Christchurch, NZ - You bet, says Chabad’s Rabbi Mendy Goldstein of New Zealand. For Israeli backpackers who tromp the country’s pristine South Island each year, the new restaurant will be a boon.
“It pains us to see people eating non-kosher because they have no other choice,” said Sara Goldstein, co-director of the kiwi Chabad.
20,000 tour the regional capital of Canterbury annually, and New Zealand is home to some 10,000 Jews, so Chabad’s decision to open the first kosher restaurant there by the end of 2008, is important. Still in the architectural drawing stages, the eatery on the first floor of the Chabad center’s rented building in the city’s center will be the first kosher food available to locals. Currently, the only nod to kosher food in the area exists within the pages of the “Kosher Kiwi Directory,” a list of kosher grocery items.
Rabbi Goldstein, the center’s other co-director, views the restaurant as a first step in building a future for New Zealand where “Jewish living is convenient and enjoyable” for travelers and especially for its general Jewish population.
Since their arrival from Brooklyn, NY, a year ago, the Goldsteins, based in Wellington, have been steadily working toward their goal, with partial funding by the Rohr Family Foundation.
Jewish education is another priority that the Goldsteins have marked “urgent” in their business plan. Mrs. Goldstein’s preschool attracts 20 to 30 moms and their tots each week. Rabbi Goldstein has prepared several preteens for their bar and bat mitzvahs.