Shalom! Anyone heard of Golders Green or Stamford Hill in North London? Both London neighbourhoods are strictly Kosher but act in very different ways. I visited Lee Avenue in Brooklyn, NY during the summer of 2012 to experience an environment that was strictly Kosher! Leave the Halal because Golders Green and Stamford Hill only deal with the Kosher things in life.
I ventured to the 'frum' London neighbourhood of Stamford Hill first to see if Jewish life would be noticeable along the Broadway. Captured to the left is the busy intersection at the heart of Stamford Hill's busy Kosher businesses and daily life. If you look closely enough at the image to the left its easy to see the moms of Stamford Hill carry themselves in a strictly 'frum' manner, the term 'frum' means Kosher in the laws of fashion or clothing to be worn by practicing Jewish women. Contrary to belief Jewish mothers are said to the head of their households whether their husbands like it or not! I'm a stickler when it comes to taking photos for my blog publications so I tried my best to not act like the fool to capture the unique feel of Stamford Hill's lively Kosher Broadway. Jewish culture really interests me because I have a Jewish background, I love it! I wanted to give my Jewish day a good Zetz! OK skiksa?! Let's go!
How did I get to Stamford Hill? From my Southwark location I took the London Underground to Liverpool Street station to then take a East Anglia train bound for Stamford Hill, it was a mash of a journey but I got to where I wanted to be eventually. I had big ideas of eating potato kugel and chicken soup for dinner but the closest that I found in Stamford Hill was a Kosher Danish pastry from a bakery called Sharon's Bakery along the Broadway but I had faith in Jewish London so I didn't give up the fight! I felt a very religious vibe whilst walking around Stamford Hill, the walk from the train station showed me the Yesodey Hatorah Secondary School and a Jewish learning centre. It was like walking down Lee Avenue in Brooklyn, NY for the 'frum' mothers went about their business with their babies and children but Stamford Hill had Polish and Brazilian food stores, something that didn't appear in NYC. Stamford Hill definitely served Kosher realness through the style of the 'frum' mums.
The difference between Jewish New York and London is that the level of religious conviction conveyed in each respected neighbourhood? I would strongly keep to that belief. Introducing Golders Green, a part of London that screams Jewish London because its just got that popular ring to it. Whereas, stateside in Brooklyn, New York the Hasidim of Brooklyn go about their business in a fashion just like the Jewish community that I saw in Stamford Hill. Aside from my Kosher Danish Pastry I came across Berry's Kosher mini-supermarket that reminded me of Frankel's Grocery on Lee Avenue in Jewish Williamsburg. The nature of Golders Green is quite cosmopolitan with a blend of cafes, restaurants and bakeries that are all strictly Kosher! I don't know what made Lee Avenue feel so intense but it gave me the feeling that religious Jewish communities choose to stick with their own close knit circle of people. Oy vey skiksa!
Why do I have such an interest in the Jewish culture and things Kosher? I have Jewish ancestry on my paternal side of my family, I know that branch of my family made a journey from Eastern European. I've always had an interest in how things are deemed to be Kosher. I had my eye on Manchester to visit the Jewish neigbhourhood that sits north of the city centre but I had no other purpose going north for I spent almost two weeks in London so Stamford Hill and Golders Green posed to be the better two options. I'm not religious and by no means a part of the Jewish religion but I always pick up a bottle of Kosher grape juice from Tesco in Birmingham when I was a student. It will always intrigue me how a Rabbi can make something Kosher but that's my deeper reference to my motive for each of my Kosher trips to Jewish areas in England and NYC. I tried a can of Kosher apple juice that had Hebrew script on the can! Experience Jewish London!? Yes, I love Kosher chicken soup!
Leaving Stamford Hill I was in hot pursuit of Kosher chicken soup because its also known as 'Jewish Penicillin' I didn't have a cold but I just wanted a bowl for my dinner that day. Choosing Sami's Restaurant on Golders Green Road, I ordered one bowl of chicken soup with noodles and a glass of hot Ribena. The waitress thought I was crazy when I ordered two hot items to eat and drink because the weather was lovely, I wanted chicken soup and that was that! I patiently waited for my 'Jewish Penicillin' and hot Ribena, I was happy that Jewish London had came up with the goods but no potato kugel was on the menu at Sami's. I loved my Kosher dinner that June afternoon for I had crossed London for a special treat, I was very happy indeed. Whilst doing some research on Sami's I know now that the London Beth Din monitors all produce used by the restaurant adheres to Kosher law. I'm no Schmuck!
My quest to find a healthy serving of Jewish culture in London was successful! One thing I must add is that I went to Carmelli Kosher Bakery for a lovely Bagel! I went out of my way to return to Golders Green for that Kosher nosh! I want potato kugel! From Golders Green I saw a Kosher Indian restaurant, a sight to see for sure because I never knew something like that would exist! Stamford Hill served its proportion of 'frum' Jewish London with the busy Jewish Haredi or Hasidim women going about their business. Sharon's Bakery served me a nice Kosher Danish pastry like I mentioned earlier but I just had to make that point once again. Berry's showed me something that reminded me of my time in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at Frankel's Kosher Grocery where I found some cool Kosher refreshments. I travelled across London by train and tube to reach my desired destinations without any major disruptions so getting from one side of London to the other wasn't such a schelp! I'm hungry!
London! Keep It Kosher!