Letter: Eateries that are hangouts should not have Hechsher renewed

To whom this may concern,

I’m not mentioning any specific eateries, because I’m not here to bash anyone.

I’m a simple mother who grew up out of town, and I’m in the Lakewood area for the summer.

When I went to pick up food at a local shop, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I literally had to double check the sign on the store to make sure I had the right address. Because I was greeted by a group of teens, boys and girls, standing outside smoking (don’t know what they were smoking, but it didn’t smell like regular smoke), talking extremely loud, and more. I left, and found myself a different place.

But it left me thinking. Is a Rav’s Hechsher on a shop only for the food? What about the Kashrus of the Ruchniyus of a place? Why is that okay? If boys and girls want to hang out, let them find a bar or some other place to party, but when it’s done in our faces, how does it allow for a store to maintain its Hechsher when there’s Treif around the facility? Treif isn’t only for our bodies, it’s for our Neshamos too.

I hope a Rav reads this and takes actions to rectify this. I believe if a Hechsher was removed from one place, they and others would quickly make sure they are in compliance with the Hechsher rules.

A visitor.

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  1. Yes the hechsher is only for the food. Now move on…..

    If the hechsher would be for the ruchnius, there is no end in sight…

    The solution isn’t to pull the hashagacha. Maybe speak to the owner and tell him how u feel or don’t patronize that eatery.

  2. Dear letter writer,

    It’s very possible that one of those hanging out there was a child of mine. I’m actually very thankful that this child is at a kosher eaterie rather than a treife restaurant or bar.
    On behalf of the parents of said children I would like to apologize that they offended your frum sensitivities.
    I’m glad our beautiful town is able to provide an exciting summer for you and your family. Please continue to enjoy the rest of your vacation!!
    Hatzlacha Rabbah

    • This is beautiful and exactly how I would respond to such a letter. Out of town usually has a Rov that everyone listens to/closer community standards than what Lakewood is today. And that’s beautiful in it’s own right. But you’re visiting and have no idea what it is like to raise teenagers here… And I too am happier for them to be at a kosher “hangout” instead of a bar! These are not 21 year olds, these are usually high school aged kids. Have some rachmanus and say some tehillim that these kids grow up and out of the desire to hang out.

  3. This is very complicated…. On one hand, kids who are struggling need a kosher place to hang out, and on the other hand, families that patronize kosher eateries don’t want that type if environment, especially with their kids. Perhaps there are askonim who can organize and fund safe fun places for the kids that need it.

  4. Maybe you can say “at least the kids are still hanging around kosher & local eateries!”

    Why are you sending our troubled teens into more trouble?!

    Instead of waiting for a “Rav” to do something why don’t YOU be the catalyst for change?

    Maybe you can warmly invite them to a local gym & have entertainment & food waiting for them?

    Maybe as a visitor you don’t really know what’s going on around here … If it disturbs you so much you can vacation somewhere else.

  5. I don’t agree. Because I look at things a little differently. I’m happy they are eating kosher. Furthermore were talking about someone else’s parnassa. Don’t mess!! Nobody chooses to have their store as a hangout, trust me. Daven for these neshamos instead. That would be more proactive.

  6. I think the author makes a very very strong foint. This is mamish not what Rav Ahron and the mashgiach had in mind. Rabbosai, we could do better.

      • If you want to talk about the mashgiach and Rav Aharon zt”l, how about doing so with regard to the general proliferation of gashmiyis in Lkwd. Do you live in a Yeshiva apartment like Reb Yerucham shlita or a house like Reb Yisroel shlita? All of the sudden when it comes to teen in pain, we decide to talk about the old days. There was a lot more to the old days than no eateries.

    • Clairvoyant? Then maybe you can see into all those Yiddish neshamos that are eating kosher instead of their, want that we should see them. Are waiting for a good word. Throwing them out is not gonna do any good for them, you, or the community. As I’m sure you know, as a Clairvoyant.

  7. It’s very unfortunate what is going on in this town and other towns as well.

    I don’t think the Rav should take off the HECHSHER, but what I do think is, the Rav should try to get a hold of these YIDISHE CHILDREN THAT ARE HURTING AND TRY TO BEING THEM BACK.


    Don’t forget that there is a story behind each one of these GOOD CHILDREN, and we have to tap into what’s bothering them, and figure out how we can help them.

    If they are at a Kosher restaurant, we can approach them nicely and maybe try to help them.

    We need everyone to help out, yes I mean everyone, so maybe this will come to an end.

    By going strong on these good NESHAMOS, WE WILL GET NO WHERE.

    I am talking from experience.

  8. Hi and welcome to Lakewood!

    The askonim, rabbonim, and hechsherim are well aware.

