When shoppers in New York, London or Paris come across kosher food in their neighbourhood supermarkets, it’s just one speciality product among many. When the same thing happens in Berlin, it’s a statement.
Berlin’s Jewish community, decimated by the Holocaust, has been steadily growing since Germany reunited in 1990. Thousands of Jews have moved in, synagogues, schools and shops have opened and some young rabbis have been trained and ordained. But presence isn’t the same as acceptance. In a city weighed down by memories of its Nazi past, even small signs that Jews are a part of normal daily life again take on deeper meaning.
One such sign appeared last month when a local supermarket began selling kosher food. Stocked on shelves and in freezers next to other German and imported goods, the food prepared according to ancient Jewish dietary laws is presented like any other product.
Yehuda Teichtal, a Brooklyn-born Hasidic rabbi who advised the Nah und Gut (“Near and Good”) supermarket on its selections, is thrilled to see this in Berlin. “This was the centre of darkness and evil, where the Nazis planned the extermination of Europe’s Jews, and now you can go into a normal supermarket and there’s a sign that says kosher,” he said.