World Cup: Religious Jews to get kosher food in Qatar

Johanna Afriat

Digital Journalist

5 min read
Employees prepare food in a dining hall at the Al-Emadi fan village in Doha ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup football tournament.
Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFPEmployees prepare food in a dining hall at the Al-Emadi fan village in Doha ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup football tournament.

The kosher kitchen is under the supervision of Rabbi Mendy Chitrik of Istanbul

Practicing Jewish supporters who come to watch the World Cup matches in Qatar benefit from kosher food on site, according to the spokesperson for the Israeli delegation present in the Arab state.

“Several rabbis from other Gulf countries and the United States have taken initiatives to provide kosher food to Jewish and Israeli tourists,” Alon Lavi told i24NEWS.

“You also have to keep in mind that observant Jews have generally only planned a short stay in Qatar, so they also have the possibility of switching to fruits and vegetables during this time.”

Courtesy
CourtesyThe team of kosher cooks and supervisors assigned to the Doha Kosher Kitchen in Qatar, November 20, 2022.

The comments come after recent media reports saying that the Arab state banned kosher food on its soil.

American Rabbi Marc Schneier is the one who facilitated the opening of the first-ever kosher kitchen in Qatar, through joint efforts of the American and Qatari authorities.

"The FIFA World Cup is about bringing people together, interacting with different nations, cultures and religions, and making everyone feel included and welcome," said Rabbi Marc Schneier, who chairs the New-York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding that works to improve Jewish-Muslim relations.

The community leader has worked closely with Qatari officials for the past five years to welcome the participation of Jewish fans in the World Cup, which kicks off in Doha on Sunday. 

Courtesy
CourtesyReady-to-eat bagels prepared in a kosher kitchen set up in Doha for the World Cup in Qatar.

“Qatari officials told me about three of their goals for this World Cup: to welcome Jewish and Israeli supporters, to provide access to kosher food for observant Jews, and to set up direct flights between Tel Aviv and Doha. And all of these goals have been met," Schneier noted.

He is particularly grateful to Qatar Airways for having offered their kitchen, which has been koshered, to prepare the two meals a day offered to supporters who respect the dietary laws of Judaism.

The kosher kitchen is under the supervision of Rabbi Mendy Chitrik of Istanbul, chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis of Islamic States, and his son Rabbi Eliyahu Chitrik.

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As for authorized prayers, Lavi pointed out that, to his knowledge, there are no synagogues in Qatar but that it is quite possible to pray in other places, without specifying whether it was permitted in public. 

Be that as it may, the spokesperson for the Israeli delegation recalled that the watchword which should govern the behavior of Israeli supporters was "discretion."

He pointed out in particular that the only flags authorized in the stadiums by FIFA were those of the teams currently playing and that there was therefore no reason to bring Israeli flags to the stadium, since the national team will not compete in the World Cup.

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“Israeli fans should above all use common sense, and keep in mind that they are in a Muslim country which does not have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

"They are mixed with tourists from other Arab countries such as Iran or Saudi Arabia", noted Alon Lavi.

Thousands of Israeli supporters are expected in Qatar to attend the World Cup. The first direct commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Doha - specially chartered for the event - took place on Sunday. Israel has also signed an agreement with Qatar to set up a temporary diplomatic office there to provide assistance to Israeli nationals during the month that the competition will last.

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