By Andrea Karshan-Bhatti
I am sure that many of us have had discussions over the quality, price and variety of food at the cafeteria, but what about the needs of those CSI students on a Kosher and Halal diet?
I happened to bump into Razi Mahwish, who ran for a sophomore senate seat in the recent Student Government elections, who wanted to tackle the Kosher and Halal food in the cafeteria. What’s already there are Kosher salads and wraps, but those are limited. And at one time there were also Halal options, but those were discontinued.
Where do we go from here?
There should be more food available for the Jewish and Muslim population on campus.
Rabbi David Chandalov stated that though Muslims often come to Kosher stores and get Kosher food, Jews cannot eat Halal food because Jewish food laws are more strict. The Rabbi explained that Jews can’t mix dairy with meat and can’t eat shellfish.
To best serve both populations, it’s best to ask for an increase in Kosher food, which would increase the chances of it getting accomplished.
The next question focuses on whether Jews and Muslims on campus are united on this push.
Five Muslim CSI students were asked separately whether they’d be interested in this campaign and they each has a similar response: They eat both Halal and Kosher food. They understood that having more Kosher food would make things more convenient.
Adam Rimler, a Jewish student at CSI, expressed interest in bringing more Kosher options to the cafeteria, but noted that if the food needed to be heated up, there needs to be a Kosher microwave. Rimler was also concerned about the price and quality of the food, and stated that those things would determine whether he’d buy it.
Another Jewish student, Aderet Averick, complained about the current quality of the Kosher food and asked that more attention be paid to quality. I spoke with Amy L. Posner Executive Director of Hillel. She said she felt students would buy more Kosher food from the cafeteria if there were better options.
Many students, she said, bring Kosher food from home and this would probably continue until they saw changes. The cafeteria is very good at supplying Kosher catering for most events, but she would like there to be a larger Kosher alternative at events that feature cookouts. She suggested that the cafeteria have a falafel or shawarma area.
“If there were gyros in the cafeteria I would buy one every day,” Allan Feldman, a Jewish student said.
I requested a statement from the College of Staten Island Muslim Students Association concerning the issue, but they declined to comment.
Rabbi David Chandalov stated that all prepackaged food has to be sealed and separate, and if Kosher food was to be cooked, it would have to be cooked in a completely different area in a separate sink and grill in a cooking area that is certified and inspected. An easy way to do offer Kosher food, he said, is to have vending machines with this food available.
I suggest the cafeteria arrange for a Kosher microwave where only Kosher food is allowed to be heated. If the cafeteria supplied quality meals at a good price, Muslim and Jewish students would probably find it easier to eat.