The Jew And The Carrot

UK's Lone Kosher Pub Loses Certification

By Sarah Kessler

  • Print
  • Share Share
Thinkstock

“It’s not actually a Jewish pub,” explained Robert Greene, business partner at The Castle in North London, which has a dance floor, garden patio, real ale menu and a halachic twist: it’s the only kosher pub in the country.

“We’re providing a service that everyone can enjoy, the food just happens to be kosher — I mean — it is still kosher but it just hasn’t got a certificate at the moment,” he added.

So it was the only kosher pub in the country, licensed by the Federation of Synagogues Kashrus between Hanukkah of last year and last week.

Greene sounded weary on the phone, and forgivably so: the accountant turned publican has spent the last week negotiating the politics of kashrut authorities and fielding calls from the Jewish press.

The Castle’s kosher cheeseburger might not have made headlines while it was under certification (glatt kosher meat from the Licensed Kosher Meat Traders’ Association topped with pareve cheese). But, since the Federation revoked its license following an event at The Castel catered by a caterer with kosher certification from different authority, it is all of a sudden, to Greene’s bemusement, international news.

Readers of Vos Iz Neias, the American Orthodox blog, had questions: Was there a violation of approved ingredients? A political clash? Does it all come back to the money? And do we even need a kosher pub?

There’s no dearth of kosher restaurants in the UK, but a pub is something quite different: think a centuries old tradition of “Cheers” crossed with BBC America. You don’t have to go to a kosher pub to be able to drink kosher, and a kosher pub was always going to be an interesting balance to pull off.

“We are really a pub — first and foremost,” said Greene, who reckons that 30-40% of his clientele are non-Jews, who were regulars long before the place became kosher. That crowd kept drinking as management set up a special company in order to be licensed by the Federation from Saturday night to Friday afternoon, and stay open — with a closed kitchen — during Shabbat.

These arrangements don’t matter right now: the Federation, which says that warnings were issued in advance by phone and in writing, is adamant that the pub is no longer suitable for kosher certification with the present management.

“They had a caterer there who was not on our license” said Dayan M. D. Elzas, the Federation’s director of kashrut. “We were aware of the fact that certain things would not be up to our standard. We suggested how things could move ahead.”

The caterer in question is reported to be from Kedassia, the kashrut division of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations. A representative stated that there was no such place under their supervision, and they were not aware of The Castle.

Back at the Federation, Elzas admitted gently that when it comes to competition and cooperation between the kashrut authorities “there is both.”

As for Greene, he’d prefer not to discuss the “unfortunate circumstance” and get back to business: be it last week’s appearance by Shir, a group of four klezmer musicians playing a variety of Jewish music, or this Friday’s DJ Kuba, playing House Progressive Trance.

It’s not really “just a pub,” then, and Greene admits he’s sees it as a kind of Jewish community center too. The Castle has hosted events for a number of Jewish charities, and you can inquire about booking your bar mitzvah online.

‘”New Chef Shlomi,” as Greene calls him, has joined the crew and a new menu will be announced shortly.

“We’re hoping to be kosher again very soon,” said Greene.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: UK, Kosher Pub, The Castle

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.