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Cheap Eats

An entrepreneur opened a Jewish-themed restaurant in Lviv, Ukraine. Chopped liver is on the menu, but not its price—diners get to haggle over it.

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Diners negotiate the price of their dinner at Pid Zolotoyu Rozoyu (Under the Golden Rose) Restaurant in Lviv, Ukraine, November 2011. (All photos Daniel Estrin)

The Ukrainian city of Lviv, also known as L’vov or Lemberg, has a rich but complicated past. On the eve of World War II, the city was home to the third-biggest Jewish population in what was then Poland, behind Warsaw and Lodz. Then came a familiar story: Nazi occupation, pogroms, a ghetto, and concentration camps, and finally the Soviets took over and erased whatever traces of Jewish life remained. The past remains a painful subject in Lviv, and there have been few public efforts to deal with the city’s dark Jewish history. And so a young Ukrainian entrepreneur sensed an opportunity. He opened Under the Golden Rose, a theme restaurant that he says honors the city’s Jewish past. It’s a place where diners are given hats with peyes attached, nibble on matzoh, and are encouraged to haggle over food prices—and so few of Lviv’s remaining Jews see it that way. Producer Daniel Estrin filed this report. [Running time: 16:32.] 

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Kirillov says:

It is somehow not surprising that in Ukraine, where many (though not all) of the population happily murdered their Jewish neighbors along with the Nazis, one should find a ‘Jewish’ themed restaurant perpetuating the most crude and basic antisemitic stereotypes. ‘Hahaha!’ you can hear them laugh, ‘we are just like the Jews, dressing funny and haggling over the last hryvnia!’

Tarik Cyril Amar says:

These are two restaurants, together glorifying Ukrainian World War Two nationalism with its record of ethnic cleansing and antisemitism and demeaning the city’s Jewish heritage. Their makers, especially the hip and “hang-gliding” and cynical Mr Nazaruk and the city of Lviv should be deeply ashamed of them. From my five years of living in Lviv and from a long talk with Mr Nazaruk himself, I very much doubt that Mr Nazaruk et al have made any “serious attempt” to make anything but profits. Talking to me, he was frank about his idea that scandal is good because it also attracts attention and customers and that other questions were simply of no interest to him. He found that funny as well as plausible then. I note that he is changing his tune now; I don’t believe it’s persuasive. That this is such a rare display of Jewish heritage in Lviv, makes it all the worse. I also think that these restaurants should not be given business. There should be no reward for kitsch, distortions, and massive disrespect. Tarik Cyril Amar

I think it’s very offensive. Their is no humor in this approach.
Their is a better way for the community to remember Jewish History.

Am I the only one that thinks this is a bit anti-Semitic?

Haggle over the food?
Dress up like a Jew?

And Tablet see no problem with this? What a screwed up world we live in.

kissthisjewishass says:

I would knock the fucking teeth out of anyone who expressed anti-semitism. Got that shit? Fucking try and see if this jew will take your shit. I can’t wait to visit.

As someone who spent 4 summers in Lviv, I am also quite disturbed by this report. I get the “New Read on Jewish Life” thing, but some depth and context is in order. The Ukrainians in Western Ukraine are notorious Anti Semites. They have a parade annually (It certainly ran in the 90′s and I think it still runs) honoring the collaborators of the SS during WW2. There is nothing innocent about this restaurant and the reporter and publisher should no better. With friends like these…

Sara Ivry says:

I encourage you all to actually listen to this story. The text above is a description but to hear the entire piece–including the subtleties and nuances–you must actually listen to it. The reporter does take a critical approach and is not suggesting there is anything “innocent” about it.

Tarik Cyril Amar says:

I have listened to the feature carefully before posting my comment. I agree there is some subtext (as there usually is), but, on the whole, I have found it disappointingly uncritical and far too ready, or so it comes across, to take Mr Nazaruk’s flimsy and, as I think, opportunistic rationalizations at face-value, alas. He should also have been asked much harder, more investigative questions. I felt he and his restaurants were being soft-balled.

Lviv Jewish activist Meylakh Sheykhet has it right..”…exploitation. Terrible.”

Victor Strassmann says:

My parents were born in Lvov. They could never go back to their home town. They had to leave because they wanted to go to the University, but jews were not admitted. They went to Italy (Padua and Rome). This fact must also be published!
Victor Strassmann, M.D., from Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sofia Dyak says:

The restaurant mentioned in this story also has got a very sharp public criticism when it was opened. This is a scandalous and terrible place. While it is not easy to have some change there (persuding owner gives little results, as he likes “scandals”) or even make it close (tourists go there, this is private business also). But one thing should be done – take off the terrace adjusted to the site of the remains of the Golden Rose Synagogue. This is one of the aims of the recently chosen project “Synagogue Square” to be realized on adjusted sites to the site of Golden Rose Synagogue in 2012-13. Through 2008 and 2011 I have been involved in organizing competition to mark three sites of Jewish history in Lviv. The site, where Golden Rose and two other buildings stood before the war – synagogue and beith hamidrash – is one of them. Raising public awareness about Jewish and Polish communities which inhabited the city before the war is very crucial in Lviv. The competition was one of the very few efforst to find a dignified way of honor and mark sites important for the history of Jewish community and which were destroyed and plundered in the Holocaust. There are many problems now in Lviv related to comemmorating Jewish history of Lviv (Lwow, Lemberg), including but not limited to prejudices, ignorance, silencing and in this case – commercial abuse. But it is also important to show approaches where the aim is to change situation. If you are interested in these initiatives, more information is awailable online at http://lvivcenter.org/en/conferences/competitionjewishsites/

Daniel Estrin says:

