Culinary fest leaves bad taste in some Jerusalem mouths

Chief Rabbinate’s kashrut division, prominent rabbis objected that festival would include non-kosher food served in the eateries spread out among the Old City.

By JONAH MANDEL
April 1, 2011 05:59
2 minute read.
The Jerusalem Old City Flavors Festival.

Jerusalem Flavors Festival 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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The beer taps in the plaza behind the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City stood untended in protective plastic wrapping late Thursday night, as the five-day Jerusalem Old City Flavors Festival wound down not only to the live sounds of Andalusian-jazz fusion, but also to the dissonance and high-pitched tones of protest.

Weeks before the festival began, the Chief Rabbinate’s kashrut division and prominent rabbis objected the fact that the festival would include non-kosher food served in the eateries spread out among the Old City’s quarters. The municipality refused to back down, and the festival began on Sunday as planned, with non-kosher food stands clearly marked to prevent confusion.

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The opening in the Jewish quarter was marked by the presence of religious protesters, who recited psalms.

According to a proprietor who wished to remain anonymous, haredi elements brought soiled, reeking diapers on the first night in a bid to keep people away. Another person involved in the event said that electric cables were cut.

“They did everything they could to get the people away, and damaged the proprietors’ income,” he said, referring to haredim.

An agreement said to have been reached between police and the local haredi leadership led to the prohibition of alcohol sales in the Jewish quarter during the festival. In addition, women reportedly were not allowed to sing as part of the live performances, and even the recorded background music was solely of male voices. The municipality would neither confirm nor deny such an understanding.

There were stands selling alcohol at the Jaffa Gate, and on Tuesday MK Ibrahim Sarsour (UAL) wrote a letter of protest to the prime minister and interior minister following complaints that Arab youths had been drinking and then entering nearby mosques.



Longtime Jewish Quarter resident Ephraim Holtzberg, who was active in the efforts to prevent the festival from taking place for kashrut reasons, stressed that this was not solely a religious struggle.

“First and foremost, this is a noise disturbance for residents, including old people and families with young children,” he told The Jerusalem Post at City Hall on Thursday during a city council meeting that reached high and dissonant tones during a discussion of the festival.

“Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is trying to turn the Old City into Disneyland,” Holtzberg charged. “We want the minimal rights of a residential neighborhood, such as the right to sleep at night.”

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