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Tietz celebrates opening of fully kosher kitchen

Margaret Tietz Executive Director Joseph Seminaro (l.) cuts the ribbon surrounded by Queens politicians and others in the nursing home's community at the kosher kitchen grand opening. Photo by Karen Frantz
TimesLedger Newspapers

The cafeteria at Margaret Tietz’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was packed with hungry people late last month as staff members, elected officials, rabbis and other community revelers gathered for the grand opening of the facility’s now completely kosher kitchen.

“Allowing Jewish families to continue their dietary traditions and keep kosher is a way to help people continue to stay comfortable and will provide families a benefit for years to come,” state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) said at the opening ceremony at the facility, at 164-11 Chapin Pkwy. in Jamaica Hills.

After the Oct. 25 ribbon-cutting ceremony, attendees stood in line to get a sample of the kosher fare and listened to live music.

The kitchen, which used to be divided into a kosher section and a non-kosher section, was completely converted to kosher Aug. 27. The conversion was the last step in a years-long mission to make the entire facility fully kosher in order to make Jewish residents feel more comfortable.

“An essential part of attracting and providing for the needs of our Jewish and religious residents is the kosher food,” said Marvin Factor, chairman of Margaret Tietz’s board.

The facility originally started to accommodate Holocaust survivors but is now open to residents of all faiths.

Zavel Pearlman, Tietz’s on-site rabbi, said just because the kitchen is kosher did not mean non-Jewish residents would miss out.

“We wanted to make sure that although we were out to help the Jewish population, the rest of our population should not suffer in any way,” he said.

He said the facility’s executive chef, Yossi Mizrhai, helped make the transition from partially kosher to fully kosher smooth and enhanced the quality of the dining experience.

CEO Michael Fassler agreed, saying it took a while to find Mizrhai, who he said is able to make excellent, restaurant-quality food that most people would not even realize was kosher.

In fact, most non-kosher foods, such as shellfish, would not be served in a cafeteria such as Tietz’s because they are too expensive. Another main requirement for a dish to be kosher — that meat and dairy be prepared in two separate work areas with no cross-contamination — also does not severely limit the types of dishes that can be served.

Elected officials who attended the grand opening included Assembly members Grace Meng (D-Flushing), David Weprin (D-Little Neck) and Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone). Many said they had relatives of their own who were residents at Margaret Tietz.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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