Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Rosh HaShana Surprise

The Rosh HaShana tradition of giving sweet gifts took a sweet turn this year.

I was sitting at one of the cafes I often frequent, sipping my coffee, when someone set before me an exquisite plate of a honeyed sweet potato slice covered with glistening rimon (pomegranate) seeds, all swimming in some delectable sauce.

Delighted, I asked who/what/why was it coming to me. The server waved towards the kitchen, where Kareem, the main chef was waving and smiling - a Rosh HaShana gift to me.

Kareem is an Arab Muslim, and a wonderful chef, who has become my friend over the months I have been coming to the cafe. The fact that he, a Muslim, was sending me a Jew, a Rosh haShana gift brought tears to my eyes, even as I waved back with a thumbs up toda rabah.

What made it even more remarkable to me is that this man observes Ramadan, fasting during the day, all the while preparing food and surrounded by the sight and smells of his cooking. That must take nerves of steel and a strong faith to do such a thing.

So, if you've ever wondered if co-existence is possible and if anyone truly gets along in this neck of the woods, think of Kareem and his Rosh haShana blessing.

L'Shana Tova


  1. Perhaps the Arab chief sent you a gift just because you're a customer?

  2. I assume the "chief" was a typo and is supposed to be "chef" but yes, of course, this chef sent me the gift because i was a customer. In this restaurant the relationship between the customer & staff including the cooks and chefs is very warm. Patron often stop in the kitchen to compliment on the food or the presentation or just chat. And the chefs are sometimes at the bar greeting customers as well. Every one of the kitchen staff greets me when i come in, we smile and exchange greetings and talk. That's exactly my point.... individual positive interaction and friendship between us IS possible. It was something he didn't have to do, it was a lovely gesture, a kind act, and i wanted to honor him.

  3. i wanted to update this posting...i continue to receive gifts of food from time to time from Kareem and the entire kitchen crew...the latest was a small plate of cookies that were part of the celebration of the muslim Hajj(holiday. Kareem brought (or made at the cafe)these delicious cookies and shared them with the staff - AND lucky me!! thanks Kareem!