April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

To the Editor:

If it walks like a duck and it quacks, does it matter whether you call it a sports bar or sports restaurant? In my opinion, it does not matter what you call it. If the end result is that we are exposing ourselves and our youth to alcohol, there will be trouble down the road.

In JLBC’s Aug 28th article, an owner of this new establishment said that they saw an opportunity to fill a need for the community. NEED? Really! The owner says that hundreds of local workers are affected by not having a kosher establishment with this sort of fare that sells alcohol to satisfy their colleagues and business guests. Is this why we should change our neighborhood for the worse? I feel that granting a hashgacha makes drinking an acceptable sport of its own. It glorifies alcohol which I feel is very dangerous to our youth AND to many adults as well.

I have neither owned nor operated a restaurant so I cannot speak with complete authority, but from a financial perspective it seems to me that for any food establishment to make money it will need to either turnover tables, i.e., have many seatings or sell a lot of food or drinks to the same people. At a recent Shabbos lunch, I was asked what’s the difference between having a drink over dinner at a restaurant or having a drink at a sports bar? The answer is none…except that someone who goes out to dinner may have one or at most two glasses of wine or beer. My own experience is that when buddies get together to watch a game the number of drinks increases as you sit there for two or three hours.

I did not grow up in a traditional Orthodox home. When I was in my 20s I started hanging out at a local pub in Queens that a college friend of mine invited me to. When I went, I had considerably more than one or two drinks. I was a big eater, but I could not eat for two to three hours so if we were not drinking, the bar was not making money.

Unfortunately, I have a close relative who is an alcoholic. She has been in rehab more than once. I visited her during one of her stints and had the opportunity to sit in on a group meeting where the new patients for the week introduced themselves. This 30-minute session made a big impression on me as I saw productive members of society (from all walks of life), one after another, tell their brief story of how their addiction ruined or nearly ruined their lives and their families’ lives. Unfortunately, there were also a few younger people–upper teens and twenties–whose lives were derailed before they could enjoy a happier and more meaningful life.

Until this place opens up and makes its own history, we will not know if granting a hashgacha was a mistake or not. The success or lack of success of the restaurant will be easier to assess in the near term. It may take longer to see the effects on the people and our community.

By the way, if this person granting this hashgacha thinks there is no problem here, then I suggest that we all get together to open up a similar place in his community.

And don’t get me started on Kiddush clubs.

Phillip I. Hyman
Bergenfield

To the Editor:

I was dismayed by your newspaper’s fawning front-page advertorial on the imminent opening of The Doghouse.

To use the front page of a Jewish community paper to promote the opening of a “kosher” bar is ludicrous. The triumphant tone of the article tosses aside the feelings of many in the community (both modern and “frummy”) who don’t approve of the idea, and completely ignores the fact that both the RCBC and the OU declined giving hashgachah on principle. Where is the respect for, or even acknowledgement of, their position?

The world-renowned Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski, one of the most prominent members of our community, wrote recently in this very paper: “Young lives are ruined and families are being shattered by the irresponsible use of alcohol…. A kosher bar, where people can assemble to drink, is giving the diametric opposite message.Youngsters emulate grownups. We should not promote drinking by having a kosher bar.”

Yet your article describes the bar as “an opportunity to fill a need for the community.” With all due respect to those who must conduct business over alcohol, watch West Coast games without waking the wife, or offer their children a virgin daiquiri, some of us have a different view as to what a Jewish community’s needs truly are. A bar is not one of them.

Srully Epstein
Bergenfield

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