‘Kosher’ restaurants in San Francisco, California open their doors to Muslim customers
KATHY LINDEN: San Francisco restaurants are starting to open their cafeterias to Muslim diners.
A couple of years ago, when a handful of Jewish customers were coming in, the owner of one of the Jewish-owned restaurants, Rabbi Michael Zalman, called the police on them for not allowing Muslims in.
“They were saying they were from Israel, but we didn’t allow them in,” Zalmann said.
“So I had to change the policy and I did.”
Then, last month, the owners of a couple of other kosher restaurants, The Jewish Kitchen and the Jewish Diner, said they were also changing their policy, and now all kosher diners will be allowed in.
Zalman says the change will allow Muslims to eat there.
“If they want to go there, that’s OK,” he said.
And it’s an improvement from the halal restaurants, which have closed.
“We are trying to open up a little bit of a kosher environment in the city,” Zilman said.
He said the restaurants have a new menu, which is made up of more vegetables, meat, fruits and sauces.
But that will require them to sell to a licensed kosher restaurant.
“If they’re really kosher, they can buy the meat and eat the meat, but if not, they have to have a license from the kosher kitchen,” he explained.
Zalmans family has owned and operated Jewish restaurants for nearly 100 years.
Zalmans grandfather was an entrepreneur, so he and his family went to culinary school.
“Our first restaurant was the Jewish Kitchen,” Zali said.
It was open in 1946 and Zalmen’s grandfather opened the restaurant and it stayed open until his death.
“He made a lot of money on his family business,” Zalamins grandfather, Michael Zilmans, said.
Michael Zalmens grandfather started a kosher restaurant in San Jose, California in 1952, and opened his own one there in 1956.
“It was the first kosher restaurant that was open for the Jewish community,” he recalled.
“When I was young, I used to go to the synagogue every Saturday and go to eat with my parents.
My father would come in and we’d have a meal together and go out to the bar.
We were so close to our Jewish community.”
The Zalmsens still visit the synagogue daily and still have an annual dinner.
“There are so many Jewish and Jewish-Jewish-Jewish families that we’re able to have that,” Zlmans said.
“I think it’s really good for the community,” Zammen said.
His daughter, Tanya Zamman, is a senior rabbi in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“We’ve had the same restaurant for years,” she said.
They open a new restaurant each year, she said, and it’s open to the public.
Zammen’s restaurant, Zalmas, has a full menu and also offers a Jewish lunchtime menu.
And, Zalammen said, the restaurant has never had a problem with the Islamic community.
“I have never had any problems,” he told Newsweek.
“The people from the Islamic world don’t come to our restaurant.
We’re not trying to be a target, but they are coming here and they don’t like us.”
Zalamins father, Michael, who is also a senior rabbinical leader in the Bay Area, said the restaurant is a sanctuary for the people from all faiths in the community.
He also said the Jewish restaurant, where the majority of diners are Muslims, serves a good dinner menu.
“That’s the way it should be,” he agreed.
“The people coming to the restaurant are our guests,” Zlammans father said.
The Jewish restaurants are opening to the general public, and Zlammen hopes the Jewish customers will be welcome there as well.
“You want to serve the Jewish people?
I would say, if they want a Jewish meal, go to one of our other restaurants,” he added.
Zalammen, whose restaurant has been open since it opened in 1954, said he thinks the policy change is a good one.
He also said he hopes that all Muslims in San Franciscans restaurants will take advantage of it.
“We will be open to all Muslims,” he assured Newsweek.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a few Jewish restaurants in the City have been doing the same thing.