Kosher-keeping Jewish sports fans won't have to starve during the FIFA World Cup games in Qatar — in a historic move, kosher food will be sold in this Middle Eastern country that has no diplomatic ties with Israel.
Rabbi Marc Schneier of New York — an influential Jewish figure in the Muslim world — together with a Turkish Rabbi announced the opening of the first kosher kitchen ever in Qatar in time for the opening match of the FIFA World Cup. The month-long event is expected to attract thousands of Jewish fans from overseas.
"The FIFA World Cup is about bringing people together, interacting with different nations, cultures and faiths, and making everyone feel included and welcome," said Schneier, who is the president of the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a global center for Muslim-Jewish relations.
Schneier has been working closely with Qatari officials for the past 5 years to accommodate the attendance of Jewish fans at the World Cup.
"The leadership of the State of Qatar is performing a 'mitzvah' by making kosher food available for members of the worldwide Jewish community, including those traveling from Israel," Schneier said. "Furthermore, the Qataris have stood by and followed through on every commitment that was made to welcome Jewish fans to this prestigious event."
"Just finished preparing the first Kosher Kitchen in Doha — serving Kosher bagels for the FIFA World Cup."Rabbi Mendy Chitrik
What kosher food is available in Qatar?
The kosher kitchen is under the supervision of Rabbi Mendy Chitrik of Istanbul and Chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States and his son Rabbi Eliyahu Chitrik. The kosher food includes the baking of the first bagels in Qatar and other ethnically Jewish delicacies.
At the moment, kosher In Qatar will sell challahs for Shabbat, bagel sandwiches with spreads such as hummus, vegetables and smoked salmon. If there is a large enough group of kosher Jews at the games, the menu is expected to be larger.
In a press release sent by Schneier, he thanked in particular H.E. Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways for dedicating a Kosher kitchen at QACC - Qatar Aircraft Catering Company and Attila Dogudan, Chairman of FIFA's VIP caterer Do & Co for overseeing the Kosher Qatar initiative.
In working with H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Schneier was joined by the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Qatari-American Strategic Relationships, Congressman André Carson and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Qatari Ambassador to the United States H.E. Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani and H.E. Dr. Ibrahim Bin Saleh Al-Naimi, Chair of the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue.
"The leadership of the State of Qatar is performing a 'mitzvah' by making kosher food available for members of the worldwide Jewish community, including those traveling from Israel."Rabbi Marc Schneier
Judaism in Qatar
Qatar has no indigenous Jewish community or kosher food production, making it harder for Jewish football fans to share in the celebration of the World Cup. It also has no relations with the State of Israel, but recently announced direct flights from the Jewish state for the duration of the competition. The Kosher kitchen will be open for this entire period.
Schneier, as President of the New York Board of Rabbis in the 1990s, was instrumental in inaugurating kosher food stands at Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium in New York.
"Just finished preparing the first Kosher Kitchen in Doha — serving Kosher bagels for the FIFA World Cup, a project of my friend Rabbi Marc Schneier," Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, who is very active on social media, tweeted last week. In order to follow the updates on Kosher food in Doha, Chitrik asked his followers to find updates while searching #KosherInQatar on Instagram. The Instagram page has a list of kosher items, sold at Qatari supermarkets such as Lays potato chips, Greenseas tuna and American Garden popcorn.