'Kosher Day' Cooks up Treats for the Body and Soul
Chabad of the Tri-Valley helps shoppers keep kosher in Pleasanton

Chabad of the Tri-Valley, an organization focused on education and awareness of the Jewish faith, sponsored its first annual "Kosher Day" at 10 different supermarkets around the Tri-Valley on Wednesday, July 12.

At Raley's supermarket, in Pleasanton, a kosher table was set up directly behind the registers, complete with an assortment of everyday kosher foods, pamphlets on kosher fitness and a raffle for a kosher cookbook.

"There were a lot of curious people," said Rivka Rosenfeld, one of a team of 50 teenage volunteers who manned the tables that afternoon. Rosenfeld is part of a group of young women, students from the East Coast, traveling on a six week program from San Diego to Seattle. The group visited tourist destinations during their stay in the Bay Area, but were here to primarily get acquainted with Jewish communities across the West Coast.

Director of Chabad of the Tri-Valley and coordinator of Kosher Day, Rabbi Raleigh Resnick, said, "The girls came back on a high." While the tables were up in the morning, the girls were only there for three hours and saw an average of about 10 people per hour. Resnick estimated that 300 visitors stopped at the 10 locations during those hours, but was more excited to see the outstanding results of how many people wanted to learn more.

The curious shoppers who managed to take a minute at the table found a plethora of information regarding kosher foods and its presence in the average grocery store. The purpose of Kosher Day was not only to get the community to realize the availability of kosher foods, but also to show the Tri-Valley's supermarkets how advantageous it would be to have more kosher food in its stores.

In the pamphlet "Your Guide to Kosher Foods," it read that more than 20,000 products, accounting for $1.5 billion in annual food sales, have been certified kosher since 1977. Today, about 40 percent of the shelves at a local supermarket are filled with kosher goods, according to the pamphlet.

"None of the prepared food is kosher, like the items at the deli or in the bakery, I'd assume it's less," Resnick said in regards to the percentage of kosher food sold at places like Raley's and other stores around town.

However, the concept of the kosher market being one of the fastest growing sectors in the food industry has prompted Resnick to schedule a meeting with Raley's manager. Resnick believes this meeting will be a stepping stone to bigger and better things for the Jewish community.

"Kosher Day has achieved its purpose and is really going to do a lot of good," he added.

More importantly are the physical and spiritual benefits of the kosher diet. "The Hebrew word 'Kosher' means 'fit,'" Resnick explained. "Aside from the health benefits, kosher food fine tunes one's mind and spirit."

For over 3,300 years, Jewish people have been providing sustenance for the body and spiritual elevation for the soul by eating a healthy kosher cuisine routinely. Kosher food follows certain guidelines to ensure a high quality of food as well as spiritual uplift through four major categories: meat and poultry, dairy, pareve, including neutral foods like fruits and vegetables, and trafe, "non-kosher" foods.

Simple suggestions like not mixing meat and milk and cutting out pork and shellfish were part of the success of Kosher Day's efforts to raise awareness. Next year's more ambitious agenda for Kosher Day is already in the works.

"We want to elevate it to a larger scale," Resnick concluded. "This year we had 50 girls and 10 stores, maybe next year we can disperse more people and we'll have 15."

To find out more about kosher food, visit Chabad of the Tri-Valley, 6101 Via De Los Cerros, Pleasanton or go to the Web site www.JewishTriValley.com.