Bagels and challah for Jews protecting kosher at World Cup

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DOHA, Qatar — Rabbi Eli Chitrik’s telephone buzzes. A girl is about to indicate up at his Doha lodge to choose up her lunch: two bagel sandwiches.

It’s considered one of many calls and messages Chitrik is receiving nowadays for bagel sandwiches, freshly made in a chosen kosher kitchen arrange for Jewish World Cup followers who need to adjust to Judaism’s set of dietary rules in the course of the match in Qatar.

Chitrik mentioned the kosher kitchen has been making 100 sandwiches a day to feed followers from world wide, together with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, the US, Uruguay and Israel. Lately, manufacturing has elevated to greater than 100 to fulfill demand.

On Fridays, the kitchen makes challah, particular bread, often braided, that’s conventional meals on the Sabbath.

“There were some people telling me that they would only be able to come because of this,” he says. “Some people (were) telling me that they thought this was going to be their first Shabbat without challah and now they could send the picture to their mother that they have challah.”

Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the New York-based Basis for Ethnic Understanding, mentioned he had been concerned in discussions with Qatari officers for the previous 5 years to assist accommodate the attendance of Jewish followers on the match. In addition to making kosher meals accessible, he mentioned, discussions included the attendance of Israelis on the World Cup and direct flights from Tel Aviv to Doha, regardless of Israel and Qatar having no diplomatic relations.

“It’s a very important step from an interreligious point of view … from a Qatar-Israel point of view,” he mentioned. “There are so many levels here.”

Qatari officers, with their historical past of public assist for Palestinians, have insisted the non permanent opening to Israelis was purely to adjust to FIFA internet hosting necessities — not a step to normalizing ties as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates did in 2020. Qatar, which regularly serves as a mediator between Israel and the Hamas militant group in Gaza, has warned {that a} spike in violence within the occupied West Financial institution or Gaza Strip would derail the association. Regardless of a surge in lethal combating within the West Financial institution in latest days, nevertheless, it has taken no motion.

Having ties with Israel is a contentious matter, unpopular amongst many Arabs, as a consequence of components corresponding to Israel’s 55-year West Financial institution occupation and an absence of a decision to the Palestinian problem. Israeli social media has been crammed with movies displaying Israeli TV reporters receiving hostile receptions from Arab soccer followers in Qatar.

The Qatari World Cup organizing committee didn’t reply to emailed questions concerning the kosher kitchen.

Early every morning, Chitrik heads to the kitchen. There, he supervises the sandwich-making course of — from opening the ovens himself to inspecting elements for compliance with kosher requirements. Sundried tomatoes in jars, as an illustration, have been excluded for holding non-kosher elements; tomatoes are dried within the kitchen’s oven as a substitute.

“I know every little thing that happens in that kitchen, so that way I can tell you 100%, no question, this is a kosher sandwich,” he says.

Guests sometimes make preparations to choose up their kosher meals from Chitrik. He retains the bagel sandwiches saved into particular circumstances in his lodge room, with labels declaring the meals kosher.

Tirtsa Giller, who’s visiting from Israel for World Cup-related work, got here to the lodge on Sunday to choose up her lunch.

Flying into Doha, she had stuffed her baggage with dishes, a frying pan, cutlery, tuna cans and snacks to maintain kosher. Working lengthy hours and never desirous to depend on simply snacks, she mentioned she was excited when mates in Dubai advised her concerning the new kosher choices in Doha.

“Everyone was searching for this information, if there is kosher food,” she mentioned. “We were afraid that it’s banned because there were rumors. I’m happy to find out it’s not.”

When he’s not within the kitchen or handing out sandwiches at his lodge, Chitrik, who was born in Israel however raised in Turkey, mentioned he had been going out on the streets of Doha in his non secular garb, together with a black hat and tzitzit, a ritual fringed garment.

“I want to show that anywhere you are in the world, you can live openly as a Jew the same way, hopefully, you can live anywhere in the world openly as (a) Muslim” or Christian.

His father, Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, who chairs the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, got here to Qatar forward of the match to examine the kosher kitchen, which he and different rabbis concerned say was made doable by working with Qatari officers.

“Religious rights and freedoms of Jews, as well as any other religious group, are very, very important to be safeguarded,” mentioned Mendy Chitrik, who can also be the rabbi of the Ashkenazi neighborhood of Turkey.

“Football and food,” he mentioned, “bring people together.”

Related Press faith protection receives assist by the AP’s collaboration with The Dialog US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely chargeable for this content material.

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