web analytics
October 30, 2014 / 6 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



His Whole Life Turned On A Sandwich


You never know what event will spark a person’s desire to return to Judaism. Art Sherman was an assimilated Jew married to a Polish Catholic woman. He owned a non-kosher Italian “hero sandwich shop” and an unbelievable comment, one day by his Rastafarian employee, sent him on a life-changing journey.

After their wedding in 1973, Art and Karen moved from place to place, first to Philadelphia and then to Brooklyn. There, he decided to open a small sandwich store. He made all types of sandwiches, from five different kinds of cheese steaks to Italian hoagies stacked high with ham, pork-salami and provolone cheese. Customers loved the sandwiches and business was great.

Over time, he started noticed specific groups of people who would not eat particular sandwiches. He had lots of Jamaican, Seventh Day Adventist and Muslim customers who said they didn’t eat pork because it was prohibited in the Old Testament.

Art continued to devour his non-kosher sandwiches, but over time he began to sense the irony of his non-Jewish customers attempting to follow religious dietary laws, which he ignored completely.

“The Muslims would make me wipe off the slicing machine before I cut roast beef or corned beef for their sandwiches. For myself, I couldn’t care less,” Art said. “I could eat so much pork it would make the Pope sick. I had all these non-Jewish people coming in who had more respect for where I came from than I did.”

One of his employees, who was a Rastafarian, refused to eat meat altogether. He was a vegetarian, because as he told Art, “the Bible forbids the consumption of blood.” Rastafarians take this Biblical statement to further prohibit the consumption of any animal flesh.

Art continued to consume away. One day in his store, he had a craving for a huge hoagie, with everything on it.

“I wanted a ‘Marciano’ Italian Hot Ham and Provolone cheese. The sandwich had to have perfect balance. It was my place. I could put on as much meat or cheese as I deemed appropriate. But too much meat, not enough cheese, and the balance would be thrown off. I had to have room for the lettuce, tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, hot peppers, oil and oregano,” Art said. “I was in Alpha concentration. Totally focused on the task at hand when the Rastafarian guy walks up behind me and says in a deep voice, ‘you know Art, you really shouldn’t eat ham.’”

Something about the Rastafarian’s statement caused Art to stop and think about what he was doing.

“I felt like I had been slapped in the face! Shot in the heart! It woke me up,” Art said.

“I knew I really shouldn’t eat ham. I went to Hebrew school. But the last person I expected to call me on it was this guy. What could I say? He was right.”

Art made a commitment at that moment to keep what he called “Arab Kosher.” He decided to stop eating all pork and shellfish products. “It was a big step for me and I was proud to take it.”

Art came home that night and told his wife about his epiphany. She immediately agreed to join him. Although it created tension with her family, Karen remained steadfast in her determination. In the past, every other little Jewish activity, such as having a Passover Seder, had seemed to bring them closer together, and this action was no different.

The commitment to cut out pork and shellfish from their lives launched the Shermans on a journey of growth and exploration. Soon, Art closed his store and he and his family moved to his hometown, a small Jewish neighborhood in Margate, outside Atlantic City. Art and Karen, along with their two daughters, began going to a synagogue around the corner from their house, and he and his wife began taking Jewish classes. Over time they began keeping kosher and took on more mitzvot.

“I felt like there was something really familiar about it,” Karen said. “When the teacher talked about Sinai, I knew clearly that that’s where my soul had been. I finally began to understand the identity of my soul.”

With this newfound realization and excitement, Karen continued learning. She and her daughters eventually converted. Years later Karen learned that several of her ancestors had actually been Jewish.

Art and Karen say they still look back in astonishment at the extraordinary source that launched them on their growth. That one comment from the Rastafarian employee, of all people, sent them on an incredible life journey. But the fact that it came from such an unexpected source was a major reason it had the impact that it did.

“Sometimes you’re all ready to defend yourself from a religious Jew, but you’re not ready to defend yourself against a Gentile telling you things that the rabbis taught,” Art said. “I was like a tank. I was fortified, heavily reinforced from the front for a frontal attack, but my armor was not as thick on the side. When you get hit on the side, sometimes – boom – the rounds go through. The Rastafarian caught me in the ribs.”

Hashem has lots of quills of all different types in His quiver, depending on who He is trying to reach. And you just never know what quill He will use next.

