(photo credit: Daniel K. Eisenbud)
Nearly 100 demonstrators gathered at the Restobar restaurant in Jerusalem Monday
night, located down the road from the Prime Minister’s Residence, to protest
what they said is the popular eatery/bar’s forced-closing due to its non-kosher
According to Rabbi Uri Ayalon, CEO of Jerusalem based civil rights
organization Hatnuah Hayerushalmit, the owners of the popular upscale restaurant
were given an ultimatum by the property’s owner to either make their menu kosher
Restobar co-owner Shahar Levy and the property’s owner could
not be reached for comment.
“The building’s owner can say whatever he
wants because it’s a private place,” said Ayalon. “But for us, as a civil-rights
organization in Jerusalem, this is a red flag because the outcome of such a
decision will not only affect Restobar, but every other nonkosher restaurant in
Ayalon, who said he personally keeps kosher, added that such
an ultimatum sets a dangerous precedent for civil rights and diversity within
“We want everyone to live in a pluralistic society to show that
Jerusalem is a free city – it has kosher and non-kosher restaurants and people
should be free to choose.”
Tzaphira Stern, an activist and member of the
Meretz Party, said she arranged the protest via social media.
all these people to come here via Facebook, and a lot of people came, which is
great,” she said. “There are obviously a lot of conflicting feelings among
secular Jews, but Meretz is 100 percent for secular freedom. It’s our civil
right to go there and eat on Shabbat, or whenever else we
Meanwhile, Ofer Berkovitch, chairman of Hitorerut Yerushalayim, an
organization dedicated to Zionism and pluralism, said he felt the closing will
further mitigate secular Jews within the city.
“We think that culture and
fun is important for secular people, which is a big part of Jerusalem,” he said.
“And it’s important to keep places like Restobar open for these
We are trying to get the owner of the property to understand how
deep the hurt is for the [secular] population when they close down a place like
Newly-elected MK Dr. Adi Kol of Yesh Atid mirrored Berkovitch’s
concerns in a prepared statement.
“We are witnessing another attempt to
marginalize the secular Jerusalem community,” said Kol, a former social-rights
activist. “Closing [Restobar] is another step in the war on the pluralistic
character of the capital city.”
In response to the closing, Ayalon said
he is proposing opening five non-kosher restaurants in Restobar’s place to
ensure Jerusalem remains diverse.
“Tonight we want to encourage the
owners of Restobar to open another restaurant,” he said. “And we want to
encourage other restaurant owners to open more [non-kosher] restaurants that
will answer the needs of a society that should be free to choose where and what
it eats. We are fighting for that right.”
This is not the first time
Restobar has been embroiled in controversy over its non-kosher menu.
2007, it was one of several Jerusalem non-kosher eateries protested by
ultra-orthodox groups for selling hametz during Passover.
a lawsuit filed against it that year for selling non-kosher fare, Restobar
remained blacklisted by segments of the religious