Fighting anti-Semitism - with kishke and gefilte fish

Vast majority of visitors to Jewish Hoffy's Restaurant in Antwerp are non-Jews who taste 'Jewish food' and learn about people and customs.

Tags: Antwerp
Yoni Kempinski ,

The Hoffy's restaurant in Antwerp
The Hoffy's restaurant in Antwerp
Yoni Kempinski

Arutz Sheva visited Hoffy's Restaurant in Antwerp, Belgium, and spoke to owner and co-founder Ya'akov Hoffman about his burgeoning Jewish restaurant and his role in promoting understanding and countering hatred. Proudly displaying his cuisine, he explains: "Here we have Cornish hen stuffed with kishke; here are latkes. Here's fried chicken - that's on the bone. And there's stuffed cabbage.

"My brother and I set up this business in 1985. We began by making rounds at stores, synagogues, and the like and invited them to come eat characteristically Jewish, kosher food here."

Asked to define "Jewish food", Hoffman says "Jewish food - we don't make them any food that we ourselves don't eat; the same food we eat, they also get.

Hebrew interview:

"We're Hungarian Jews, and a lot of the food we eat is based on the Hungarian Jewish kitchen.

"Our customers today are made up of 85% non-Jews. That means from all the following places: Belgium, Holland, and Germany. It's organized as part of their tours, they get to see a typical Jew, how he lives, what he's allowed and what's forbidden to him, and they also come here and receive an explanation of what 'kosher' means. It makes for them the drempel - it's a word in Flemish that means 'threshold' - as if they're afraid to make that step, to come in. But if they hear the explanations, and are shown a Jew in the street, they understand things that until that moment nobody explained to them. They don't know, so they think something's kooky. But if they hear the reasons they understand 'this is normal, this is his life,' and that immediately lessens the anti-Semitism."

So you're fighting anti-Semitism by means of gefilte fish and kishke?

"You could say that."

Every year in the summer groups of Israelis arrive. "On some weekends we have 500 Israelis, for whom we organize tours here in Antwerp. Here we don't have all the politics; people talk to each other as equals with no difference what kippah he wears."




top