Emergency Management/Disaster Relief

Letter from Bahrain: A Jew at the Arab table

Letter from Bahrain: A Jew at the Arab table (originally published by JTA http://www.jta.org/2010/12/09/life-religion/letter-from-bahrain-a-jew-at-the-arab-table)

By Shai FranklinDecember 9, 2010 12:09am

MANAMA, Bahrain (JTA) — It’s not often an observant Jew like me, living in New York, gets to spend Chanukah with a bunch of Arab diplomats in the Persian Gulf. But I found myself warmly welcomed when I showed up for the recent Manama Dialogue, a conference sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies and hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Mindful of Shabbat, my hosts had arranged for me to stay at a hotel within walking distance of the main conference site. At the front desk, clerks appended a note to my room’s electronic key card: “Please assist him to open the door [tradition].”

After watching the sunset on Friday I was in Bahrain, knowing that Israel was hundreds of miles to the west across the Arabian deserts, I prayed, recited Kiddush and ate my LaBriute instant-warming kosher dinner. Then I emptied my pockets — no eruvs in Bahrain, at least for now — and headed outside past heavily armed Bahrain security forces and into the conference to hear U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton address the opening dinner. When I met Sheikh Khalid, the foreign minister, he greeted me with a cheerful “Happy Chanukah!”

I had come to Bahrain as a representative of the American Council for World Jewry to hear Arab policymakers talk about what’s on their minds, and I learned a few things while getting to watch some interesting interactions.

On Friday night, both Iran’s foreign minister and the U.S. secretary of state shared a ballroom, though their eyes did not meet. With the VIP table positioned perpendicular to the dais, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was able to avoid looking at Clinton during or after her speech, though she repeatedly tried to catch his glance. Mottaki sat through her remarks and the question-and-answer without ever turning his head or displaying any expression. His aides, however, took diligent notes.

When Mottaki spoke the next morning, I asked one of the technicians to “show me” how the electronic translation device works, so I could listen to a translation of his remarks without overtly violating the Sabbath by handling the device myself.

It wasn’t as if I was the only Jew in the kingdom; Bahrain has been home to a small but active Jewish community for more than a century. The kingdom has a newly appointed member of parliament who is Jewish; its U.S. ambassador is Jewish, too. Both are women. On my next visit to Bahrain, I hope to visit the synagogue.

Its geographic proximity to Iran makes Bahrain, like many Persian Gulf states, nervous about the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Jordan’s King Abdullah avoided all reference to — and reportedly all contact with — the Iranian delegates.

For their part, some of the Iranian delegates privately expressed satisfaction with an American empire that is overextended and compromised as a result of its overseas adventures.

“Thank you for invading Iraq,” one said.

Most of the Arabs on hand treated the notion that Iran’s nuclear program is intended only for peaceful purposes as an obvious joke.

The conversations at the conference weren’t only about Iran. In off-the-record sessions on Iraq and Yemen, generals and ministers spoke candidly. In his public keynote address, King Abdullah told his fellow Arabs that they must do more to show Israelis what peace would look like before time runs out.

In the Abu Dhabi airport on my way back home, I picked up The National, a newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates that carried an Associated Press report on the international effort to extinguish the Carmel forest fire in Israel. Innocuous talk of Israel is not so remarkable here, where pragmatism and economics often trump
ideology and religion.

The same goes for us. If Iran’s foreign minister can sit in on a speech by Clinton, we as Jews can afford to be in the same room and maybe hold the door open for them. Even on Shabbat, and maybe especially on Chanukah.

(Shai Franklin, policy director of the American Council for World Jewry, attended the Manama Dialogue as a guest of the Bahrain Foreign Ministry.)

Labriute Meals Completes Passover Meals Military Operation

LAKEWOOD, N.J., March 30, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Labriute Meals based in Lakewood NJ announced today that it has completed Operation Military Passover Meals and that all of the brave men and women in all branches of U.S. military will be able to enjoy Kosher for Passover meals wherever they are.

Labriute Meals was awarded an exclusive three-year DLA contract (Defense Logistics Agency) to supply kosher MREs (meals ready to eat) to troops stationed around the world. “Passover is an exciting yet challenging period at Labriute Meals. We have to ensure uninterrupted production of our meals to all of our market segments, but shipping meals in time for Passover to our brave men and women of all branches of the United States military is our highest priority,” says Abe Halberstam, President, and Founder of Labriute Meals. “Last year, Labriute was invited to attend the bi-annual JWB convention in Baltimore where I spoke in front of a gathering of all US Military chaplains. It was a humbling experience as well as incredibly gratifying to hear from the chaplains how much our Passover meals mean to our troops. Our Kosher MRE’s in addition to meeting religious observance, also serve as our soldiers’ connection back to their families who have to conduct a “Seder” without them,” continued Mr. Halberstam.

Mr. Halberstam explains, “The challenge stems from having to end our regular production of kosher MREs, then prepare and certify our equipment for our Kosher for Passover so production can begin. It is quite a complex logistical project as we have to coordinate “kashrut” of our plant as well as receipt of all of the Kosher for Passover food ingredients.”

Labriute ships over ten thousand kosher MRE meals which will be dispatched by the DLA to all branches of the military including active engagement territories. “We are truly honored to be part of this project. In 2016, Labriute was called upon to deliver additional meals to our troops. Our trucks drove through the night to meet one of the Navy ships in order for meals to reach their destination. A truly gratifying experience for all of our employees” said Mr. Halberstam.

