is the day after Passover also a holiday?” The fact that this year the day after Passover was on the eve of Shabbos compounded the problem but it might be a good idea for retailers to prepare their staff for the day when Jews restock their pantries. Rabbis traditionally warn their flock not to restock just in any store and to make sure that stores that may be Jewish owned or Jewish managed and are thus required to “sell” their chametz.

The good news is that Black Friday in the kosher market comes around every couple of years on the Jewish calendar but the breaking news is that next year it will be Black Wednesday.