Keep kosher at Bradley

Rabbi Eli Langsam works with dining service staff to prepare kosher meals in University Hall.

September 1, 2010

When it comes to academics and activities, Bradley has something for everyone, and this year the university is taking a big step to extend that diversity to its food service. To better accommodate students, staff, and faculty who follow kashrut, the Jewish set of dietary rules, kosher sandwiches and salads are now served daily in the Williams Hall food court and at Outtakes in the Student Center.  Frozen entrees are available in all university dining facilities.

This addition to the university’s dining service is rapidly becoming a popular choice, even among non-Jews, but it also makes Bradley an even more attractive option for college-bound students across the country.

“All of a sudden, Bradley University will become a viable option for students who keep kosher. Because of our excellent programs in a variety of fields, an observant Jewish student can come here, and I believe that they will.  This is a case of, ‘If you build it, they will come,’” said Dr. Seth Katz, faculty advisor to Bradley University Hillel, the campus Jewish student organization.

The building process is indeed underway, and will soon revolutionize the university’s dining service. The kitchen in Geisert Hall will be renovated this school year to make way for two kosher workspaces. As the rules of kashrut dictate that meat and dairy products must never come into contact with each other, and the culinary tools used to prepare them must be kept separate, by next fall Geisert Hall will feature two kitchens designed for the sole purpose of cooking kosher meals—one for handling meat, the other for dairy products. Rabbi Eli Langsam, executive director of the Chabad Jewish Center of Peoria, will inspect and certify all the food prepared in the kosher kitchens.

“It’s an investment of time, energy, attention, and resources on the part of the university to ensure that the highest standard of kosher observance is maintained,” said Katz.

Freshman Emily Sabo said the kosher service not only accommodates dietary preferences, but also promotes social interaction among Jewish students.

“It gives us another opportunity to come together as a community, meet each other, and maintain our culture while on campus,” said Sabo.

Sabo is one student on campus who really can get a taste of home while attending Bradley. Her family owns Tel-Aviv Bakery in Chicago, which supplies the bread for the kosher sandwiches.

Director of dining services Ron Gibson says the kosher service is part of a larger Bradley mission to offer familiar, comfortable options at mealtime. As the kosher service grows, Gibson is prepared to make the food conveniently available across campus.

“Feedback from students will allow us to make the kosher foods available wherever they’re wanted. This is all about service, so if the students want them in a certain place, we’ll put them there,” said Gibson.

The university’s inclusive, accommodating spirit goes back to its pioneering founder, Lydia Moss Bradley, who established Bradley as an institution that would forever promote diversity of all kinds. Rabbi Langsam lauded the university for continuing to support that mission.

“By making the kosher service a priority, President Glasser and the Bradley dining staff have put Bradley on the map for Jewish students looking for a university. This is going to be a big factor in their decision,” said Langsam.



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