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Feb 15, 2004 03:01 PM

Is 2nd Ave Deli (NYC) Kosher?

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Is 2nd Ave Deli (NYC)Kosher?

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  1. It is under a conservative hashgacha/mashgiach

    1 Reply
    1. re: HG

      Check out the eye-opening series of articles written by kosher food honcho Gil Marks about Glatt Kosher Meat.

      You can find them by logging onto Kosher Today and look in their archives section under "Gil Marks" or "Glatt" or both.
      Or do a Google search under it.
      It's a three part article.

      amy t.

    2. Yes, it is certified kosher.

      However, the meat is kosher, not glatt kosher, therefore some Orthodox Jews would not find it acceptable.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Rob

        For the record, the VAST majority of Orthodox Jews will not eat meat which is not Glatt. Every Orthodox person I know, from ultra-modern-Orthodox-Lincoln-Square-Upper-West-Side and further right insists on Glatt and will not eat non-Glatt meat. I am getting upset with this dis-information that suggests that only a minority of ultra-orthodox right wingers demand Glatt.

        Furthermore, they will not accept the standards of kashrus adhered to at the 2nd Ave Deli or by the certifying agency.

        1. re: hanistor

          I know many Orthodox Jews that will eat non-Glatt, I know many that won't. What exactly is your point?

          1. re: hanistor
            Sharon Lebewohl

            Hanistor, it is wrong to write that Orthodox Jews will not accept the standards of Kashrus adhered to at the 2nd Ave Deli. This is false and complete Lashone Hara. I am the owner of the restaurant so I know first hand how wrong you are.
            Yes, there are many Frum Jews who won't eat in our restaurant. We are open on Shabbat and not all of our meat is Glatt. But there are also many Frum people who do eat our food. My father z'l started the restaurant 50 years ago and he was the most honest person I've ever met. He had very high standards and we continue to uphold those standards. If you choose to not eat in the deli, I respect you for it. But do not insinuate that we have anything other than the highest standards.

            1. re: Sharon Lebewohl


              Excellent response. I agree with you 100% especially since I was a customer at your restaurant, knew your Dad and even used the same accountant at some of my places.

              If you've read my 2 previous posts on this thread I've wondered whats happened to the traditional trust and understanding that made the Jewish community succeed.

              I've been involved with Deli since my Uncle Levy who built and operated Kosher Deli's at about every 10/12 blocks along Broadway until he had 15 stores that he sold with restrictive convents against opening another store within 10 blocks. They were either Zion or Hebrew National Stores that he packaged and opened.

              When my widowed Mother got married I received a gift from the Carnegie Deli of the Chicken Soup with Matzoth Balls for 150 guests and Max Asnas Stage Deli did the Buffet so all I had to provide was the Entrée and Cake.

              When your store opened products were Kosher, I'm pretty sure that there wasn't any Glatt Deli Meat's at the time. Some places often operated on Fridays and Saturdays with a official Shabbos Goy, but I always have questioned this policy.

              I have enjoyed many meals at you place together with Orthodox friends including Rabbi's who trusted and are comfortable eating the items they enjoyed.


              1. re: Sharon Lebewohl


                I stand by my post original post. I never wrote that ALL "Orthodox Jews will not accept the standards of Kashrus adhered to at the 2nd Ave Deli". I stated that the "VAST majority" will not. This is correct. To imply otherwise is naive, at best, and downright dishonest, otherwise.

                Furthermore, I never met your father, nor did I question HIS honesty. I have no reason to disbelieve that he had very high standards when it came to personal and business ethics. But these are not the standards that people are primarily concerned with when they choose which restauants to dine in from a Kashrus standpoint. They are concerned with the adherance to the Halachos of Kashrus. If a store is operated on the Sabbath and by people who do not even honor one of the Ten Commandments ("Guard/Watch the Sabbath and keep it Holy"), how can the consumer public be confident that the laws of Kashrus are respected?

                Finally, due to your distant observation of Orthodox Judaism and Halacha, you cannot be faulted for not knowing that Lashon Hara is, by definition, true and not false (Freudian slip?). Also, information is not considered slanderous if it is employed to keep others from transgressing. You, on the other hand, are only interested in maintaining and increasing your bottom line and therefore your views cannot be considered objective.

                1. re: Hanistor

                  Right. If one doesn't follow one law, then they're obviously unable to be trusted to follow any. Also, since she owns the business, she's unable to defend the integrity of how they follow kashrut, lest she be accused of trying to maintain and increase her bottom line?

