New York…by Tova Ross, Feature Editor…Every year, the event occurs, bringing along with it questions of turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce and pecan pie. No, it’s not Thanksgiving dinner, but rather, the annual debate on whether Jews should even be celebrating Thanksgiving. Many Orthodox families do not mark the day with any kind of celebration, perhaps feeling that a holiday associated with good food is more fitting in a religious setting like Sukkot or Passover. There is some debate amongst Talmudic scholars whether Thanksgiving Day is a religious or secular holiday. But that’s where the debate ends since in kosher stores all over America sales of Thanksgiving foods are soaring.
On Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills, various kosher stores, such as Meal Mart, Mauzone and Brach’s, all offer Thanksgiving feasts for up to 12 people. Chef Marty Levin of Mauzone Home Kosher Foods said, “When Mauzone’s was in the retails business, we were making turkeys around the clock for our customers, and sold at least 200-300 for Thanksgiving to our consumers.” Currently, Mauzone’s delivers meals to kosher-keeping seniors through the Meals on Wheels program, and has a contract with the city to deliver meals to seniors across the entire city for holidays, including Thanksgiving. Mauzone’s kosher Thanksgiving meal includes freshly-roasted turkey breast with pan gravy, bread stuffing and vegetables, sweet potato soufflé, and glazed green beans. Leah Katz of Brach’s Glatt Kosher Meat Market puts turkey sales at about 100-150 turkeys during Thanksgiving, pointing out that turkey is a popular dish year-round. “Many people use our Thanksgiving meals for that Shabbos or, if the timing is right, a Chanukah dinner.” Other side dishes include a lauded stuffing, sweet potato kugel, and cranberry relish. One Kew Gardens Hills resident said, “There is no question that there is a holiday atmosphere on Main Street on Thanksgiving, with great hustle and bustle similar to the pre-Yom Tov activity. The bakeries are crowded with people buying bread and pie or cake for the Thanksgiving meal. I’m always so happy to see this, because it proves that even in such an intensely Orthodox neighborhood as Kew Gardens Hills, so many people celebrate the quintessential American holiday. And the very next morning, with people buying their Shabbat food, you’ll hear “Good Shabbos” instead of “Happy Thanksgiving.” It’s an excellent combination of the best in American and Jewish traditions.”
Gourmet Glatt in the Five Towns, is offering a Thanksgiving meal for 8 including turkey, stuffing, yams, green beans almandine, and cranberry sauce. In Brooklyn, China Glatt is offering a traditional turkey dinner in addition to its celebrated sushi and Chinese food, and Dougie’s has a delicious Thanksgiving feast for 10 that includes hot open turkey, stuffing, sweet potato chips, and Dougie’s famous gravy, plus apple or cherry pie. Masbiah Soup Kitchen in Brooklyn plans to serve turkey as well. And even Goldberg’s grocery store in Borough Park is offering weekly specials including turkey steaks and cutlets – though Thanksgiving itself is not referenced by the store. Retailers are not the only ones benefiting from soaring Thanksgiving sales. Kosher restaurants all over the country are offering kosher turkey dinners.