Kosher in Jerusalem

by Sarah on August 31, 2012

Lara restaurant

The truth is there are many friends I can’t invite to dinner. No, nothing gossipy here. They simply observe Jewish dietary law and our family doesn’t. Although the food I buy is kosher, my kitchen is not. A strictly kosher home is not only about buying certified foods but encompasses all aspects of food preparation. Anything that comes into contact with the food is also subject to the same stringent guidelines.

The inability to eat together can create schisms in relationships, dividing along religious lines. It doesn’t have to be. Kosher restaurants are a perfect solution in these circumstances and a way for all sides to share a meal.

Lerner Restaurant , Jerusalem

Recently I was introduced to several kosher venues in Jerusalem as part of a tour organized by Marom Communications. It was day-long event that included three restaurants and a visit to Mahane Yehuda Market.

Our first stop was the cheerful Lerner Café with window sills decorated with geraniums and summer light spilling into the room.  Situated at the Lerner Sports Complex on Mount Scopus it specializes in healthy dairy foods. As soon as we arrived a breakfast spread was placed on the table- cheese and olive dips, finely diced vegetables doused with lemon juice and olive oil, smoky roasted eggplant with tehina and tomato shakshuka. These items have become the core of a typical Israeli breakfast with versions served throughout the country.

bread, lerner restaurant, Jerusalem

The shakshuka was all summer, with the fragrant smell of tomatoes simmered down to softness. The eggplant was roasted until silky smoothness, without the multitude of seeds or bitter edge.  The salads were piled high, the vegetables sliced cleanly and not bruised and blemished by a food processor. When food begins with the freshest ingredients it does not need to be masked with heavy sauces or extensive cooking.

shashuka, lerner restaurant, Jerusalem

The only problem- I had to share the meal with a roomful of gregarious fellow bloggers and journalists- all of them with their annoying habit of photographing every mouthful. It was great!

Café Lerner –kosher, dairy.
Chef Eran Ben Arosh
1 Churchill, Lerner Sports Center, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem.
Tel: 057-944-2254. Free parking.
Hours: Sun. 11am – 11pm, Mon. – Thurs. 7:30am – 11pm, Fri. 8am – 3:30pm
Read Israeli Kitchen’s review of the restaurant.

Lara restaurant, Jerusalem

Next stop-Lara Restaturant

With golden stone walls and crisp white linen, Lara Restaurant exudes an easy formality.  It has hosted a slew of dignitaries from around the world, including the Prime Minister and other government notables (this is just hearsay as I didn’t see anyone remotely famous).  Although the restaurant in located in the heart of Jerusalem, the food is international; ceviche with sun ripened figs, glazed duck in a luscious sauce, cherry tomato panzella, roasted eggplant scattered with pine nuts, all artfully plated to showcase their color and shape. The desserts were exceptionally decadent and hard to believe they were made without any dairy products, as stipulated by kashrut.

Lara Restaurant

Chef Lior Hafzadi

3 Shimon Ben Shetach, Jerusalem

02-5370701

Dairy free chocolate dessert, Lara Restaurant, Jerusalem

Disclosure: The truth is, I have become conservative with joining blogging events for the reasons I have written about previously. I also rarely do restaurant reviews because I seldom visit the same establishment twice. The way I look at it, managing a restaurant is a profession and it wouldn’t be fair to judge it by a single meal. However, at blogger events that is exactly what I do. That said, with observant friends and family I was curious to know more about the kosher food scene. Tal Marom, the CEO of the PR firm made sure the trip was not only about the food but the people and stories behind each establishment.

lara restaurant

Lara restaurant, Jerusalem

susanart organization, Jerusalem

Susanart:

Although this is not food related I would like to share my experience at SusanArt, a nonprofit organization which gives high risk youth hope for the future through art and work. The organization employs young people ages 15-20 who have endured difficult childhoods of neglect and violence, giving them dignity, self-respect and confidence to create a better life. All the items produced at Susanart are made by them. With the rise of expenses, they are struggling to keep the organization open. It is easy to help. Simply visit their studio in Jerusalem or order some of their beautiful handmade merchandise from the online store-www.susanart.org.il. It would be a wonderful holiday gift and a contribution to society.

Please join their facebook page for updates and read more about the group here.

Yad Haruzim 19 ,Talpiot, Jerusalem.

02-6725069

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa August 31, 2012 at 8:08 am

Goregous food and great organization!

Cheers,

Rosa

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Zack August 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Beautifull.

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Yael Morris August 31, 2012 at 1:59 pm

You’re a great photographer. My hands never look so pretty as in the picture you took… And you also write lovely, it was a great reminder to a perfect day, and I’m happy I met you.

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Mark Wiens August 31, 2012 at 7:40 pm

That crushed eggplant dish at the top looks beautiful! Great to know some Kosher restaurants to be able to connect and share a meal with everyone!

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Eha August 31, 2012 at 9:42 pm

What an interesting story to absorb. Thank you! I hope you will have a laugh at this: I was born Christian as was the father of my two daughters. The latter went to a well-known Dalton Scheme school [from kindy > high school] in Sydney. Nearly 60 % of classmates were Jewish. One of my daughters was born in September, the other October: the time of the Jewish High Holidays. Birthday parties were de rigeur. Well, before setting any party dates: for 16 years I first had a confab coffee morning with some of the Jewish moms to find dates their daughters could attend. Next I turned a part of my kitchen > Jewish kitchen of sorts with separate pots/pans/serving dishes and made very sure not to mix foods which were not allowed in a Jewish home. Of course I could not and did not manage a Kosher kitchen, but, as most of the wonderful mob that made up the classes did not come from overly orthodox homes, the little try to mix and meld was always appreciated and all the Christian, Muslim etc kids learned a quiet lesson. Actually lovely memories . . .

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Liz Rueven September 1, 2012 at 5:40 am

Although my home is kosher, it isn’t strict enough for some of my close friends. Thanks for the reminder that “eating out” can be a great solution in these situations. We opt for restaurants in NYC, where the kosher certification is comfortable for our friends and we have no trouble finding great eats. I love your tips about where to eat in Jerusalem. We are more familiar with the food scene in Haifa, but never miss the opportunity to visit Jerusalem when we are in Israel.Great post!

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Sina (@thekosherspoon) September 2, 2012 at 12:36 am

very well-written post. I was actually just in jerusalem a few weeks ago and loved restaurant hopping. Food definitely fosters relationship and thankfully there are happy solutions to navigate the different kosher “levels”.

Gabriella, which is right next to Lara was one of my favorite places.

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Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb September 2, 2012 at 6:34 am

Oh its nice to see what Jerusalem is like, especially when a local like you explains it so well. I have to admit, that I have no idea what kosher food is, people are throwing that term around but I never understood what food items were not considered kosher. Would love to try real kosher food and the best place for that would be Israel for sure, maybe even one of those inviting places you introduced us to. ;) Interesting project with the kids, by the way!

Wish u a lovely weekend!

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Sarah September 2, 2012 at 8:40 am

Helene, Thank you. This post doesn’t really do justice to Jerusalem. It’s only a small part of it. As for keeping kosher, that is a big topic. Wikipedia gives a good overview of the subject http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosher_foods . The Muslims have their own food observances called Hallal.

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annie o September 5, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Hello!
What is the name of the eggplant that you photographed and do you have a recipe?

Lovely pictures!

A

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Sarah September 6, 2012 at 9:52 am

Thanks! I think they are called Holland eggplants.

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