Labour-run council refuses Kosher stand at Christmas market

Ta'am restaurant can't operate over Shabbat because Judaism forbids it, but Manchester City Council refused to negotiate, co-owner tells the 'Post'.

Shoppers sit on concrete blocks placed as an extra security measure as they visit the Christmas Market in Manchester, Britain, November 30, 2017 (photo credit: PHIL NOBLE/REUTERS)
Shoppers sit on concrete blocks placed as an extra security measure as they visit the Christmas Market in Manchester, Britain, November 30, 2017
(photo credit: PHIL NOBLE/REUTERS)
The owners of Ta'am, a kosher restaurant in Manchester, UK, have been left frustrated after the city’s council refused to let them operate a stand at a Christmas market since they would not be able to open on Fridays and Saturdays because of Shabbat.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to be able to get into the city center, because there’s nowhere that offers any kosher food,” Martine Vaizman, co-owner of Ta'am, said in a phone interview with The Jerusalem Post.
This year, the annual Manchester Christmas Markets is celebrating their twentieth anniversary. The city even regularly puts up a large menorah during the festival of Hanukkah. But for observant Jews at the weeks-long event, there are no stands that serve kosher food. “It’s never been done before,” Vaizman said.
Martine and Amos Vaizman have been running Ta'am for about eight years. Over that time, the kosher business has grown from a small and regularly packed Israeli-style takeaway to an up-market eatery.
The Christmas markets, which this year are welcoming over 300 traders, according to the Manchester Evening News, has plenty of activities for children and is well attended by the local Jewish community, Vaizman told the Post.
“I was granted a last minute stand and agreed to do it," Vaizman explained. "I had to liaise with the Manchester Beth Din on how I was going to be able to do it, which was quite difficult because I don’t want to lose my license.”
The Manchester Beth Din, which certifies Ta'am as a kosher establishment, said that if the restaurant were to change over their equipment and sell the stand to an imam over the Shabbat it would be acceptable.
“I had agreed with the council that I was going to be doing the stand, and I could have done it seven days a week like that,” but the council refused.
Vaizman asked the Labour-run council if she could sublet the stand. “It would still be my name, my insurance and everything,” she said.
“They weren’t having it,” Vaizman said.
In a statement to the Post, a Manchester City Council spokesperson said: “We welcome and support traders from a multitude of faiths and backgrounds to trade at Manchester’s markets.
“We were working with the restaurant ahead of this year’s Christmas Markets. Unfortunately, after originally agreeing to open every day throughout the market period, as per the terms and conditions for trading at the market, the trader said that they would be unable to open on Friday and Saturdays.
“Unfortunately, the restaurant won’t trade at this year’s Christmas Markets, but we will continue to work with all potential traders to support them being able to trade on the markets in future years, to ensure the offer is as inclusive as possible."
“The cheeky thing is,” Vaizman said, that “they said to me, ‘well we’ve got Jewish people and they manage to sort themselves out.’ But the Jews that are working on the Christmas market selling food, aren’t selling kosher food.”
“They just don’t get the prohibitions” that Judaism has, Vaizman noted.
“They won’t negotiate or let me sublet to an employee, and I can’t do it either. So, it’s going nowhere; it means that [observant] Jews will never, despite what they’re saying, be able to have a stand at the Christmas market.”