Jews and Muslims coexist at a kosher-halal bakery in Westhampton Beach

War is raging in the Middle East, but Westhampton Beach is an example of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Jews.

About five years ago, Rashid Sulehri, a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, bought the East End’s only kosher bakery and kept it kosher to serve the area’s Jewish population. He also made it halal so that Muslims can also eat there.

Tensions between Muslims and Jews have risen across the United States and the rest of the world, but the Beach Bakery & Grand Cafe has become a symbol of how groups can come together despite differences.

The cafe is a profound example of the ways Muslims and Jews can celebrate a spirit of cooperation, not conflict, said Rabbi Marc Schneier, who heads the Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach.

He is deeply involved in interfaith work both through the cafe and around the country and the world.

The example we set in Westhampton Beach is a true source of light that needs to shine in larger communities locally and across the United States, he said.

Sulehri said he has continued to build bridges between Muslims and Jews in his business, although the recent bloodshed has been the biggest challenge so far. A surprise attack by the militant group Hamas on October 7 killed approximately 1,200 Jews. More than 18,600 Palestinians have died in the Israeli counterattack in Gaza.

But Sulehri said the cafe remains an oasis where the conflict far away hasn’t broken the bonds the two communities are building.

International politics and warfare stay out of our community, he said. We shouldn’t worry about things that are out of our control.

We should all always think and focus on what we have in common instead of our differences, he added. One thing that is common, I see everywhere, everyone wants peace all over the world.

Schneier has made the cafe a home for special efforts to find common ground between groups in the midst of strife. Recently, he brought 35 Jewish college students from New York to a coffee shop to meet with Muslim leaders, including a prominent imam from Queens.

The two groups may not see the situation in Israel and Gaza the same way, he said, but they keep the conversation civil and respectful.

It’s been going well, Schneier said. We can agree to disagree without disagreeing. Didn’t intend to resolve the conflict

The Schneiers Synagogue also recently hosted a Hanukkah party in the cafeteria, which attracted about 90 Jews. One night, toward the end of the eight-day festival, a rabbi and a Muslim cafe owner lit a menorah candle together.

Muslims also gather at the cafe for major religious holidays, such as the Eid al-Fitr festival that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The bakery regularly hosts events at local synagogues and mosques in Suffolk County. It sells everything from Jewish and Turkish sweets to wraps and challah, a traditional Jewish bread.

There is no pork because eating it is forbidden by both kosher and halal restrictions, or no meat at all because observant Jews do not know how to combine meat and dairy products. There is also no alcohol, as practicing Muslims are prohibited from drinking.

The cafe’s entrance looks like an inviting old hotel, with a brown and white striped awning and a raised foyer with potted flowers. Inside is a large, cozy room with a long row of shiny glass cases displaying everything from cannolis to cakes and baked jelly croissants. Tables are scattered everywhere, where customers are away in the morning or afternoon drinking and chatting with friends.

In summer, the queues are outside.

While people try to talk about politics civilly, they also discuss things like real estate, the Hamptons scene and, of course, food, Sulehri said.

Long Island is home to an estimated 300,000 Jews and 100,000 Muslims, according to community leaders. Westhampton’s overall population swells in the summer, boosted by people taking day trips to the Hamptons.

Sulehri came to the United States from Pakistan in 1995 when she was 20 years old. He lived for several years in the Rockland County town of Monsey, which has a large Orthodox Jewish community. He also worked as a kosher sin college while studying at nearby Rockland Community College and learned the rules of keeping kosher.

He later moved to Long Island and opened Montauk Bake Shoppe and Villa Italian Specialties in East Hampton. When his realtor told him the cafe was up for sale and the local Jewish community was worried it wouldn’t stay kosher, he jumped at the chance.

According to both religions, the cafe has become a popular gathering place.

The Sulehris idea wasn’t just about making money or profit,” said Adnan Cinar, 33, a Muslim from Amityville who frequents the cafe with his family. “He wants to focus on communities. He is an ambassador of peace.

Shari Israel Zuckerman, a Jewish woman who lives in Westhampton Beach, is also a regular at the cafe.

“There hasn’t really been any friction, to the best of my knowledge, ever or especially now,” he said. It is a clear sign of hope that people will get along. Sometimes its fair governments, shall we say.

Schneier stated that Islam and Judaism have a lot in common, and hoped that the cafe’s example would spread more widely.

We lived in a bubble, he said. With all this Muslim-Jewish conflict raging around us, here in the Hamptons, in Westhampton Beach, it’s a love fest.

War is raging in the Middle East, but Westhampton Beach is an example of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Jews.