                  Insulting, offensive and illogical response to Ms. Lebewohl.

                  1. re: Hanistor

                    Dear Hannistor ...

                    If you don't mind my chiming in...when a post gets this personal and attacking it might be better to deal with it in a mensch-like way and lay aside one's inclination to publicly "win the fight" and consider dealing with this privately. In this case, I believe Ms. Lebewohl provides her e-mail address with each post. Though indeed Hashem does require us to prevent potential "stumbling blocks" from others, we must still be careful with the tone, content and sensitivity given to whom we are speaking to. In certain cases, things we say may prove to be especially embarassing to the reciever and as you know, the Torah also likens embarassment to killing! In regard to this, words that embarass another may very well result in having the recipient instantly qualify (after 120 years) for a "slam dunk" into a front row center spot in Olam Haba. In which case, that person would certainly owe you a big THANK YOU.

                    Shabbat Shalom & good things for you ALWAYS,
                    amy t.

                    1. re: Hanistor

                      You call yourself a Jew, yet you have no respect for your fellow Jew.

                      If you do not want to eat at 2nd Avenue Deli, that is your choice. But, do not attack the current owner or her father for the standards of kashrut they uphold. The Second Avenue Deli has been around for longer than most of us on this board. It has stayed kosher even as the trend in Delis moves away from kashrut. And, it is family run.

                      You have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the family nor of the Second Avenue Deli. If it's open on the Sabbath and that bothers you then don't eat there. No one is asking you to. But, to imply that b/c they do such they cannot be trusted is disgusting.

                      Perhaps you have heard of the phrase Chilul Hashem and perhaps you know that it applies not only to disgracing gods name to non-Jews, but to other Jews as well. By showing your arrogance and disgust you commit a Chilul Hashem in front of the entire Chowhound community.

                      You should be ashamed.

                      1. re: Rob

                        This person is quoting Jewish LAW to you. It is not an opinion. The first Halacha in Yoreh Deah discusses the Jew who is not Shomer Shabbat and concludes that - if you do not keep the Sabbath you cannot be trusted to keep Kosher.

                    2. re: Sharon Lebewohl
                      Steven Goldstein

                      Sharon Lebewohl, may your dad rest in peace and thank you for all you do for the two communities in which you and I are a part. You are a gem.

                2. Once upon a time, NYC had delis like 2nd Av (kosher but not glatt, open on Saturday but closed on the high holidays and passover) in every Jewish neighborhood. People a generation older than me (I'm 46) tell me that in such neighborhoods, the corner deli was about as ubiquitous as the corner pizzeria is today. In Boro Park, where I grew up, there were 3 or 4 such delis on 13th Av, the main shopping street, even in my time.

                  Since then, the market for such places has diminished. The Orthodox increased in number and moved to the right and for most of them, only glatt shomer-shabbat with reliable hashgacha would do. (Adelman's of 13th Av moved to Kings Highway, where it still is; the others I grew up with folded). For the non-observant, kosher wasn't the issue, and as a result, most of the best known delis in Manhattan (i.e., Katz's, Stage, Carnegie) aren't kosher at all.

                  Of course, there are still some Jews adhering to a middle ground, for whom not-glatt kosher served in a not-shomer-shabbat establishment is still acceptable. Such people patronize 2nd Av, the various branches of Ben's and the smattering of similar places that still exist, mostly in suburbia. You will still see men wearing yarmulkas in 2nd Avenue, although clearly most of its patrons are indifferent to the kashruth.

                  For those willing to eat in the 2nd Av deli, there is much to recommend it. I think their matzoh balls are the best anywhere and I love their rare roast beef. They tout their chopped liver a lot, but I'm not a chopped-liver kinda guy, so I can't say. And their "classic fare" (pastrami, cb, franks and sides) are all good too.

                  As we all know all too well, the "inelasticity of demand" in kosher society has tended to encourage mediocrity. In the rest of the world, the competition for your dining $ can be fierce, but because kosher consumers often have nowhere else to go, they must endure lower quality, higher prices and (especially) lousier service than the non-kosher public.

                  This is old news and to be honest, the situation has improved in greater NYC over the last 20 years. But as I write this, I'm starting to theorize that because demand is even more inelastic in the glatt-only community, the situation remains worse there.

