Germany’s answer to the European Union’s order to label “Green Line” goods was to allow the nation’s biggest kosher supermarket, Daily Markt, to open in Berlin.
In the heart of the nation where Jews once feared to tread, one can shop “blue-and-white” – and find quite a few products from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights.
The initiative comes as a joint effort by German business owner Asan Mytev – who is not Jewish – along with several Jewish entrepreneurs and the assistance of Berlin Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal.
Located in the Chartlottenburg district, the store stocks only kosher items – a boon for those who until now have had to really search for such products.
“We will not be deterred by the security situation,” said Evgeny Bort, co-partner and store manager. “It doesn’t scare us and we don’t linger on it or pay attention to it. We cannot let terrorism stop us and interfere with our lives.”
Rabbi Teichtal likewise noted, “Although in the past our people have faced very difficult times in Europe in general and in Germany in particular, the necessary arrangements for maintaining Jewish life were always made. Although the situation today is quite different, we are still facing security challenges – but they do not discourage us.
“The new supermarket is another addition to the current line of Jewish institutions in the Berlin community which together enable us to maintain a full Jewish life in the city. As observant Jews we see this not only as a duty but also as a privilege.”
Bort acknowledged that some customers were critical of the decision to stock Israeli items, but dismissed the feedback.
“We have many customers who respond negatively … We tell them that this is none of our concern and that we are here to assist all those who wish to shop for kosher products but find the task to be very difficult.”
Why would a non-Jew want to open such a store? Mytev explained, “Until now, anyone who wanted to buy kosher products was forced to visit several different stores in order to find them all… In fact, for all of those customers who wish to buy only kosher products, the seemingly simple task of grocery shopping is actually a very difficult one.
“The Daily Markt provides them with a solution to this problem, enabling them to buy all kinds of kosher products under one roof.”
Due to the size of the business, the partners say they can also afford to offer “decent prices” despite the cost of imports.
“We have decided to sell everything here and to import goods from all over the world – from Europe, the U.S. and also from Israel,” explained Bort.
Surprisingly, almost half of the store’s non-Jewish clientele shop there “because of our affordable prices, regardless of the kosher issue… Also a large number of our non-Jewish customers come here because of our ‘parve’ products, which are known to be lactose-free.
“Like in the United States, the local population in Germany is also starting to realize that kosher is a standard for high-quality and healthy products.”
Hana Levi Julian