By Darwin Yanes and Nick Zararis
Few Kosher restaurants on Long Island remain open during Passover week and those that do have to spend a lot to meet strict requirements.
One of the kosher restaurants that chose to remain open during Passover is Oma’s Sushi in West Hempstead. The owners spent about $5000 preparing the restaurant to be kosher for passover. However, they expect business to increase during Passover week.
“Here’s the issue that I see, the holiday is expensive as is and it requires new food for everybody, new utensils, a lot of time and effort,” Uri Orenbuch, Partner of Oma’s Grill in West Hempstead said.
It is uncommon for Jewish businesses to be open during Passover because of the upfront cost. Some Kosher restaurants and supermarkets remain open to accommodate the Jewish community. To be certified Kosher for Passover, a restaurant has to throw out the existing food product, replace any cooking equipment and get new silverware Orenbuch said.
Kosher food has been prepared to certain religious specifications. There are different levels of kosher, with the highest being Glatt, which has been prepared under the strictest levels of Jewish dietary laws. All food that is certified kosher has a special symbol from a company that lets customers know that it was prepared properly.
On top of conventional restaurants, there are certain businesses that have pre-made kosher meals ready for pickup during Passover.
“Some people don’t really plan well ahead,” Adam Bolender, the owner of Kosher Thyme Marketplace, said. “The week leading up to the holiday gets pretty crazy, this year we sold a ton of brisket and soup.”
Many restaurants choose to close for Passover because of the intensity and cost of pre passover cleaning. The cleaning consist of getting rid of Chametz ,a mixture that contains flour and water that has been allowed to rise, in any property, and making all parts of the process of food preparation brand new.
Chametz is forbidden during the Passover holiday due to its roots in Jewish history. The holiday is the yearly celebration of the Jews escape from enslavement in Egypt. When the Jews escaped Egypt, God told them to have Matzah with Lamb and to replicate this meal every year according to Chabad.org.
“Matzah is [known as] poor people’s bread,” Ira Robinson Chair & Director of the Concordia Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies at Concordia University said.
The special needs for Passover are part of Myra Naseem, owner of Elegant Eating Catering company’s, planning while preparing menus. Although their food is not Glatt kosher for Passover, it helps people get ready for the holiday.
“They can’t purchase the contents of a seder plate in the supermarket but they can get one from us, all ready to put out,” Naseem said. “We make the meal delicious, easy and less stressful.”
The Passover Holiday ends Saturday April seventh, eight days after it started to mark when the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea ending their exodus from Egypt. For local Kosher businesses, it means a return to normal levels of demand.