About five years ago, Rashid Sulehri, a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, bought the East End’s only kosher bakery and kept it kosher to serve the area’s Jewish population. He also made it halal so that Muslims can also eat there.

Tensions between Muslims and Jews have risen across the United States and the rest of the world, but the Beach Bakery & Grand Cafe has become a symbol of how groups can come together despite differences.

The cafe is a profound example of the ways Muslims and Jews can celebrate a spirit of cooperation, not conflict, said Rabbi Marc Schneier, who heads the Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach.

WHAT DO YOU KNOW

  • A bakery and cafe in Westhampton Muslim-owned, the only kosher business in the East End.
  • Beach Bakery & Grand Cafe serves the area has a large Jewish population and has become a symbol of Muslims and Jews living in peaceful coexistence.
  • One prominent local rabbi uses the cafeteria to host interfaith discussion sessions between Jewish college students and Muslim leaders.

He is deeply involved in interfaith work both through the cafe and around the country and the world.

The example we set in Westhampton Beach is a true source of light that needs to shine in larger communities locally and across the United States, he said.

Sulehri said he has continued to build bridges between Muslims and Jews in his business, although the recent bloodshed has been the biggest challenge so far. A surprise attack by the militant group Hamas on October 7 killed approximately 1,200 Jews. More than 18,600 Palestinians have died in the Israeli counterattack in Gaza.

But Sulehri said the cafe remains an oasis where the conflict far away hasn’t broken the bonds the two communities are building.

International politics and warfare stay out of our community, he said. We shouldn’t worry about things that are out of our control.

We should all always think and focus on what we have in common instead of our differences, he added. One thing that is common, I see everywhere, everyone wants peace all over the world.

Schneier has made the cafe a home for special efforts to find common ground between groups in the midst of strife. Recently, he brought 35 Jewish college students from New York to a coffee shop to meet with Muslim leaders, including a prominent imam from Queens.

The two groups may not see the situation in Israel and Gaza the same way, he said, but they keep the conversation civil and respectful.

It’s been going well, Schneier said. We can agree to disagree without disagreeing. Didn’t intend to resolve the conflict

The Schneiers Synagogue also recently hosted a Hanukkah party in the cafeteria, which attracted about 90 Jews. One night, toward the end of the eight-day festival, a rabbi and a Muslim cafe owner lit a menorah candle together.

Muslims also gather at the cafe for major religious holidays, such as the Eid al-Fitr festival that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The bakery regularly hosts events at local synagogues and mosques in Suffolk County. It sells everything from Jewish and Turkish sweets to wraps and challah, a traditional Jewish bread.

There is no pork because eating it is forbidden by both kosher and halal restrictions, or no meat at all because observant Jews do not know how to combine meat and dairy products. There is also no alcohol, as practicing Muslims are prohibited from drinking.

The cafe’s entrance looks like an inviting old hotel, with a brown and white striped awning and a raised foyer with potted flowers. Inside is a large, cozy room with a long row of shiny glass cases displaying everything from cannolis to cakes and baked jelly croissants. Tables are scattered everywhere, where customers are away in the morning or afternoon drinking and chatting with friends.

In summer, the queues are outside.

While people try to talk about politics civilly, they also discuss things like real estate, the Hamptons scene and, of course, food, Sulehri said.

Long Island is home to an estimated 300,000 Jews and 100,000 Muslims, according to community leaders. Westhampton’s overall population swells in the summer, boosted by people taking day trips to the Hamptons.

Sulehri came to the United States from Pakistan in 1995 when she was 20 years old. He lived for several years in the Rockland County town of Monsey, which has a large Orthodox Jewish community. He also worked as a kosher sin college while studying at nearby Rockland Community College and learned the rules of keeping kosher.

He later moved to Long Island and opened Montauk Bake Shoppe and Villa Italian Specialties in East Hampton. When his realtor told him the cafe was up for sale and the local Jewish community was worried it wouldn’t stay kosher, he jumped at the chance.

According to both religions, the cafe has become a popular gathering place.

The Sulehris idea wasn’t just about making money or profit,” said Amityville native Adnan Cinar, 33, a Muslim who frequents the cafe with his family. “He wants to focus on communities. He is an ambassador of peace.

Shari Israel Zuckerman, a Jewish woman who lives in Westhampton Beach, is also a regular at the cafe.

“To the best of my knowledge, there hasn’t really been any friction ever and certainly not now,” he said. It is a clear sign of hope that people will get along. Sometimes its fair governments, shall we say.

Schneier stated that Islam and Judaism have a lot in common, and hoped that the cafe’s example would spread more widely.

We lived in a bubble, he said. With all this Muslim-Jewish conflict raging around us, here in the Hamptons, in Westhampton Beach, it’s a love fest.

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