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Will the Big Y stay kosher?

Will the Big Y stay kosher?
Courant story opens an old wound
By Judie Jacobson

News stories don’t seem to be in short supply these days. Certainly not here in Connecticut, where the state continues to be confounded by mounting fiscal woes, and the races for the key seats of Governor and Senator are in full swing. Globally, of course, there’s the Iranian nuclear threat, the Mid-East peace talks, the war in Afghanistan, the anemic job market, the increasingly discontented American public…
But the burning story in the greater Hartford Jewish community these days is none of those things (well, okay, maybe the peace talks). The burning issue for many living in West Hartford and its surrounding towns, it would seem, is kosher meat. Or, more specifically, will the Big Y supermarket maintain Waldbaum’s glatt kosher fresh meat department, deli and bakery once it takes over the Bishops Corner store. The store is one of several supermarkets owned by A&P that have been sold to Big Y. It will close at the end of September and reopen as a Big Y World Class Market.
The fate of the supermarket’s kosher meat department has not yet been announced. Nonetheless, the issue earned a front page story in the Hartford Courant. With nothing much to report about the Big Y’s decision, the article focused instead on a long-ago community feud concerning the kashrut of the fresh meat and deli at Crown Market, which sits across the street from Waldbaum’s. Ironically, the advent of a glatt kosher meat department at Waldbaum’s several years ago helped to calm those frayed nerves. Now, shoppers in the market for kosher meat had two stores to choose from. Everyone was happy.
Until the Hartford Courant came along. No sooner had the article hit the stands on Monday, Sept. 20 than two of those interviewed cried foul. Both Rabbi Yitzchok Adler of Beth David Synagogue in West Hartford, who heads the Hartford Kashrut Commission, and Cantor Sandy Cohen of The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford, who happened to be shopping at Waldbaum’s last week when the Courant reporter approached him, claimed that their words were either misquoted or misconstrued. Both, independently of one another, wrote letters to the Ledger that appear on page 8.
Which leaves us still wondering…will there or won’t there be glatt kosher meat at the West Hartford Big Y?
As the Ledger went to press, Adler said that a decision from Big Y is just days away. We hope to have the answer for readers in the next issue.
Meanwhile, Mark Bokoff, owner of the Crown Market, announced plans to carry a line of prepackaged glatt kosher fresh meat and chicken.
In a separate development – and regardless of the Big Y’s decision – Steve Shuman of Shuman Catering is finalizing plans to open a kosher restaurant in Bloomfield. Shuman, a glatt kosher caterer who provides prepared food for the Waldbaum’s deli, also plans to open a food bar at the Mandell Jewish Community Center in West Hartford in the near future.
Which is not to say he won’t also remain a presence at the Big Y.
“When Big Y buys Waldbaum’s, I’m hoping they still carry my glatt kosher prepared foods,” he says. “I haven’t heard anything yet, but if Big Y decides not to do that, I’ll definitely have full-service kosher catering in my new place.”


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