Convention Ctr. goes kosher for Chabad wedding
Photos & Story By Marshall Weiss, The Dayton Jewish Observer
If it wasn’t the first Chasidic wedding here, it was a rare occasion for Dayton when Sarah Mangel married Rabbi Henoch Rosenfeld on the balmy evening of June 12.
Sarah is the oldest daughter of Chabad of Greater Dayton Directors Rabbi Nochum and Devorah Mangel. Henoch is the youngest son of Rabbi Yisroel and Blumi Rosenfeld, directors of Chabad of Western Pennsylvania, based in Pittsburgh.
The 520 guests, separated by gender, roared a hearty “mazel tov” at the end of the ceremony, when Henoch stomped on the glass under the chupah (wedding canopy) at downtown’s Dave Hall Plaza, adjacent to the Dayton Convention Center.
From there, the guests — including hundreds of Chabadniks from around the world — would sit down to a kosher dinner at the Convention Center.
This was a first for the Convention Center, the only facility in the area large enough to accommodate the celebration — and that was willing to go through the process of kashering its kitchen.
“They asked me if I could do it, and of course, you don’t say no,” said John Reice, executive sous chef of Ovations, the caterer for the Convention Center. “We don’t say no to anything.”
Reice, who is not Jewish, was raised in New York.
“There were a lot of Jewish people in the neighborhood,” he said. “So it’s not strange to me. And one of my best friends, he’s a chef — he’s Jewish — he’s been advising me.”
Chabad of Greater Dayton’s Rabbi Shmuel Klatzkin served as mashgiach (kosher supervisor) for the project, assisted by Rabbi Levi Simon, also of Dayton’s Chabad.
Over the weekend prior to the wedding, Ovations staff cleaned out its vast kitchen, pulled unnecessary equipment off the floor, and rotated its stock to dedicate one walk-in refrigerator and freezer for kosher items.
Reice met with his staff to explain the logistics and emphasized that once the kitchen was ready for kashering, they were to bring no other food into the kitchen. He posted signs on all kitchen entrances that read, “Kosher Kitchen. No outside items without being checked by kitchen staff!”
“You can see why I like this guy,” Klatzkin said.
On the morning of June 10, Klatzkin and Simon arrived and took a blow torch to ovens, grills and other kitchen equipment to make them kosher. They also kashered the Convention Center’s silverware, pots, pans and utensils, dipping them in a vat of boiling water.
“Because of the size of the kitchen, the resources they have here, we’re able really to make it almost like it’s a dedicated thing, with everything else off to the side and it becomes a much simpler sort of thing,” Klatzkin said. “You don’t have to worry that there’s (non-kosher) stuff right in reach that we can grab.”
Klatzkin said his goal as mashgiach was to keep it as simple as possible for the kitchen staff, “so nobody’s having to think a lot about anything other than food prep.”
Reice said Ovations also got the OK from the city of Dayton to purchase 560 dishes exclusively for kosher use.
“We’re going to lock them up, seal them so if we ever have another kosher event, we’ve got the plates ready and set,” Reice said. “They’re just a little different from the other plates just in case, for some reason, a box got opened. We’re more than welcome to have them come back again and re-kosher the kitchen. It will be a lot easier because now we’re more familiar with it and we’ll know what to get done.”
Reice’s menu for the dinner featured a salad with pickled cucumber curls and roasted salmon, honeydew melon soup with crystallized ginger, and Mediterranean chicken in a saffron broth. Appetizers included Caprese salad skewers with tofu instead of cheese, mushroom bruschetta, and a stir-fry served in champagne glasses.
With Klatzkin’s guidance, Reice ordered the kosher food products from outside suppliers Ovations doesn’t normally use.
“Most of the breads that we get in are kosher pareve to begin with, so we’re good with that,” Reice said.
Before dinner was served, guests launched into the wild frenzy of dancing for which Chasidism is known, separated by gender, as required in Orthodox Judaism by halacha (Jewish law).
Sarah and Henoch plan to become Chabad emissaries like their parents.