The Landwer café located in Independence Park near downtown Jerusalem has agreed not to open on Shabbat after haredim threatened to pull the kosher certification from Landwer Coffee, a separate company founded by the same family but now completely separate from the café chain.
Haredim Extort Business Owner To Force Café To Close On Shabbat
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The Landwer café located in Independence Park near downtown Jerusalem has agreed not to open on Shabbat after haredim threatened to pull the kosher certification from Landwer Coffee, a separate coffee roasting company founded by the same family but which for decades has been completely separate from the café chain, Ha’aretz reported.
The city government has been trying to open a café there for several years, and it recently awarded the franchise to the Landwer café chain in part withthe understanding that the café operate on Shabbat, something the city’s secular residents wanted. The owners agreed.
But the café’s owners backed down, agreed to make the café kosher, and agreed to close it on Shabbat after Badatz Yerushalayim, the kosher supervision organization run by the vehemently anti-Zionist Edah Haredit umbrella organization, extorted them by threatening to remove its kosher seal from the completely separate coffee roasting company.
The two companies, while started by the same family more than 50 years ago, have for many years owned by different family members.
Landwer Coffee reportedly needs the Badatz Yerushlayim kosher seal largely to sell coffee to El Al Israel Airlines, Israel’s national air carrier, which wants the seal on coffee and certain other food products it serves because it is acceptable to many haredi travelers. And while many non-haredim oppose what Edah Haredit stands for, they won’t refuse to consume food products supervised by it, meaning moderate kosher supervisions suffer. In turn, so does Landwer café and secular Israelis.
Additionally, it has been believed for years that the riots and street demonstrations against the government, against purported grave desecration, or after the arrest of certain haredi criminals (the “starving mother riots, for example), and on other occasions are paid for out of proceeds earned by Edah Haredit’s kosher supervision service.
According to Ha’aretz, for the past few days haredi newspapers have run ads signed by Badatz Yerushalayim’s kashrut committee explicitly threatening Landwer Coffee.
“For the sanctity of Shabbat, regarding the rumor of a plan to open Landwer cafés in massive violation of Shabbat, heaven help us, we are making a last minute appeal to anyone who can prevent this destructive breach of Shabbat in the holy city of Jerusalem. If this plan, heaven forbid, is implemented, we will be forced to end our [kashrut] supervision of the Landwer Coffee company,” the ads reportedly read.
Haredi sources told Ha’aretz haredi activists negotiated with Landwer for several weeks without clear success. But when Badatz Yerushalayim issued its threat against Landwer Coffee, Landwer Coffee’s owner “threw his whole weight” behind the effort to persuade his relatives’ café chain to give in to haredi demands.
This is almost certainly extortion under Israeli law, but because the ruling coalition needs haredi political parties to stay in power, it is unlikely the government or police will do anything to stop it.