Today Art Sherman makes Kosher Hoagies while speaking to Jewish groups about his journey. In early 2009 he will be opening a new kosher meat restaurant in Manalapan, NJ called “Just Good Food!” that will offer hoagies as well as Middle Eastern and Italian dishes. He can be reached at 347-581-4411 or Asher26593@aol.com.

Michael Gros is the Chief Operating Officer of the outreach organization The Atlanta Scholars’ Kollel. The Teshuva Journey is a monthly column chronicling amazing teshuva journeys and inspiring kiruv tales. Send comments to michaelgros@gmail.com; to receive the column via e-mail or see back issues, visit http://www.michaelgros.com

About the Author: Michael Gros writes from Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. The Teshuva Journey column chronicles uplifting teshuva journeys and inspiring kiruv tales. To read more articles and sign up to receive them via email, visit http://www.michaelgros.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “His Whole Life Turned On A Sandwich”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Abbas and the Temple Mount: "It's mine, all mine. No Jews allowed.
Abbas Declares Closure of Al Aqsa Mosque a ‘Declaration of War’
Latest Judaism Stories
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Why does Hebrew refer to mothers-in-law as “sunshine” when society often calls them the opposite?

Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

Having herself been victimized by Pharoah, Sarah should have been more sensitive to Hagar.

The-Shmuz

Avram’s father was not impressed with the cleverness of his son. In fact, he was so unimpressed that he took him to Nimrod the king, who pronounced him an enemy of the state and attempted to execute him.

Lech Lecha Thumbnail

How do the stories in Lech Lecha help us understand the central tension of Abraham’s life, legacy?

Abraham did not govern society but instead was the representative of God’s kingdom on earth.

Hagar grossly miscalculated her own merits and demonstrated a serious lack of gratitude for Sarai.

Noach was the lonely man of faith living in a depraved world, full of wickedness.

Avraham became a great man during the 175 years of his life, while his predecessors became increasingly wicked, despite staggering knowledge, during their lifetimes of hundreds of years.

Shem realized that he owed his existence to his father who brought him into the world.

Law-Abiding Citizen
‘That Which Is Crooked Cannot Be Made Straight…’
(Yevamos 22a-b)

The flood was not sent to destroy, but to restore the positive potential of the world.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Why is there is no mention of dinosaurs, and other prehistoric animals, in the Torah?

Strict din demands perfection. There is no room for shortcomings and no place for excuses; you are responsible.

Surprisingly, my husband and one son arrived home over half-an-hour earlier than usual. I excitedly shared my perfect-timing story, but my better half one upped me easily.

More Articles from Michael Gros
Lessons-in-Emunah-new

Throughout the war, Akiva had several brief furloughs home, and each time exchanged whichever mishnayos volume he had finished for the next in the series.

Alan Stuart Veingrad played for the Green Bay Packers for five seasons, and two seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, playing in a total of 86 games.

Shlomo Veingrad has traveled further for his speaking engagements than even during his days in the NFL, crisscrossing America and speaking around the world.

In 1992 the Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVII. Among the members of the team was a young Jewish man named Alan Veingrad. Alan, now Shlomo, became frum several years later and found a much more significant calling: as an in-demand speaker he captivates Jewish and non-Jewish audiences around the world with lessons from his football days and from his teshuva journey.

Twenty-five years ago, when kiruv was still a relatively new concept, a group of four young rabbis left Ner Yisrael with families in tow to head down south to Atlanta, Georgia. Rabbi David Silverman was one of those pioneers who founded the Atlanta Scholars Kollel. He is a powerhouse of kiruv – his charisma, sincerity and broad knowledge have helped him inspire thousands of Jews, including this writer.

Pesach is the time of redemption and salvation, which can often come from the most unexpected sources. Such is the story of a boxing title fight in Yankee Stadium that launched a young boy from Russia on a journey to discover his Jewish heritage in Israel.

Jonathan, who once wondered how he would ever get his son close to Hashem, now knows he wasn’t the only one who wanted it. Hashem had an interest in it as well, and made it all come together.

You never know what event will spark a person’s desire to return to Judaism. Art Sherman was an assimilated Jew married to a Polish Catholic woman. He owned a non-kosher Italian “hero sandwich shop” and an unbelievable comment, one day by his Rastafarian employee, sent him on a life-changing journey.

For every Jew alive today, even the most unobservant, it’s necessary to only go a couple of limbs up the family tree to find an observant predecessor.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/judaism-101/his-whole-life-turned-on-a-sandwich/2009/01/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: