The Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is keeping it kosher for patients and their families.
The center, located on Chapin Parkway in Jamaica, formally opened its new completely kosher kitchen on Thursday, October 25.
“You have to look at the people in the community and cater to them,” said Margaret Tietz president and CEO Michael Fassler.
Fassler noted that the surrounding area is mainly Jewish, and that a completely kosher kitchen was in demand. After getting approval from the Department of Health, renovations began last summer.
Previously, the center’s kitchen housed two kosher and non-kosher sections. The roughly $200,000 renovation took down walls, rerouted ventilation and resulted three months later in a kitchen ready to cater to the Jewish patients and their families.
At Thursday’s opening, over 100 people from the community, along with distinguished rabbis and Legislators, enjoyed a kosher meal. City councilmembers, assemblymembers, area rabbis and the center’s executive staff gave speeches, speaking highly and warmly of the services that Margaret Tietz provides.
Fassler said that the move from a two-part kitchen to solely kosher was a gradual transition. The kosher kitchen has successfully been serving since September.
“We’ve had tremendous community support, and the chefs are really great,” said Fassler. “They can make a menu so that you don’t know if it’s kosher or not kosher.”
Joseph Seminaro, executive director for Margaret Tietz, echoed Fassler when he said that the kitchen was necessary to accommodate the community.
“We couldn’t accommodate their needs that well at first because we had a small area that was a kosher kitchen,” he said. As the census showed more Jewish representation in the neighborhood, the need for a kitchen as such grew as well.
However, the center also obliges non-kosher requests. If a patient does not wish to eat what the kitchen offers, the center will provide them with food from an outside facility, and a place to enjoy their meal as well.
“If someone wants a cheeseburger, we’ll get them a cheeseburger,” said Seminaro, referring to the kosher rule that disallows mixing meat and dairy.
“We bend over backwards to accommodate everyone’s needs,” said Seminaro. “That’s the important thing here.”