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July 7, 2015 / 20 Tammuz, 5775
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Amsterdam Falafel Joint Takes Israelis for a Non-Kosher Ride

By: JTA

By the time they end up at Baba’s Grillroom in central Amsterdam, Israeli tourists tend to be somewhat distracted.

Situated near the famous Rembrandt Square, this popular and veteran falafel eatery is literally surrounded by pot-selling coffee shops that help make Amsterdam one of the top holiday destinations for Israelis — and especially for the young craving a cheap and top-quality high.

Giggly and thoroughly “mastoolim,” Hebrew slang for baked or stoned, they are likely to experience another dope-related phenomenon: The munchies. And that’s a problem for observant Jews in a city that is not exactly famous for its selection of kosher foods.

How fortunate, then, to chance upon the entrance to Baba’s place, with its promising signs in Hebrew and stars of David. Those sober enough to remain skeptical despite the Jewish symbolism are welcome to see Baba’s kosher certificate — a document signed by three rabbis from the United States.

The only problem is that one of the rabbis is deceased and the other two say they never certified any business in Amsterdam, according to a Jan. 9 report by the NIW Dutch Jewish weekly.

Acting on a tip, the paper sent one of its reporters, Jigal Krant, on an undercover mission that involved dressing up like an Israeli tourist and asking (in English) about the kashrut at Baba’s. Staff showed Krant a certificate signed by three rabbis. But the two living rabbis told NIW they had no idea their name was being used by Baba’s.

When NIW confronted the owners — two Egyptian Christians named Hanna Basta Tawadrous, 48, and Nermin Angali, 34 — they denied ever claiming they had a certificate, which NIW had photographed. Apparently, the new owners bought Baba’s approximately a year ago. To NIW they explained that their meat is kosher because it’s halal. (The NIW report did not investigate whether the meat is, in fact, halal.)

This article was written for JTA by Cnaan Liphshiz.

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