Thank you all for your comments about the podcast. I know the Jewish-themed restaurant is bound to elicit strong reactions. My aim with this podcast was to feature a range of perspectives I encountered in Lviv regarding the commemoration of the city’s Jewish past. What was most interesting for me to explore was not just the existence of this Jewish-themed restaurant and the controversy it has stoked, but also the striking fact that the restaurant is Lviv’s only prominent public display of Jewish culture — and that city officials have often stood in the way of other efforts to commemorate Lviv’s Jewish past. Thank you to Lviv historians Tarik Cyril Amar and Sofia Dyak for adding more context here about their previous discussions with the restaurant administration, and about other local efforts now taking place to mark the city’s Jewish heritage. There’s another initiative currently taking place, which Sofia Dyak, head of Lviv’s Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, mentioned to me, and which I think is important to point out. This year, Ukrainian museum workers are meeting in Lviv for a training workshop on how to properly handle Judaica collections. Some Ukrainian museums possess large collections of historical objects from the ritual and cultural life of the country’s Jewish communities — but they are often hidden from the public’s view. As I mention in the podcast, one large Judaica collection in Lviv is now collecting dust in a museum storage, instead of being put on display. This Lviv-based training workshop for museum curators seems like a wonderful step forward.

Leah Bangma says:

I find this disturbing and offensive…..please see below for an honest assessment….what is happening

Release date
2012
Genre
Documentary
About
A film demonstrating the power of ordinary people who stand up for the truth, to stop a nation from rewriting its Holocaust past.
Description
In 2005, Melbourne academic Danny Ben-Moshe traveled to Lithuania, where his great grandparents died in WW2. What he discovered horrified him.

In a country where 95% of Jews were eradicated by Nazis and their local collaborators, anti-Semitism remains rife. More than that, ultra-nationalists are growing in power and there’s an official campaign to rewrite the destruction of their own Jewish citizens out of Lithuanian history.

Holocaust survivors, Jewish partisans who struggled against the Nazis, have been investigated for ‘war crimes’. And those who speak out find their futures in doubt.

These efforts are not secret. They are co-ordinated at the highest levels of the Lithuanian Government. It is determined to change the way the Holocaust is perceived – not only locally, but globally.

This is the story of the campaign to ensure that history is not rewritten.

The film is set against a backdrop of history and key events in Lithuania in 1941 that led to the Wannsee Conference of January 1942, where senior Nazi officials set in motion the industrialised killing machine that would come to be known as the ‘Final Solution’.

Commenting Policy: We welcome your participation on the Rewriting History page. We encourage constructive discussion and debate, but we kindly ask all participants to treat fellow participants with respect and courtesy. We reserve the right to remove or edit content we consider to be defamatory, unlawful, abusive, or otherwise inappropriate, and to block repeat offenders.
Website
http://rewriting-history.org/
Likes and interests

sry123 says:

The restaurant is crude and offensive, however it is not meant maliciously. The restaurant chain includes tacky and crude stereotypes of all sorts of historical elements of Lviv’s past, including a Freemason restaurant where you have to say a special password to be led into a secret chamber, a Ukrainian nationalist restaurant where you have to drink a ghastly shot of some sort of vodka from a communal glass, and the Masochism restaurant described int he piece.  Because of the unique suffering  of Jews in Lviv, the restaurant is in poor taste and I wished it made more of an effort to reach out to the Jewish community, but this report does a nice job of capturing the naivete involved in the enterprise. 

Meylakh Sheykhet says:

The Project described by Sophia Dyak “the Square of the 3 sunagogues” is offensive as it is aimed to earase the memory of the Jewish community of L’viv (Lemberg), it is aimed better to make the space Judenfrei. Unfortunately it is a continuation of the anti-Semitic approach to the Jewish historical heritage. The free space the “project makers” advise is to have an open space for the neighboring restaurants and a promenade for the pedestrians rather then to show the Jewish Heritage restored or at least marked. If implemented the Project will not serve the tourists likely to see the Jewish sites and listen to what was the Jewish community since the 14th century or earlier in that city.

It is quite impossible to explain to the Centre of City History of the Central Eastern Europe the Jewish requirements. They do not listen! The Protocol signed by the Jews who was selected to be part of the Jury and the Chief Architect of L’viv Yuri Krivoruchko insisted to listen to the Jewish community requirements – never happened. You would never believe that the Centre represents the Jewish community of L’viv wihout giving a voice to the Jewish religious community and even to the secular.

What is more unacceptable – The Director of the local affiliation to the American JDC supports the ugly anti-Semitic restaurant. She taking monwy from the restaurant and is doing the Klezmer Festival in co-operation with the restaurant Zhidivska Knaipa, which Shimon Briman – a scanadal Israel journalist writes in the news papers that the restaurant is good.

plutarh says:

Thank you for your comments. As someone born in Lvov (I will never refer to it as Lviv since Ukrainians have nothing to do with its history save for destroying and re-writing it) I am appalled at seeing this excuse for human being opening up a “Jewish” restaurant. Hearing ‘kike” from early age was the norm for me growing up. Lvov is the most anti-Semitic city in what used to be USSR and now Ukraine, sadly, since historically it was the first truly mutli-religion city in Middle Ages Europe. Shame that (thankfully) the Armenian Church is still standing, since the 14th century, while the other major part of the city center and life, Jewish Quarter and Synagogue, are gone, not thanks to the Nazis who made Lvov their command center during WWII, but the “peace loving Ukrainians” in 1960. Shame that we cannot visit grave sites of my paternal grandparents as what used to be a part of Jewish Cemetery has been raised for new construction, again, by the same “peace loving Ukrainians”. Ukrainians are not only shameless in re-writing their own sad excuse for a “history” that has nothing to show as an accomplishment or contribution to world’s culture, but they are hell bent on re-writing Jewish history as well.

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