How the Economics of Observance Work against Kosher Restaurants

Anyone used to eating at upscale, or even less-than-upscale, establishments is apt to find most kosher eateries overpriced, the tables too close together, and the service less than exemplary—even when the food is very good. Anna Rahmanan explores why this might be so:

“Kosher restaurants can’t be open 365 days a year—the number is probably closer to 200-and-something because of Shabbat and all the holidays,” explained [the kosher-food blogger] Dani Klein. “Right off the bat, then, they are losing almost 30 percent of the year.” It is only logical, then, that to be financially viable, kosher restaurants have to earn more than similar non-kosher establishments during the days that they are fully operational.

In addition to buying kosher ingredients, restaurateurs . . . have to pay for kosher-certification and a mashgiaḥ (basically, a supervisor who will make sure all kitchen-related activities abide by kashrut laws), [which] can cost upwards of $100,000 a year. To account for these additional expenditures, a lot of kosher eateries end up cutting corners in other aspects of the business, such as service, and, of course, raising the price of their dishes.

Add to it all the fact that finding waiters, chefs, and busboys willing not to work on Fridays and Saturdays—historically, the busiest and most tip-heavy days for a restaurant—automatically lessens the quality of the staff, and you’ve got yourself a pretty dire situation.

Even in cities like New York, where kosher restaurants are abundant in number, strictly kosher customers are relatively forgiving: no matter how bad the food or the experience as a whole, the majority of consumers tend to go back to an eatery because, after all, there are only so many kosher ones around.

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Judaism, Food, Kashrut

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7