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New York hot dog rabbi to make Qatar kosher at World Cup

Dec 28 2018 16:07
Jonathan Ferziger

The rabbi who brought kosher hot dogs to New York baseball stadiums wants to help the Persian Gulf state of Qatar host Jewish fans with food they can eat at soccer’s 2022 World Cup.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, who founded Long Island’s mega-wealthy Hampton Synagogue, says he’s been asked by Hassan Al-Thawadi - secretary-general of the organising committee for the world’s most popular sports event - to advise him on hosting thousands of Jewish fans expected at the games. Visitors with Israeli passports, currently barred from the Muslim country by law, will also be welcome, Schneier said, citing the Qatari official.

He and Al-Thawadi "have been in conversation for the last several months about certain ideas and initiatives he would like to implement to welcome and accommodate the many Jewish visitors they are anticipating at the World Cup," Schneier said - and that includes "bringing kosher food."

Schneier, an Orthodox rabbi, is well-known in New York for the synagogue he founded in the celebrity-studded Hamptons, his clashes with the Jewish establishment, and his colorful personal life, which includes six marriages.

A boon

In a phone interview, Al-Thawadi acknowledged meeting with Schneier but declined to comment on specific plans for accommodating Jews and Israelis at the World Cup. The rabbi’s office has circulated photos of his meetings with the Qatari official in the capital city of Doha. Israel’s Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper first reported that Schneier was advising Al-Thawadi on the games.

An Orthodox rabbi, Schneier was head of the New York Board of Rabbis in 1998, when he says the city asked him to help set up kosher hot dog stands at the baseball stadiums where the Yankees and Mets play. The frankfurters also have been a boon to New York’s 800 000 Muslims because kosher meat is generally also acceptable under Islamic dietary laws, Schneier said in an interview at a kosher Vietnamese restaurant in Tel Aviv.

As head of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which seeks to strengthen ties between Muslims and Jews, Schneier, 59, has been a frequent visitor to the Persian Gulf and says he considers it his mission to help develop Jewish life in the Arab world. He was appointed a "special adviser" to the king of Bahrain this month and bestowed an award in September on Al-Thawadi, 40, whose formal World Cup title in Qatar is secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.

The World Cup in Qatar is scheduled for November 21 to December 18, 2022, according to the website for the games.

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