    There is a much bigger picture which you aren’t seeing. Enjoy your short visit, and don’t get involved in the one small peice of the picture that you saw.

    If you want to learn about the bigger picture and how you can help, reach out to the askanim involved.
    Anyone who lives locally can tell you who those people are.

  9. What’s the issue? You left and found a different place. The marvels of a free market… one can make a choice as to where to eat. You don’t need a vaad to assur any place. You go where you feel comfortable and others go where they feel comfortable. No need to ban anything or anyone.

  10. You come to our town with very close minded thoughts. Do you think if you don’t see these kids it’s better? BH they are hanging near a kosher eatery and in all probability the owner is trying (quietly) to be there for these struggling kids. It’s great that they have a safe place to hang. Maybe daven for them? Or try to smile at them, and offer to pay for their meals. Running away from them and/or banning them from being places doesn’t help anyone, it just makes things worse.
    And if you don’t see these kids hanging around in your town, it’s because they send many of these precious kids here to Lakewood, where we have many resources to help them, not because they don’t exist in your out of town community.

  11. what am I missing here? what should the restaurant do?? these kids need a place to go, parents and schools need to help these kids!

    how about we put let pressure on our children in school?

    why do boys in 7th and 8th grade need to learn on a 3rd year BM LEVEL? THEY COME HOME 9-10 PM IN HIGH SCHOOL EVERY NIGHT??!!!




  12. Wow what a great idea! Have the mashgiach threaten the restaurant, and just have the restaurant kick out the kids!! Great solution!! For you. And what about those kids? You think that idea will help bring them any more love of Yiddishkeit and the people who represent it? Or maybe if you push them out even more and more, maybe they will get even more turned off. If you don’t enjoy said Place, there’s are others that aren’t hangouts. Just think for a second. It’s someone else child.

  13. Hashgachas on restaurants should be for FOOD ONLY! A hasgacha mashgiach is not a yeshiva mashgiach and should not be telling a restaurant what types of people they should serve. End of story

  14. My friend tells me that the intensity of the lakewood mesivta system works. Must be kids form a different community where yeshiva ends at 2 or 3 pm on sundays

  15. Kudos to the letter writer for having a kosher sensitivity. Unfortunately, we all are aware that this sensitivity brought her to a terrible conclusion. Perhaps she’s unaware that when the tzadik Yussi made a statement after these suffering neshamos got out of hand, he was bashed by so many people. There’s also the very valid point that they are better off at a kosher eatery than the alternative (it’s not like they’re going to a Bais Medrash instead). A kosher sensitivity with a tendency to jump to rash conclusions means that the solution is to wreck someone’s parnossa.

  16. Thank you Rav Hamachshir for keeping the food kosher for our children who don’t necessarily care enough and may end up hanging out and eating treif otherwise.

    Thank you to the restaurant owner for not throwing our teens away, to keep some visiting guests happy.

    Thank you to the letter writer for caring about the kashrus of our community. We understand this isn’t the most ideal situation, but what if your child or nephew were so sadly a part of that group, and you would have bumped into him on your visit. Would you feel the same? What if you hashgacha mixed into other kinds of kashrus, do you think this wouldn’t lead to a lot more issues like checking shaitels, collar lines, skirt lengths, pants tightness, etc…

  17. This is an old issue and the judging on responses from the locals they seem to have not changed. I was once speaking with Rav Gavriel Finkel Z”L around 18 years ago when someone came to him with the same suggestion to remove the hashgocha from a store. His response (I’m paraphrasing) was ” he didn’t see the issue it’s better they hang out at a kosher establishment, otherwise who knows where they would be” If I recall correctly I believe he asked the person if he would prefer they hang out in Atlantic City.

  18. Gratified and relieved to see so many beautiful replies.
    My thoughts:
    1.hechsher is for food. Not a tool for control. אין לדבר סוף!
    2. Would we want them hanging out in shadier venues ח’ו?

  19. This is the oldest question in the book. Is the hechser in the ambience of the restaurant or strictly the food? I remember a couple years back there being a story with a certain performer at a Brooklyn restaurant. The hashgacha threatened to pull if she performed. This is completely different because these are OUR children. Keep the hechser and props to all the restaurant owners who welcome these kids!

    • Now please read your comment while looking in the mirror… there can always be a respectful way of voicing your opinion. Your hateful response is not in that category.

  20. to hire mall security is a whole lot simpler and much more effective than removing a Hechsher on any food establishment that is providing a vital service to the community

  21. אורח לרגע רואה כל פגע.
    Paraphrased, this aphorism means people who come for a short time only notice whats wrong.
    And not whats right! You didn’t see that often mingling among these kids are mentors who are there to A. Monitor . B. Give chizuk and encouragement.
    So go home and eat your pizza with a happy heart now that you have expressed your protest . But please read the responses so that the next time you see the hangouts, you will view them with a kindly, more informed eye.

