Good beer. It’s been bringing people together for generations. Local products Goldstar and Maccabi are favorites at Israeli gatherings and joyous occasions, but the products of smaller breweries are increasingly finding their way onto Israeli tables.
For nearly a decade, Jeremy Welfeld has drawn Israelis to his tables. As co-owner of Jems Beer Factory, he brings religious and secular Jews to his distinctive American-style microbrewery, full-service bar and restaurant in Petach Tikvah.
In the early 1990s, Jeremy noticed that microbreweries were taking off in America. When he made aliyah for the second time in 1999, he brought along his life-long dream of owning a brewery. Jeremy saw microbreweries as “the next trend, and the perfect catalyst to interact with as many Israelis as possible.”
However, Jeremy wants the Beer Factory to be more than just a restaurant. “The vision for Jems Beer Factory is that it’s a place where all of Israel can come together,” he says. “It’s kosher. It’s closed on Shabbat. The whole concept is about being inclusive. One of the reasons we’re in Petach Tikvah is that it is so central in the country, and maybe we can’t get all of Israel at one table, but we can try to get them all under one roof.”
The live music, positive atmosphere, and high energy of Jems Beer Factory keep it packed every evening, and the beer’s success attests to the brewery’s popularity. Jems sells over 300 liters per night. That is a lot of beer.
So what makes Jems so unique from the rest of Israel’s thriving bar and club scene? Other establishments don’t appeal to the religious sect of society, catering to a more secular crowd instead. Jeremy says he pursued a dream of appealing to both the religious and secular with a “club and restaurant concept that gives religious people… a place to go out with their wife and intermingle and mix with a lot of secular Israelis they’d never interact with.”
As hosts Go’el and Dovid note, it is the effort of people like Jeremy and his drive for unity “that make Israel so special.” Jeremy has been working at perfecting his beer and creating a successful restaurant for a decade. Now, all of Israel can share and enjoy the fruits of his labor.