For additional information, please contact Abe Halberstam, abe@labriutemeals.com or 732.955.1555 (cell) 631.875 4103.

Food. The right kind of fuel, especially when you’re on-the-go or away from home.

It has become common sense that the day-to-day intake of fresh fruits and
vegetables is a key to maintaining good health. When we make a trip away
from home, or away from civilization at large, however, the game changes a
bit. Not only will we have limited access to fresh, clean produce – our
needs change as well. We usually leave home with the intention of doing
something outside our normal routine, and for that we need more energy.

The key to safely and efficiently staying active is to utilize the right
kind of fuel.

Two nutrient groups that are essential to pay attention to during times of
activity are carbohydrates and fat. Though everyone’s body is unique in how
it utilizes food and creates energy, we can be sure that the building
blocks we require are coming predominantly from one or both of these
sources. Do not let marketing fool you- times of increased energy demands
on the body are not the times to experiment with restrictive weight-loss

Carbohydrates, which get converted to sugar inside the body, are the basic
building blocks of our energy system. Simple carbs (simple sugars) are
burned quickly by the body, giving short bursts of immediate energy, while
complex carbs (complex sugars) are digested slowly and release energy over
the long-term. Both are useful in different ways, though as a general
guideline, complex carbohydrates are going to be more efficient and more
likely to provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Not only is fat an essential nutrient, the fat we store in our tissues is
the largest reserve of energy we have. Pound for pound, fat is the most
concentrated source of caloric energy we can consume. Furthermore, fat is
required by the body to absorb and utilize vitamins A, D, E, and K. The key
to consuming fats in a healthy manner is to maximize consumption of
unsaturated fat, which also carries proven benefit to cholesterol levels
and overall heart health.

Protein is often considered a power nutrient – and it is – however its
primary function is repair and maintenance of the tissues. While protein is
something we definitely want to have in our diet, the body only utilizes
protein as a fuel source in the absence of a better option, and it is slow
to metabolize in the body. The key is to consume only as much protein as we
need, which is especially simple to do when we are including enough fat in
our diet.

The one category in which there is no room for flexibility is cleanliness
of the food. It doesn’t matter how healthy the meal is on paper- if its
cleanliness is in question, its not worth it to take the risk. Perishable
food that isn’t cared for properly, or food taken from a contaminated
source, will inevitably lead to far worse consequences than fatigue.

Finally, our food should taste good. Not only should it taste good, it has
to taste good if we want to engage our metabolic processes at their
maximum. Its been proven that when we enjoy our food, our bodies can digest
food and assimilate nutrients more efficiently. It has also been proven
that the same food digests differently in different bodies. This means that
the precise nutritional value of any given meal is relative to a wide range
of factors. The beauty of dietary guidelines is that it is neither
difficult to meet them, nor to find enough freedom inside of them to enjoy
our meals.

Can Non Jews East Kosher?

Can anyone Eat Kosher?

Of course they can, and many do with good reason. The meaning of Kosher in
the context of food mainly deals with the way food is selected and
prepared. While for Jews, the implications of eating Kosher food may
ultimately be spiritual in nature, the process of determining what is
Kosher and preparing food according to Jewish law are incredibly practical
and often include obvious health benefits.

On the most basic level, we find that cleanliness, respect for our natural
environment, and respect for our bodies are the guiding principles. Kosher
principles are relative to all human beings, so it is no surprise that
non-Jews find a great deal of physical and moral advantage in eating Kosher
food. In fact, the market research firm Mintel found in a 2009 survey that
3 out of 5 Kosher food buyers choose Kosher not for religious reasons, but
for food quality. The top 3 reasons given by consumers for purchasing
Kosher were “food quality,” “general healthfulness,” and “food safety.”

To take a simple example, let’s look at the preparation of meat. In Jewish
law, cruelty to animals is explicitly forbidden. Kosher meat must be
prepared in a way that does not cause pain to the animal. As we have become
aware of the inhumane conditions suffered by animals in conventional
slaughterhouses, Kosher food has emerged as a much-needed way for people to
enjoy meat with peace of mind.

Along similar lines, only healthy animals are permitted for slaughter and
consumption according to Jewish law. Animals are closely inspected for
disease and organ defects during the selection process. It is also
forbidden to consume the blood of the animals. Kosher meat must have all
the blood removed d- even a single drop is enough to nullify a Kosher
certification. Again, while there are spiritual implications for such
practices, both modern science and the food industry have confirmed that
many of the health risks surrounding meat consumption are eliminated in
such ways. The USDA and Journal of Food Science have both published studies
confirming the reduction of harmful bacteria in meat during the Koshering

For these and a host of other reasons, Kosher slaughterhouses must be kept
incredibly clean and operated by thoughtful, conscientious people. Produce,
too, undergoes similar scrutiny- the presence of an insect on a piece of
fruit would be equally as non-Kosher as a drop of blood on an egg, for
example. The cross-hybridization of produce is also strictly forbidden. As
the pool of ingredients and processes utilized by the food industry becomes
increasingly more complex, consumers are rightfully becoming more
interested in confirming the quality and safety of their food.

Regardless of religious beliefs, anyone who has ever eaten a meal in Kosher
household can attest to the care and diligence that must be paid to the
process of selecting, preparing, and serving food. One would naturally find
even more rigor and discipline in certified Kosher facilities, which is why
Kosher food is more and more becoming an obvious choice for consumers of
all backgrounds.