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The Killing of Kosher Kroger

April 13, 2022

Haddy the Hebrew: Mourning Kosher Kroger

By Hadass Galili | For The Post

Kosher products, especially meat, can be difficult to come by for those of us living in Athens, Ohio. In Ohio cities with a substantially observant population, like Cleveland or Cincinnati, this is not as much of an issue.

In Cleveland, for example, my family can go to a local Heinen’s, Costco or a local kosher butcher to get meat for our meals. There are even kosher restaurants that serve meat, a huge convenience if we cannot cook that day for whatever reason. In Athens, there are no such luxuries for observant Jews, but there were workarounds. Most often, a kosher meat meal would require a trip to Columbus, but now that option is no more.

In order to explain why kosher meat is a challenge to obtain, I must explain what “kosher” is. For something to be kosher by Jewish law, it has to follow a certain set of guidelines that Jews have been following for centuries. For kosher meat specifically, only certain animals like cows or chickens can be eaten, and those animals have to be killed a certain way, hence the need for kosher butchers. You may have heard some basic rules, like how pigs and shrimp aren’t kosher, or how meat and dairy are not to be mixed, but those are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to certifying a food as kosher.

So what happened to make kosher meat even harder to buy? The loss of “Kosher Kroger,” a Kroger located in Whitehall, which is a suburb of Columbus. While the actual Kroger itself did not close —although, for those of us kosher-keepers, it may as well have — the store underwent a dramatic change recently in the fall of 2021, during which the kosher options were drastically limited.

While certified pre-packaged foods are still available in the Whitehall Kroger, the kosher companies, which were made up by a kosher bakery and sushi stand as well as a vast majority of the meat section, has been totally removed. “Kosher Kroger” also went through an exterior makeover, with the white letters that once read “KOSHER” above its entrance being removed to reflect the downfall of the certified component.

Moving to Athens so that I could attend Ohio University was a big shift for me. I experienced something of a culture shock when I came here and found that not only were there no kosher restaurants, there was also hardly any kosher food at all — and definitely no kosher meat. My only respite became Chabad, where all of the food served was prepared under careful supervision and all the food that was bought was certified kosher.

Now, with the end of “Kosher Kroger,” Chabad is left without kosher sushi and has to find alternative ways to find kosher meat for the almost daily meals it provides to students. Methods like buying in bulk from Cleveland, making trips out to Pittsburgh, ordering online and even getting meat from New York have all been experimented with either in thought or in practice, but there is no getting around the massive blow that Whitehall Kroger has dealt to its kosher-keeping customers.

Hadass Galili is a junior studying political science pre-law at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hadass by tweeting her at @HadassGalili.

AUTHOR: Hadass Galili
EDITOR: Mikayla Rochelle
COPY EDITOR: Anna Garnai