  22. You need to sit down and have a serious discussion with a competent rov…all these kids are eating kosher food. All three kids are in the company of other yiddishe kinderlach. They’re all in a plainly visible setting. They’re trying to make a statement. Accept them. Befriend them. Be mekarev these lost souls. Why would you penalize the establishment’s owner? Congrat him. Would you prefer they hang out at Macdonalds? Seriously? SMH

  23. Actually I know these kids well

    We have a rabbi that’s supervises the kids there

    Just thank hashem your kids are frum and maybe give some chisuk to these kids that are struggling really hard…

    Smile at them.. say a nice word or 2 it can change there lives

    No we don’t want them away from home that store is doing a big mizvah by hosting them keep your kids close to you!

  24. you really smart person . if we take away their hechsher hangouts will continue happening but in non kosher places. maybe think before you wright .

  25. Well it all comes to the old saying….. if you don’t like it here then you can leave. Literally no one asked for your opinion on how lakewood should be ran ( especially since you don’t even live here). You obviously don’t understand why there are places where these people hang out. It’s because the rabbonim and top therapists of lakewood would rather they hang out there where they would have some supervision instead of going elsewhere and getting into more trouble. Smoking!!!!!!????? You clearly don’t know how teenagers are these days. Why are you so shocked? This has been going on for years already. There is absolutely nothing wrong with teens hanging out, smoking, and talking loudly, that’s what teenagers do. I have teenagers myself and that’s what they do, and I definitely would not appreciate someone telling me how to raise my kids. And for the issue of the hechsher… ARE YOU CRAZY. What does this “issue” have to do with the hashgacha of the store. So first live in lakewood for a few years then come back and maybe people will consider your garbage complaints. Stop being a karen.

  26. Wow I’m honestly so disappointed that right after Tisha baav I’m reading a post bashing other jewish boys and girls…my friend let me tell you a lesson
    Hate never beats hate…only love can be hate…these kids have been hated on instead of hating perhaps show some love, offer to buy them dinner, or even give them a smile and say wussup humans are hardwired for connection and you have the opportunity to give that to others hatzlacha

    • You said: “… These kids have been hated on …”
      “hated on”??? … Why are you using Ebonics?
      (“hated on” is not English, please learn English.)

      • It is a colloquially utilized expression in common vernacular. There are plenty of similar terminologies which over time became accepted as proper language. Ever heard of Googling something?

        But as a side note, you seem a bit overly perturbed by this individuals vocabulary and syntax. Is everything ok? Anything we can help with?

  27. Right on. Removing a hechsher is playing with someone’s livelihood. I think it would be best if the author of this letter vacations elsewhere.

  28. Many years ago, Ateres Tziporah opened their school on Motzaei Shabbos for a supervised basketball game for their students free of charge. It usually was a parent that watched the game. It was excellent. Kept my daughters busy on the long Motzaei Shabbosos. Maybe the girls need a healthy outlet. I don’t know of any free ones. Maybe that would be a good idea in these days as well. Maybe a high school can open their gym for basketball games so the girls can have a safe hangout. Boys have avos ubanim in the winter and girls have nothing. If they had basketball (or some other idea) and pizza or no pizza, their Motzaei Shabbosos might not feel so boring.

  29. Dear Visitor,
    Rather than coming here and saying dayis.
    I am sure there is enough you can correct in your self, home or town!
    Keshot atzmecho!

  30. I must say that I have tears in my eyes reading all the responses.

    Everyone and I mean everyone loves these children.

    That’s amazing.

    Why do they love them? Because they are HASHEMS CHILDREN.

    Let’s all try to be extra nice to these children when we see them wherever they might be.

    You never know how far a good word can go!!!

    I bet you that most of these children didn’t hear a good word about them in ages!!!

    Let’s all do what we can, and you will see that it will make a tremendous difference.

  31. Sometimes kids need tough love. Everyone walking by should spit at them and scream “Shiksa” & “Shaigetz” I heard 1 in a 1,000 times it works.

  32. i agree with the comments here. To your own children you can express what heartfelt rachmanus you and your children should have towards these kids. and to yourself say a bracha that you don t have this nisayon (at this time) with your own children. and to those who are hanging out, greet them with a warm hello, and perhaps offer them some extra fries. We all stood at har sinai together. its time we show these “estranged” kids that they are accepted and welcome so they will want to come back and be part of our family.

  33. As a sister to some of those struggling teens ill tell you this, thank gd theyre in a kosher establishment with supervision. If it was your sibling/ child would u want them in some basement somewhere doing drugs? You should be ashamed of yourself after Tisha bav judging other people and publicly bashing kosher food establishments . You’re not from here and im glad you arent, go back home and maybe do some vidui, its almost Elul and you have some repenting to do. As if we don’t know whats going on in our town. Its because of people like you.

