Near Rome, Kosher Food Debuts at Seaside Vacation Spot
by Menachem Posner – chabad.org
For generations, Italian Jews have been vacationing in the seaside resort of S. Marinella, northwest of Rome. This summer, for the first time, they’ve been able to buy kosher meats, breads, cheeses, wines, and even fully-prepared meals at a local supermarket, just a stone’s throw away from the beach. And, of course, there are several varieties of authentic and kosher Italian pizza to choose from.
Rabbi Yitzchak Hazan, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Rome together with his wife, Sarah Hazan, explains that the availability of kosher food is a result of the seasonal Chabad House he operates in the city, known as Tempio S. Marinella.
He estimates that as many as 600 Jewish people converge on the village every summer, mostly from Rome, which is approximately an hour’s drive away.
A major draw for Roman Jews, the rabbi explains, is the first day of themonth of Elul, when the local custom is for men, women, and children to gather in the synagogue and listen to the shofar blowing with their eyes closed. Since Elul often begins during August, when people are on vacation, the Tempio sees hundreds of attendees on that day alone.
Prior to covid lockdowns, the Tempio, then located in a spacious villa, would see as many as 250 visitors on a Friday night and many more passing through for Torah classes, communal meals, and prayer services throughout the weekend.
For the past three years, the municipality has been giving a large space at a local school, which has allowed them to hold socially-distanced events and services, including outdoor meals.
While the Tempio, of course, serves and hosts kosher Shabbat meals and hosted life-cycle events, this summer is the first time that kosher food is commercially available in the area, through Chabad’s partnership with Mino Zarfati, owner of Dolce Kosher and Casalino and a good friend of Chabad of Rome.
The supermarket is also located near Civitavecchia, where many Mediterranean cruise ships dock, allowing international travelers to stock up on kosher supplies before continuing their voyages.
“The kosher section is an excellent opportunity for all Jewish people who spend time in S. Marinella, even those who are not strictly observant,” says Valentina Sasson, a mother of two who spends her summers in the village and is among the many who have benefitted from the kosher section. “Thanks to Chabad we have everything: a synagogue, Shabbat, and now kosher food!”
“The response has been tremendous,” the rabbi reports. “The supermarket had to restock on kosher meat four times in the first week, and people cannot believe that they can keep kosher in style here at the seaside.”
This article has been reprinted with permission from chabad.org