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Handling Pastry Conflicts in the Start-Up Nation

Or don’t go bureking my heart

Liel Leibovitz
February 11, 2013

Who moved my cheese? That’s the question currently occupying Israel’s Chief Rabbinate’s Kashrut Division. Like the famed business book of the same name, theirs, too, is a struggle (h/t Yuval Alexander) to come to terms with change, in this case a change in the traditional shape of burekas.

To the uninitiated, burekas are flaky pastries stuffed with an assortment of delicious fillings, from ground beef to mashed potatoes. To help order this chaotically tasty universe, Israel’s master bakers have long obeyed an unwritten code: burekas filled with cheese were triangle-shaped, helping those keeping kosher separate the milk and the meat.

But like many sacred traditions, this one, too, fell by the wayside, and the Kashrut Czars started receiving complaints from innocents who happily bit into a pyramid-shaped burekas and were shocked to taste not salty dairy goodness but tangy meat.

Used to handling complex matters, the rabbis summoned the owners of a few prominent bakeries to an emergency meeting. Might they commit to the old shape-based method? Might they make meat-filled burekas substantially larger than those stuffed with cheese? Or might they leave one end of the dairy burekas untucked, so that anyone would be able to see its cheesy insides? The matter is yet unresolved. But this is the start-up nation; it shouldn’t be long before some entrepreneur comes up with a decent burekas app, or, barring that, with the idea that one could simply inquire as to the burekas’s filling before making a purchase.

Liel Leibovitz is Editor at Large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.