The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 1 September 2012 / 13 Elul 5772

Keeping Kosher in Costa Rica

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

Can you imagine a New York-style kosher deli in faraway Costa Rica?

Jeremy Zibell, a 25-year old arrival from Montreal, recently opened one there after a friend who visited this tiny Central American country told him that not much was happening there as far as Jewish deli food was concerned.

Kosher food in general has been available for only about a decade for the 2,500 strong Orthodox Jewish community established in Costa Rica in the 1930s. Two local rabbis, Rabbi Gershon Miletski and Rabbi Hersh Spalter, have established operations for slaughtering and importing meat and poultry.

An Israeli by the name of Gil Aharoni does a big business in kosher foods in his "Little Israel" market and offers an on-line catering service for tourists who observe kashrut rules while visiting the countrys jungles and rain forests. A newly opened resort on the Pacific Coast has even set aside a kosher kitchen for its guests.

This is all a far cry from the situation when Rabbi Miletski arrived to become head of the local Israel-Zionist Center: "Ninety percent of the space in the suitcases my wife and I were carrying would be filled with food we were bringing back from our visits to family in Israel."

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