Rabbi keeps things kosher for World Cup fans in Qatar
From his sixth-floor hotel room in the heart of Qatar, Rabbi Eli Chitrik is offering a unique service for the capital city of Doha: fresh kosher food for anyone who needs it.
With the World Cup still unfolding, it has proven to be a popular spot among newcomers to the city who are finding it difficult to locate kosher food.
“There are many fans who want a good kosher option and that’s what we’re here for,” Chitrik told CTV National News.
From morning to evening, his phone is constantly buzzing.
Fans either stop by his hotel or he delivers two different sandwich options cooked up daily in a special kitchen provided by Qatar Airways.
This has given people the accessibility needed for them to come to Doha for the games.
“[We] have fresh bagels, sandwiches made every morning, and they can just come and get it.” Chitrik said. “I’m always on call. The work never stops”
Sammy Moscisker is one of the many fans able to keep kosher while in Qatar thanks to Chitrik.
“It’s really special,” he told CTV National News. “Really amazing, it’s made my whole trip much more comfortable.”
When a food is kosher, it means it has been prepared according to a Jewish dietary framework, which restricts the eating of certain animals and the pairing of some foods.
Qatar and Israel have no formal diplomatic relationship, and while direct flights from Tel Aviv to Doha have been available during the World Cup, officials have said this was to comply with FIFA requirements, not a step toward normalizing ties.
Still, Chitrik says the service providing kosher food wouldn’t have been possible without help from Qatari officials.
“Whether it’s from helping us find a kitchen, providing a kitchen, anything and everything we needed right away, they helped us out,” he said.
Having any ties with Israel is a contentious topic in Qatar.
Qatari officials have frequently shown public support for Palestinians in their ongoing conflict with Israel, and there have been demonstrations held in Doha during the World Cup in support of the Palestinian cause. Israeli social media has been filled with videos showing Israeli TV reporters receiving hostile receptions from some Arab soccer fans.
Chitrik, a Canadian citizen who lives in Istanbul, says he has felt welcome as a rabbi in Doha.
“I look like a rabbi, I dress like a rabbi, I walk around the whole city dressed like this,” he said.
The response has been “open and accepting,” he added. “Many people asking me questions, it’s been amazing so far.”
With files from CTVNews.ca`s Alexandra Mae Jones