World Cup: Qatar won't allow cooked Kosher food, public Jewish prayer

Jewish organizations claim that Qatar is breaking its promise on allowing any cooked Kosher food to be sold at FIFA World Cup.

 People walk past an illuminated soccer ball ahead of the FIFA 2022 World cup soccer tournament at Katara Cultural Village in Doha, Qatar November 15, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)
People walk past an illuminated soccer ball ahead of the FIFA 2022 World cup soccer tournament at Katara Cultural Village in Doha, Qatar November 15, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)

Jewish organizations have said that even though they were promised otherwise, Qatar won’t allow any cooked kosher food to be sold or offered to visitors of the FIFA World Cup.

Sources in Jewish organizations told The Jerusalem Post that Qatar broke another promise to allow Jewish prayer services in Doha during the games, claiming it couldn’t secure this type of activity and then banned it completely.

“We were promised to be allowed to create prayer spaces in order for religious Jews who came to see the games to have a place of worship,” a representative of a Jewish organization said. “We were recently told that they banned places of worship for Jews because they cannot secure them.”

According to other sources, there is an estimate of more than 10,000 religious Jews from Israel and around the world that are expected to arrive in Doha.

“They were promised to be able to cook kosher food including kosher meat, but at the moment have only been allowed to sell cold bagel sandwiches,” they said.

 Fifa World Cup 2022 branding is seen at Hamad International Airport. (credit: REUTERS/HAMAD I MOHAMMED) Fifa World Cup 2022 branding is seen at Hamad International Airport. (credit: REUTERS/HAMAD I MOHAMMED)

According to another source, a number of wealthy American Jews planned to come as a large group but canceled their arrangements since they said they wouldn’t feel secure and not have enough food to eat.

“There is no kosher food, there are no Shabbat meals and no public prayer services,” a source said. He added that the Qataris said “they would separate religion from sports, so how come the great Qatar doesn’t know how to secure Jewish worshipers?”

The Post reached out to Qatar’s Foreign Ministry for comment, but has not heard back.

Did Qatar break its promise?

Earlier Sunday, the Post was informed that kosher-keeping fans would be able to buy kosher sandwiches in Qatar. 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 tournament.

“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.

The kosher kitchen is under the supervision of Rabbi Mendy Chitrik of Istanbul, chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, and his son Rabbi Eliyahu Chitrik.

The food includes the baking of the first bagels in Qatar and other ethnically Jewish delicacies.

At the moment, Kosher in Qatar will sell challah for Shabbat, bagel sandwiches with spreads such as hummus, vegetables and smoked salmon.

Yet when asked if there will be hot food or meat, Chitrik said this will only be available if there will be a large group of Jews at the games.

He declined to comment on the claim that Qatar banned warm kosher food and public Jewish prayer.