KOSHER KITCHEN MOVES TO INDIAN QUAD AMID CLOSURE OF DUTCH DINING HALL
Due to the upcoming closure of Dutch Quad dining in summer 2017, the Kosher Kitchen has moved to Indian Quad this fall.
The kosher program has been at the University at Albany for the past 40 years, according to Rabbi Moshe Bomzer, the supervising rabbi, the Rav HaMachshir, for the Vaad Hakashruth of the Capital District. His job as the supervising rabbi is to ensure that all the food preparation is “being performed in the best way and with the highest standard,” by overseeing a staff of inspectors, the mashgichim. Under his guidance, the Kosher Kitchen serves food that meets the Biblical laws of kashrut, which outline dietary restrictions. People keeping kosher follow these laws.
The switch in locations before Dutch’s closure is due to Dutch Quad “antiquated” dining hall, according to Steve Pearse, the executive director of the University Auxiliary Services.
Certain qualities of Indian Quad allow the Kosher Kitchen to meet the standards of kashrut law, such as the hood system which prevents the potential for cross contamination from any non-kosher food as the kosher food is being prepared. This is vital for food to remain kosher because of the strict laws of kashrut.
Another way the Kosher Kitchen is able to prevent contaminating the kosher food is by using disposable plates. To keep kosher, all utensils and equipment must remain separate from equipment used for non-kosher food. If the Kosher Kitchen used washable plates like the rest of Indian Quad dining, it would run the risk of contaminating plates with non-kosher elements, rendering the food served on those plates non-kosher.
Although he acknowledges this may not be the most environmentally effective decision, Pearse said using disposable plates was “the best way to ensure we didn’t have any cross contamination,” allowing people keeping kosher to be assured that their food meets the laws of kashrut.
Freshman Molly Bayewitz is a Jewish student who is on the kosher meal plan.
“I can’t have dairy, so the way they separate meat and dairy is really nice,” Bayewitz said.
She likes how the Kosher Kitchen has variety, but still allows her to keep kosher away from home and while eating with friends. Despite living on State Quad, which does not provide kosher food, Bayewitz does not mind the walk to Indian Quad because it is directly across campus.
One thing to note about the kosher meal plan is that it is $100 more than the regular meal plan. Pearse provided two options for paying this extra cost, students can either add $100 to the total cost of their meal plan and keep the allotted Munch Money or they can pay the cost of a regular meal plan and subtract $100 from their Munch Money.
However, students do not have to be on the kosher meal plan to eat a kosher meal. Students can pay $3.50 upon entering Indian Quad dining and there are also kosher products in retail, such as at Jazzman’s and the 518 Market.
There are approximately 3,500 undergraduate Jewish students at UAlbany, according to UAlbany Hillel.
Bomzer, in addition to his involvement with the Kosher Kitchen, works with Hillel, Chabad, AISH, and all the Jewish student groups, “to promote Jewish life on SUNYA’s campus.”
Out of the 3,500 Jewish students at UAlbany, there are roughly 70 signed up for the kosher meal plan, according to Pearse.
With the goal of opening up the Kosher Kitchen to more students, Bomzer said, “We will continue to do all we can to promote the program and we cannot thank the SODEXO Corp and UAS for providing this extraordinary resource for our Jewish students, all students, our faculty and community.”