Updated 07:27 AM EST, Tue, Nov 24, 2020

Kosher-Only Fast-Food Restaurant Opens in Ecuador

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A new fast-food joint has started operations in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The restaurant's opening is particularly note-worthy, since it is believed to be the only Ecuadorian diner to exclusively serve kosher food.

Israeli restaurateur Ofir Belaishe had been serving homemade shawarma to his kashrut-observant Jewish friends in Guayquil since 2012. He said he decided to open Kosher Pita Grill to provide a convenient place for the local Jews to eat. Approximately 30 Jewish families living in the area will benefit from Belaishe's Middle Eastern entrees, per Times of Israel.

According to Kosher Certification, kosher food is a strict set of edible items devout Jews are allowed to eat. The laws of Kashrus, which roughly translates to "pure" in English, is an all-encompassing religious directive that guides the Jewish citizenry on what to and what not to consume.

The only kinds of meat devout Jews are only allowed to eat are cattle, cows, bulls, sheep, goats, lambs and any other animal that chews cud and walks on cloven hooves. Animals that meet only one of those criteria are forbidden.

Poultry animals permitted by the Kashrus are chicken, goose, turkey and duck. Devout Jews can devour eggs so long as they do not contain blood and come from the aforementioned kosher birds. The same law applies to milk. Only milk from kosher animals can be drunk and it must not contain non-kosher additives.

With regards to fruits and vegetables, everything that grows on trees and in the soil is considered kosher, unless it has been infested with insects. Fruits from trees that are not older than three years old should not be eaten. All marine life that has fins and scales can be eaten, but not those that have shell skins like lobsters and shrimp.

Wine drinking is generally prohibited, since wine was often used to appease pagan gods in the ancient times. However, kosher regulations have become relatively lenient over time, but are still stringent for most Jews.

My Jewish Learning reported that devout Jews can only drink wine if it has passed all the necessary kosher requirements. Only wines from grapes that have been harvested, pressed, fermented, clarified and bottled by Shabbat-observant Jews are deemed as kosher.

The demanding nature of the kosher lifestyle truly puts even the most religious of Jews to the test, but it's also one that truly fulfills those who astutely conform to it.

As for the newly-opened kosher restaurant in Guayaquil, some of its patrons said Kosher Pita Grill also welcomes non-Jewish customers.

"The restaurant is not intended for Jews only," Shahar Matza clarified. "Some people get here thinking it's one more ordinary fast-food house."

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