China prepares to feed Olympic Jews
It may be the third-largest country in the world, and visited by thousands of Jewish and Israeli tourists every year, but in all of China there is only one kosher restaurant: Dini's, in Beijing.
This diner is not just the only place in China that offers its guests matzo ball soup, kugel, and Moroccan cigars eaten with chopsticks, it's also the only place where a mitzvah-keeping tourist can sample local delicacies such as dim-sum and Sichuan chicken made with all-kosher ingredients, while listening to the head rabbi's daughter answer questions about the Torah's Portion of the Week every Friday evening.
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The average price per customer is 120 yuan (around NIS 60), which is not cheap by Chinese standards, but the restaurant is a life-saver for members of the Jewish community residing in the city, as well as the increasing amount of Israeli tourists and businessmen that visit there. And it even delivers.
"The days in which Jews had to wander through China with suitcases full of preserved food are over," said Rabbi Shimon Freundlich, Chabad's envoy to Beijing.
According to the restaurant's manager, Ohad Tiktinski, locals have also begun to frequent Dini's, due to their belief that kosher food is healthier and cleaner. However even the Chinese people, who are rumored to consume everything that has four legs other than the kitchen table, have their limits. They refuse to touch the gefilte fish.
During the Olympics, scheduled to open in Beijing in two weeks, the restaurant will be open 24 hours a day (except Saturdays, of course), as it plans to feed the hungry mouths of around 400 Jewish athletes, reporters, and coaches staying at the Olympic village.
Rabbi Freundlich, on whom the title "The Olympic Rabbi" has been bestowed, has even received a list of guests from the Olympic Games Committee. He said the kosher meat is already awaiting them in the freezer: 7.5 tons of beef and 9 tons of chicken, prepared by kosher demand.
Adi Dvir contributed to this report