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A Modest Proposal: Advertise Kosher Restaurants to Muslims

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Want to keep your kosher restaurant open? Advertise to Muslims.
 
It is no secret that kosher restaurants and businesses outside of Israel struggle to stay open. In my hometown of San Diego, the average life of a kosher restaurant or store was only a few years before it either closed or the owners decided to become non-kosher.
 
In a similar vein, kosher restaurants and food are expensive with prices continuing to soar. Going out to eat is becoming a luxury only available to the upper class of the kashrut observant community.
 
Well, there is another subgroup of people in America that struggles with many of the same issues as the American Jewish community. The Muslim American community is both fewer in number and newer to this country, with the first mosque being established only a century ago. In this regard, many American Muslim leaders actually look to the Jewish community for guidance in terms of how to establish religious communities as a minority religion.
 
Like American Jews, Muslims also struggle with questions of intermarriage, how to balance their religion with modernity, and yes, where to buy a nice halal dinner without going broke.
 
Halal and kashrut have many similarities. For instance, any animal that shariah law prohibits is also covered by halacha, including pork, insects and types of seafood. Furthermore, like Jews, Muslims don’t eat blood and require animals to be ritually slaughtered with a sharp knife that minimizes the pain.
 
Most of the differences between kashrut and halal stem from the fact that in general, the laws of halal food are less strict than kosher. For instance, and most important to our current conversation, shariah law allows the slaughter of the animal to by “People of the Book” or Jews and Christians, unlike halacha which requires a Jew.
 
The big debate within Islamic jurisprudence (yes, other religions also have debates surrounding their legal codes) is the blessing that the slaughterer must recite before killing the animal. While everyone agrees that some sort of blessing praising God must be said before the slaughter and that the Jewish blessing suffices, the debate amongst Islamic scholars is whether or not this blessing must be recited before every single animal, or if one can just say one blessing for a group of animals.
 
In halacha, a slaughterer will generally say one blessing before killing multiple animals so as not to use God’s name in vain. In shariah law, the majority opinion states that a blessing should be recited before each and every animal. For minority opinions that either allows one blessing for multiple animals or just requires a blessing before eating even without a ritual slaughter, kosher would always be halal in this regard.
 
But even fulfilling this majority opinion within shariah law would be extremely simple for Jewish slaughterers. For one, they could find a way to recite the blessing before every individual animal by simply taking a short break between each animal or having their intention for only one animal at a time. Also, given that shariah does not require the blessing to be in any specific language, the Jewish slaughterer could just say any generic phrase praising God between each animal.
 
Imagine the possibilities if the kosher industry begins to advertise as halal. For one, it could double the number of patrons purchasing kosher food or eating at kosher restaurants. This will, in turn, allow kosher restaurants and businesses to stay afloat without making their prices exorbitantly high.
 
Furthermore, this would be a great way to unite the Muslim and Jewish communities that have many similarities from their legal codes, sociological history, beliefs and institutions.
 
If you or anyone you know is planning on opening a kosher business, take the extra step and certify and advertise it as halal. You will be a pioneer in what can potentially be a great partnership, and doubling your customer base never hurts.
 
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What is the difference between Glatt Kosher and Kosher? See answers from Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis here.
 
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