Long Island Losing Kosher Delis

(Photo by Stewart Ain via The Jewish Week)

(Photo by Stewart Ain via The Jewish Week)

The neighborhood kosher deli, long a fixture on Long Island, is gradually disappearing, reports Stewart Ain of Jewish Week.

In the past year alone, five kosher delis have closed in Nassau and Suffolk, two of them with histories stretching back more than a half-century. Several others, with their proprietors’ eyes peeled on the bottom line, have converted, so to speak, from kosher to non-kosher.

Changing demographics and eating habits appear to be behind the demise of the delis. With fewer traditional customers, not all the delis have been able to survive.

“There are fewer Jews [in Suffolk] and fewer who are keeping kosher in this part of the world,” said Rabbi Jonathan Waxman, spiritual leader of the Conservative Temple Beth Sholom in Smithtown, L.I.

Pat Ruggiero, the owner of Zan’s, agreed: “There is no growth in the Suffolk Jewish community, and there are fewer practicing Jews here who keep kosher. There are many who are just Jewish by descent, and there is a lot of intermarriage.”

Still, some of the delis have survived, often appealing to a diverse customer base. Among the customers of Pastrami N Friends, a kosher deli in Commack, are African Americans, Chinese Americans, Italian Americans and Irish Americans.

As he made change behind the counter, Ronny Roman, an owner of Pastrami N Friends, quipped, “We truly are a United Nations of customers.”

Jewish Week noted that Long Island is not alone in losing Kosher eating establishments; the last full-service kosher restaurant on the Lower East Side closed recently. To read more about the closings on Long Island, and the conversion of some delis from kosher to non-kosher, go to the original article.

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