Why it’s so hard to find Jewish food in LA’s Jewish community
In an era of gentrification, Los Angeles has struggled to find kosher restaurants and Jewish-owned shops, a situation that’s intensified after the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown.
In recent months, a handful of small Jewish businesses have started popping up around the city, including the Keren Kohny, a kosher grocery store in East L.A. and a small kosher deli in Westwood.
But as the city continues to grapple with gentrification and the influx of foreign Muslims and Arab immigrants, kosher businesses are struggling to find customers, said Nathan Zalman, who runs the website Rabbiless LA.
“We’re in a really tight spot right now,” Zalmans said.
“It’s like we’re living in the ’90s, we’re still living in a very hostile environment to Jews.”
The LA Times reported in June that the number of people who are openly Jewish in Los Angeles had increased by roughly 20 percent in the past two decades, and that the Jewish population in the city was projected to grow by as much as 10 percent.
While the kosher market is small, Zalmann says there are many people who choose to patronize it, even though it is a small business.
“There’s always the fear that it’s not kosher, that it doesn’t serve the Jewish community,” Zolman said.
Zalmen says he’s seen a significant increase in the number and diversity of Jewish-run businesses in Los Feliz, the city’s largest borough, since Trump’s election.
The majority of Jewish businesses in the borough have moved into buildings owned by the Jewish Federations of North America, he said.
However, Zolmans says there have been a few places that have been struggling to attract kosher customers.
One of the most recent was The Keren, a Jewish deli on L Street that was closed in September after its owner was arrested on charges of shoplifting.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, he was arrested after he allegedly entered a Keren restaurant with an empty bottle of wine.
The restaurant’s owners, who also own a nearby convenience store, were charged with shoplifting, but were released after posting bail and appearing in court.
Zolmen said the Kermany’s closure is a significant example of the difficulties the Jewish-majority community faces.
“I feel very fortunate that there are Jews who do own kosher businesses in LA,” Zilman said, noting that he has also seen a decrease in the kosher-only grocery store he runs.
“But I think there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Keren’s owner, Ron Haddad, said he has received hundreds of hate mail messages since the store’s closure.
He said he’s spoken with several Jewish organizations about the issue, but said he isn’t seeing a huge increase in business, or a decrease of hate messages.
“People are really scared,” Haddan said.
When he went to Keren for their daily kosher breakfast, Haddas son came in to the bathroom to ask for some change.
“He told me, ‘It’s a small shop.
I can’t get any of that in my car,'” Hadda said.
The day before his son left for work, Hadas son was in jail, accused of theft and assault.
Haddal said he plans to open a kosher delis and grocery stores in the future, and hopes that people will come back to the place.
“This is my dream,” Hadan said of Keren.
“Hopefully we’ll get some money to build another place.”