Broken promise: Qatar bans cooked kosher food, public Jewish prayer during World Cup

Jewish organizations told The Jerusalem Post that Qatar is forbidding kosher cooked food for Jewish visitors to the international football tournament.

By World Israel News Staff

Despite earlier promises to the contrary, Qatar is preventing Jewish visitors to the FIFA World Cup from attaining kosher cooked food or praying in a public venue during their stay, sources told The Jerusalem Post.

“We were promised to be allowed to create prayer spaces in order for religious Jews who came to see the games to have a place of worship,” a Jewish organization representative said.

“We were recently told that they banned places of worship for Jews because they cannot secure them.”

The tournament began Sunday and continues until December 18. An estimated 10,000 religiously observant Jews are expected to attend.

Also, about 10,000 Israelis booked a trip to Doha, marking the first time they could enter on an Israeli passport only.

“They were promised to be able to cook kosher food, including kosher meat, but at the moment have only been allowed to sell cold bagel sandwiches,” other sources said, according to the Post.

Yet another source told the outlet that a large group of American Jews had planned to attend but canceled their trip due to the lack of amenities.

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Back in 2018, Rabbi Marc Schneier, a well-known Orthodox rabbi of an upscale synagogue in the Hamptons on Long Island, New York, said Qatar had asked him for advice regarding hosting Jewish fans to the 2022 event, a job which would include kosher food, Bloomberg News reported.

Schneier said Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the organizing committee for the World Cup in Qatar, requested his help as thousands of Jewish fans were expected to attend the games.

Schneier – who is also president of the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a global center for Muslim-Jewish relations – together with a Turkish rabbi, had announced the opening of a kosher kitchen in Doha in time for the World Cup, the Post reported.

“The FIFA World Cup is about bringing people together, interacting with different nations, cultures and faiths, and making everyone feel included and welcome,” Schneier said.

The food reportedly includes the baking of the first bagels in Qatar and other ‘Jewish’ food, the report says.

For now, however, Kosher in Qatar – under the supervision of Rabbi Mendy Chitrik of Istanbul, chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, and his son Rabbi Eliyahu Chitrik – will sell challah for Shabbat and bagel sandwiches with spreads.

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Asked if there will be hot food or meat, the rabbi said only if there will be a large group of Jews at the games, the Post reported, adding that he declined to comment on the claim that Qatar had banned kosher food and public Jewish prayer.