Photo Credit: Marc Gronich
The entrance to Kosherfest at Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ, last year.

The venerable international trade show for the kosher food industry, Kosherfest, has been cancelled for 2020. The event was slated for November 10 and 11 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ.

People from 34 states and 20 countries were expected to attend this year, according to Menachem Lubinsky, president and CEO of Brooklyn-based LUBICOM Marketing Consulting.


“One of the major reasons for canceling Kosherfest this year was because there are travel restrictions,” Lubinsky told The Jewish Press. “Israeli companies have forbidden any travel in 2020. We spoke to the Romanians and it’s the same thing. This is going on in country after country. Just to put together a small regional show, that’s not the objective of Kosherfest. More than 20 percent of the show attendees and exhibitors are not from the New York City area.”

Some of the larger exhibitors were canceling their floor space because with a low turnout company brass did not see a value in the two-day business-to-business trade show.

“For example, Kedem,” Lubinsky noted. “One of the reasons that they go is to meet their salespeople from all over the world. If the overseas salespeople are not there it’s the primary reason for Kedem not to come. Once you don’t have the attendance, there’s no reason for the exhibitors to come.

“By and large I think people expected it. I don’t think anyone was surprised that Kosherfest wasn’t going to take place in November. Sixty percent of the exhibitors who are in the show in 2019 had already booked for 2020. Some of them had already given deposits. It was just a question of a reallocation to whenever that 2021 show is going to take place. Whenever everybody feels it’s going to be safe to hold a show and air travel resumes. We don’t even have El Al back. Israel is now in the throes of a second wave.”

News releases urging companies to sign up stopped coming in mid-July giving the heads-up that the show will not go on this year. This week, Lubinsky said decisions will be made as to when the multi-million dollar trade show will be rescheduled and what events are going to replace that.

“There’s still a big question as to what 2021 is going to look like,” Lubinsky said. “They may do the new product competition virtually. They may do a webinar with some people from the kosher food industry. That’s not a replacement for Kosherfest, absolutely not.

“They are looking to book the exhibitors into a 2021 slot and hopefully next year to make up some of the lost revenue from this year. The loss is not the gross profit. The loss is the net profit. The gross profit they also don’t have the expense of putting on the show, which is a huge savings.”

* * * * *

Chabad Goes From Three Sukkahs To Ten In The Niagara Area For Sukkos


Every year, during Chol Hamoed Sukkos, Jews from New York City travel everywhere – from points overseas, including Israel, to other American states and cities in New York– in order to entertain adults and children alike. This year there are travel restrictions, including a 14-day quarantine period, which put a damper on extravagant travel plans.

Lake George minyan sign.

Among the places in New York state the charedi Jewish community safely travel to is Niagara Falls, Albany, Saratoga and Lake George. Since the better view of Niagara Falls is from the Canadian side and Canada is restricting travel to cross the border, it is expected Jews will be making their pilgrimage to sites in eastern New York. This year the Chabad of Saratoga and Capital Chabad are planning on a larger than normal crowd for their sukkahs.

“Last year we had three days of Chol Hamoed and attracted 1,400 Jews to two sukkahs – one each in Saratoga Springs and Lake George,” Rabbi Abba Rubin, director of the Saratoga Chabad told The Jewish Press. “This year, with four days of Chol Hamoed (Monday, October 5 to Thursday, October 8), we’re expecting more people because of fewer safe travel options. With social distancing we can’t fit too many people into one sukkah so we need to build more sukkahs than we ever had.”

Rubin says he is working to establish a network of ten spacious sukkahs from Albany to Lake George to serve kosher travelers. He is also planning on “offering three daily minyanim at each site. Due to Covid concerns, this expanded service allows kosher travelers and tourists to vacation safely with a sense of certainty during these uncertain times. These serve primarily tourists, as well as our smaller local Jewish communities,” Rubin said. “The main tourist attractions in the area will be the changing foliage, boat rides on Lake George, horseback riding and hiking along nature trails.”

As in years past, in Albany County there will be a sukkah at Shomray Torah, known as the shteeble, located at 463 New Scotland Avenue and at what is commonly known as the kosher Price Chopper, 1892 Central Avenue, in the town of Colonie, approximately two miles west of the Adirondack Northway, exit 2W.

Price Chopper sukkah.

Building the sukkahs cost approximately $600 per sukkah including portable bathroom facilities.

“We need sponsors to cover the costs of this vital Hachnosas Orchim L’covid Sukkos service during this critical time,” Rubin said.

To sponsor a sukkah and specific schedule information for Sukkos and minyanim, please contact Rubin at 518-526-0773 or email him at [email protected].

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Marc Gronich is the owner and news director of Statewide News Service. He has been covering government and politics for 44 years, since the administration of Hugh Carey. He is an award-winning journalist. His Albany Beat column appears monthly in The Jewish Press and his coverage about how Jewish life intersects with the happenings at the state Capitol appear weekly in the newspaper. You can reach Mr. Gronich at [email protected].