Tim Boxer: Providing For New York’s Hungry

New York Sate Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is amazed how Pomegranate, the ultramodern kosher supermarket in Brooklyn, has inspired so many kosher shoppers.

"My wife gets her Shabbos food there every Friday," he told me.

Having made an impact on shoppers – with its valet parking, and aisles wide enough to navigate with a golf cart, never mind shopping cart – it’s no wonder that the store’s owner was one of four honorees recognized by Met Council.

At its inaugural Food for Life Campaign reception this month at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which raised $400,000, Met Council’s CEO William Rapfogel handed a community award to Pomegranate’s Abraham Banda.

In introducing Banda, culinary maven Arthur Schwartz told how amazed he was that Pomegranate has "real chefs in the back cooking the food. Even a sushi chef! Sushi has replaced gefilte fish in the Jewish home."

Although he doesn’t keep kosher, Schwartz said he goes to Pomegranate as often as he can. He’s impressed with the freshness of the food. "Every morning," he said, "Banda goes through the store and cleans out the prepared food and sends it to community groups to distribute to the poor."

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun presented Met Council’s Tikkun Olam Award to Central Synagogue, represented by Kenneth Heitner. John Doherty of Wolfpack Hospitality and former executive chef of the Waldorf-Astoria, received a humanitarian award.

In presenting a leadership award, in the form of a massive silver tzedaka box, to Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, Sheldon Silver noted that the company lost 11 employees on 9/11. "Within a year you were back in the Lower East Side, where I am a lifelong resident" Silver said.

Chenault praised Met Council for being a voice of the Jewish poor and providing food, housing and counseling to 120,000 people every year.

Tim Boxer is editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com.

About the Author
Tim Boxer is a former New York Post columnist, and is longtime columnist for the New York Jewish Week. He is also editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com, is the author of Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.