                  Or to put it another way, is there a glatt deli anywhere that comes close to 2nd Av in terms of overall quality? Essex on Coney, near where I live now, is so inferior in so many ways, yet in glatt Brooklyn it remains the only game in town. It's one of those places where, every time I go there (not too often) they remind me of why I dislike the place so much and don't go there more often (try getting rare roast beef there).

                  Sorry for the long stream of consciousness here, but I got carried away.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Uncle Moishy

                    Glatt kosher places are almost always inferior to kosher places. Glatt kosher caters to Orthodox Jews. There is no alternative to Glatt kosher, therefore, Glatt places monopolize the Orthodox market.

                    Non-glatt kosher places appeal mainly to conservatives (many who eat non-kosher meat) and to non-Jews (who also eat non-kosher meat). Orthodox ppl who will eat non-Glatt would usually prefer Glatt is available. Therefore, it must be kept to higher quality than Glatt kosher.

                    There are many good non-Glatt kosher delis.

                    Second Ave.
                    Ben's Best (in Queens)
                    Lido Beach Kosher (on LI)
                    Mill Basin

                    1. re: Rob

                      Uncle Moshe and Rob:

                      Your post's bring me back not that many years ago before everything had Rabbi's and Hechshers or approved Kasheruth.

                      There were Appetizing Stores, Dairy Grocers, Bagel Bakers, Bakeries and many Deli's, Restaurants, Butchers, Poultry Shops plus all the Kosher Resorts in the Catskills and the great majority of Kosher Caterers and Temples that all operated for many years with out Supervision except from those who wanted to be personally sure that the food was in fact Kosher and were most often satisfied.

                      Then it seems that starting in the seventies it suddenly started to become important to require professional supervision over ever aspect of Jewish Cuisine to satisfy the general public, in fact this was the start of Kasheruth becoming big business to many communities leading to exorbitant fee's and evolving into the loss of many neighborhood business that couldn't afford the additional overhead.

                      I feel this is what has led to the loss of the majority of Appetizing Stores and smaller Deli's, Bakeries and Butchers that used to be everywhere in the New York area and Suburbs including partially the demise of the Catskills.

                      I'm curious if anyone else shares my opinions as I sure miss all those wonderful places that were so much a part of my New York.


                      1. re: Irwin Koval

                        The whole kosher business has become just that-- a business. The rising influence of larger Orthodox sects has pushed the various certifying agencies and rabbis to become more and more strict.

                        Glatt kosher is a recent phenomenon. In the 70's, Glatt and non-Glatt meat was certified by the OU. But Glatt has killed the corner butchers. Kosher meat is already expensive enough. But now, we must pay even more to ensure that a cow's lung had two irregular marks instead of three.

                        What Glatt has done is segment the market. Go into a Glatt kosher restaurant and you will rarely see a non-Jew eating there. It's become strictly a haven for the religious. Non-Glatt restaurants have remained mainstream. Walk into a Ben's or a Second Avenue Deli. Most ppl do not keep kosher, many aren't even Jewish, but appreciate a good matzo ball soup or corned beef sandwich.

                        Another effect it has had is to make it more difficult for other Jews with keen culinary tastes to keep kosher. The Second Avenue Deli is an amazing place, but a dying breed. Walk into a Dougie's and try their food. Sometimes it's okay. Most times, it is downright poor.

                        1. re: Rob


                          The one thing I definitely disagree with is that the greater proliferation of "Rabbi's" hasn't increased the application of Kasheruth by being stricter all it's added is confusion, incompetence and laxity in the traditional expectations of the customers.

                          The majority of so called Kosher professionals are well meaning but lack training, comprehension or real expertise regarding the subjects that there are expected to supervise. Being religious or observant doesn't make one a authority about Kasheruth.

                          In many ways especially thru observations thru the years I truly miss the periods when it was up to the individual to maintain what was expected to be Kosher based upon their reputation and standing in the community especially since every Jewish person has the right to expect this respect.

                          I have thru wearing my various hats as a consultant, importer/exporter or customer been exposed to what purports to be Kasheruth all over the world and in my opinion no place was equal to or even close to the standards maintained by the traditional New York Jewish Orthodox Community.

