Village Green – Vegetarian Food

4 Kislev 5769
December 1, 2008

Jerusalem Restaurant – Village Green – Vegetarian Food
Located in Yerushalayim – 33 Jaffa Street – 02-625-3065
Open from 09:00 – 22:00 (Friday [winter] 09:00-14:00 & in summer until 15:00)
Under the supervision of Badatz Machzikei Hadas – Belz
www.village-green.co.il

I visited Village Green last week and was welcomed with open arms. As is my custom, I entered, identified myself as a reporter, and asked to speak with the manager or boss, not wishing to approach a mashgiach for media purposes without first clearing it with management. The management was happy to accommodate, and pointed to the stairs, instructing me to go down a flight and I would “see the rabbi”.

First of all, while I have entered the restaurant in the past, although I do not recall ever eating there [not a big veggie fan], but I never knew there was a downstairs. It was quite large and can easily accommodate a crowd.

Anyway, tucked away in a corner was a chassidishe looking man who was indeed the mashgiach, identifying himself as Rabbi Yossi Klein, a representative of the Belz Machzikei Hadas Badatz supervision. He is employed in Village Green for seven years.

One thing is for certain, when the rabbi told me that “we inspect all legumes, sorting through them with a focused light, not just a primary scan using sunlight or room light”, I knew he was serious. You see, when I approached him, reminding you my visit was unannounced, he was doing just that, scrutinizing a large tray of green split pea beans under a powerful spotlight.

He explained that due to the nature of the menu, there is an enormous amount of legumes and rice, and he and his colleagues inspect them all using the same method, as is the standard of the Belz hechsher (supervision).

The restaurants menu is dairy or parve, and the mashgichim are present during the kitchen’s operating hours, which are 07:15-15:00(ish). He explained that foods served after that time is not ‘cooked’ as defined by Jewish Law, and they are reheated. All cooking and baking is done while the rabbis are present, making certain to do their part in the process.

And now some of the basics – of course, all flour is sifted, greens washed one leaf at a time prior to use, and the rabbis not only light the gas for cooking, but make certain to move all pots onto and remove from the stovetops, and open and close the oven doors. Rav Yossi explained that the food produced in The Village Green is all ‘bishul yisrael’ for both Ashkenazim and Sephardim. All dairy products are ‘chalav yisrael’ mehadrin. All fruits and vegetables are of course shmitah l’chumra,

Regarding eggs, all are checked, one at a time, and the rabbis explained he is particularly careful since they use organic eggs, which he stated have a much higher percentage of blood spots for reasons we did not review. He added that while the inspection of legumes is stringent, now one must keep an extra careful eye since the products are from the summer and the insect infestation level is considerably higher.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that before you are seated in any eatery, check the kashrus certificate to make certain it appears legitimate, that the date is valid, and that it is the same one you expect. No, photocopies are not acceptable. Any kosher certifying agency will only authorize that it is represented in the form of an original certificate, nothing less. In Jerusalem, stores seem to frequently change supervising agencies and a report of mine for example from a number of weeks or months ago may no longer be applicable since the restaurant may have changed supervising agencies.

I also stress in this forum that I am not a rabbi or a kashrus expert, just someone seeking to accurately document what he sees and relay it to you, the kosher consumer. Comments and feedback appreciated. Please write to jerusalemkn@gmail.com.

It never hurts to say hi to the mashgiach and ask a few questions to reassure yourself that you are getting the kashrus level you expect and deserve.

Yechiel Spira for Jerusalem Kosher News – be so kind as to encourage others to join this free forum to spread the word and enable visitors to Israel to maintain their kosher standard and not G-d forbid unknowingly find themselves in one of the growing number of establishments boasting unauthorized kashrut agencies, which do not live up to the wording on their certificates.

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