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I can’t believe that’s kosher!

The sight of tottering figures, weaving their way drunkenly down Oswald Road, may not be all that unexpected—too many pubs in the immediate area—but exiting from our shul? That would have to be a fairly rare occurrence. But it would be a little less surprising if they had been witnessed on a certain evening early in December – the night the Kosher Road Show hit town – when certain “revellers” might have been overdosing on the free samples of toffee- and rhubarb-flavoured vodka on offer.

The vodkas, which, it has to be said, were very scrumptious, were just two items in an astonishing array of more than 300 different certified kosher products on display – with the majority of them available for tasting – at the Kosher Road Show. Staged by the Kashrut Division of the London Beth Din, and hosted by our shul for the very first time, the event welcomed not only shul members but also friends from other local Jewish communities as well as the wider community coming in to see what was new in the world of kashrut. Guided by the KLBD’s Sharon Feldman-Vazan, attendees were amazed by the vast range of kosher certified foods and drinks – not just available but available in regular supermarkets, even here in St Albans – all the way from gourmet chocolate and exotic ice-creams to parve cheeses and vegan meats, not forgetting nibbles and snacks, cereals, jams and spreads, teas and coffees, whisky, liqueurs and even those flavoured vodkas— something definitely a little different for you to serve at your simchas (or tipple in private).

Rabbi Daniel’s favourite, he confessed afterwards, was a Greek cheese with mango and chilli chutney combo; mine, I freely admit it, was the melt-in-the-mouth Booja-Booja chocolate – pure chocoholic heaven! Others had their own preferences. And all of it was a far cry—and a lot healthier—from the rather dubious ‘Bake ‘n’ Fry’ – a turkey product got up to look like rashers – I encountered in the USA more than 40 years ago.

Before we got down to the serious business of tasting the products, Sharon set the scene by describing the work done by the Kashrut Division of the London Beth Din not just to ensure the kashrut status of products we already know and love, but also to find new products which will meet the exacting standards of the rabbinical authorities while at the same time exciting our taste-buds and widening the range of kosher goods available to us. Hearing what she had to say was a real eye-opener.

Written by Jeanette Grenby.