                          Actually the most observant Kosher Kitchens operated thru the years had non-ethnic Chefs and personnel whom were trained to be extremely carefully to observe Kasheruth at all times and allowed no exceptions. This was due to the religious respect given to management by the employees efforts to observe and respect the traditions. A good example was at the "Park Inn" one of the first Glatt Kosher Hotel/Caterers located in the Rockaways where the Chefs were Chinese. All the Kashering and Butchering was done by a Rabbi/Butcher who was very careful the maintain the standards required.

                          The first operation where we operated both a Kosher and Non-Kosher Kitchen was the "Huntington Town House" where there was a residential Mishguiah who had the only keys to the completely separated Kosher Kitchen, Dishwashing, Bakery, China, Silverware and anything else including staff uniforms, handwashing, gloves and everything else required to maintain Kosher standards plus all Kosher deliveries were received by the Mishguiah or his assistant. The only other places that required a Mishguiah were when Kosher Caterers operated in Hotels and this required Kashering the Stoves and Kitchen Equipment under a Rabbi's supervision as well as overseeing the total service.

                          Aside from these types of business I only came across Rabbinical Supervision at Business that operated Interstate or were large enough or specialized enough to require this supervision thru volume or wider markets.

                          Now this doesn't seem to be the case as almost anyplace requires professional supervision just to stay in business. It seems we as customers have been conditioned to rely on questionable competence for our being satisfied regarding Kasheruth, most often being provided by a student or a well meaning friend of the purported expert supervisor.

                          This is only what I personally have observed thru the years, being objective and respectful. I don't pretend to be observant myself even though I am Jewish. When given the responsibility of being required to maintain Kasheruth I respect the laws 100%. I wish others would do the same.


                          1. re: Irwin Koval


                            1. re: JON

                              They have no supervision. They are open on Shabbat. If you pride yurself on keeping kosher - do not eat there.

                        2. re: Irwin Koval

                          I think the "certify or die" factor you describe is real, but probably not the only reason. Health consciousness is probably a factor for delis (too much fat, too much nitrates, and who knows what a frank is made from anyway?). And small stores are losing out to bigger stores in every retail category, not just food, all over the country (the Wal-Mart phenomenon).

                          An example: The Ben's non-glatt open-on-Saturday deli in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center in Bayside looks to be doing very nice business still (Bayside being a high percent Jewish but not all that frum), but the appetizing store (Bell Appetizers, I think it was) in the same shopping center closed down 5-10 yrs ago, probably because the Waldbaum's next door upgraded its appetizing dept (and maybe the bagel store across the way did too). So it wasn't a certification issue that killed the appetizing store, just changing times.

                          1. re: Irwin Koval

                            I just returned from a golf weekend @ the Concord. It was very sad to see the once proud Concord and Grossingers as well as the surrounding bussinesses appearing as if old ghost towns from the midwest.
                            We were twenty men, not a jew amongst us, and our memories of these hotels and area were not so strong. We debated about the area's demise and I did some research tues. and wed.. Your theory is interesting and I believe valid.
                            Thanks for putting another slant on the topic.


                            1. re: Irwin Koval

                              Re 2nd avenue deli and "how kosher they are" -- not whether they are kosher... after all, if you accept a place without a certification, then you are really asking a more complex question, specifically you want to know just which rules they might observe or not observe, how carefully they observe them on their own, etc.

                              Point #1: Go to the "Second Avenue Deli Cookbook" publshed a couple of years ago. Check out the very first recipe for chopped liver, and you will note the recipe is treif -- see how they cook the chicken liver and it describes a treif way to cook them.

                              Point #2: If you ask the staff of the Second Avenue Deli, as I have done, they will tell you that the cookbook was written by one of the family members who is not running the deli, and the deli is not responsible for any errors in the book.

                              Point #3: If you ask the staff of the Second Avenue Deli if they have a mashgiach, as I did about 2 years ago, they will give you the name of a Rabbi somewhere in New York (I forget where) who watches their kashrut. I tried to contact the Rabbi, including mail sent to his address, yet never got a reply.

                              So, that's more info about 2nd ave deli.

                        3. If you feel that you are well-versed in kashrus and can determine whether or not their standards meet yours, then call the deli and inquire. Or, if there is a Rabbi or Rebbitzen that you get advice his/her opinion.

                          Hugs & kisses,
                          amy t.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: amy t.

                            what is an LK Alert?

                            1. re: crimelon

                              Lokshon Kugel! (aka Loshon Hora)

                              1. re: amy t.

                                oh..maybe you should actually give the proper abbreviation so people know.

                                Thanks for clearing that up.