  34. Who do you think you are to decide who goes and eat at any shop or restaurant? If its not your place, you have no say. Just bug off and bounce from town!

  35. You said: “… These kids have been hated on …”
    “hated on”??? … Why are you using Ebonics?
    (“hated on” is not English, please learn English.)

  36. No one here addressed another issue- there are establishments here in Lakewood that have a great crowd during the year but during the summer people come from other communities and create issues locally. It’s not anything the restaurant can control- and it isn’t a Lakewood crowd of people who would be helped by other activities or events going on simultaneously. Perhaps that is what the individual who wrote this letter experienced.

  37. I’m shocked people think this is only a problem in Lakewood. Sadly, every town has struggling children; they just hang out at 7-11 instead of at a kosher restaurant. And, I’ll tell you what I do when I see groups of teens at a local eatery: I try to find 1 guy who I vaguely recognize, give him a big hello & a hug – that does a lot more than your negativity and walking away.
    Hatzlocha rabbah ! Enjoy the rest of your stay !!

  38. Kids are OTD or borderline OTD because they feel rejected by a school system and a community that makes them beg and twist themselves into hashkafic pretzels to be accepted. Don’t reject them more, introduce yourself and ask them about themselves, give them hope that once they see how empty the drugs and rebellion are, that they have a safe and warm place to come back to and call home.

  39. once i ventured out of Lakewood and got a closer look at real shkatzim and real shiktzas and when i came back in to Lakewood and saw these wonderful fine kids in the street i wanted to scream out how beautiful they are! and each and every one is CURRENTLY making a huge Kiddush HaShem as they grow and learn to tackle life’s challenges, they and we are all wonderful, loveable, and are all eagerly waiting the future that Hashem has promised to all of us. don’t take my word on this, read the beginning of the Sefer Tomer Devorah and you will feel better when you are done.

  40. A real answer to your question as to whether the hechsher is on the food or the environment – yes, many hashgachos will not give a hechsher to places whose atmosphere is not in line with Jewish sensitivities. That includes waiters dressed inappropriately, inappropriate music playing, and more. However, these are all things which the proprietor is in charge of and can control. The clientele, especially the people hanging out outside, are not within the owners domain to manage. It’s easy to make a dress code for wait staff, and extremely difficult to do so for customers. Most hechsherim will not make their certification contingent on something outside of the owner’s dominion, as long as the food and what is in the owner’s hands is kosher.

    A slight editorial on the thoughts regarding the children who you thought were conducting themselves on a mannerism as to warrant removal of the establishment’s kosher certification: At the beginning of covid, there was a joke going around regarding North Korea being the one country supposedly unaffected by covid. The joke was that at 9:01 AM there was 1 case reported in the country. By 9:02 AM there were 0 cases.
    Yes, if we want a picture perfect community we can shoot every kid and individual that doesn’t fit perfectly into the image we’d like to display. It would possibly be effective, if photogenicics are our goal. However, would you really consider that a success? What parent throws their kids out of their lives the second they put a toe out of line? We are klal yisroel, כי לא ידח ממנו נדח.

    Any taanis which doesn’t have individuals “from the fringe” participating is not a taanis, as we learn from the חלבנה in the Ketores. As a Torah community, throwing everyone out who doesn’t perfectly fit the desired mold is remarkably incongruous with our religion.

    Our mission is not to increase the stigmatization and shoving under the rug of all issues that may reflect the actual visicitudes and challenges of real life and real chinuch. Be from the solution, not the problem.

  41. I usually think that people on forums and comment sections go overboard in jumping onto the bandwagon to bash someone. However, for once, I was pretty happy to see the near universal expression of condemnation for the submitter’s implied attitude (which is likely just ignorance and a letter that came out wrong, not cruelty – I’m sure the writer is a compassionate mother and wonderful person), and the support for our struggling youth.

  42. Maybe what’s needed is a hechsher on your view of the world, thinking that you can “protect” yourself from anything you don’t like. These are yiddishe nashomos that need love and caring. If you can’t be one to give it to them then maybe stay under your rock.
    I apologize to all those that won’t like my tone but this letter writer is either extremely young or very judgemental. I’m kind of short of patience regarding this topic of non acceptance of anyone who doesn’t comport themselves with “our standards”. Maybe if people were kind and warm before this kids got to this stage, then maybe they wouldn’t be where they are now. If people would hear who these kids are inside the world would be a different place. And it’s not contagious, you aren’t protecting your family by pushing these kids (or anything else you deem not appropriate or to your standards) under a rock.

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