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New York - Brooklyn Kosher Restaurants Under Scrutiny After Cancelling Jewish Comedy Show

Published on: December 10, 2018 12:34 PM
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Brooklyn, NY - Two popular kosher restaurants in Brooklyn could be facing legal action after canceling a New Year’s Eve comedy show featuring a comedienne mired in controversy not of her own making.

A lawsuit filed with the New York City Human Rights Commission is charging both the Garden of Eat-In in Flatbush and Orchidea in Borough Park with violating the civil rights of comedienne Leah Forster by cancelling a scheduled New Year’s Eve comedy show.

Forster, who prefers to keep her life choices private, said that the rabbis who provide kashrus certification to the restaurants threatened to yank their approvals because of petitions circulating on WhatsApp saying that she is “openly lesbian.”

“I have never publicly said that,” Forster told VIN News. “I am aware of the community I am part of and I hold very strongly my connection to Judaism.”

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The Garden of Eat-In is under the rabbinical supervision of the Vaad Harabonim of Flatbush and Kehilla Kashrus. Orchidea is under the rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Beck.

Forster, who released numerous women’s comedy CDs including Yentatainment and Balabusted! from 2008 through 2013, and appeared in the lineup of a Saturday night comedy show at the Kosher Culinary Center of North America which is under the rabbinical supervision of North American Kosher. 

She had been scheduled to appear in a comedy show being held at the Garden of Eat-In on Avenue J, along with two other female performers.  The comedy night was cancelled at the end of November, rescheduled at Orchidea and the cancelled yet again.

Forster said that the owners of both restaurants went out of their way to accommodate her, offering to find another venue for the show or to provide food so that the event could go on elsewhere. 

She has gone out of her way to be as respectful as possible, sharing positive thoughts about both venues on Facebook and saying that she did not intend to pursue legal action despite those who told her that her civil rights had been violated.

The story was brought to the New York City Commission on Human Rights by another party who reached out to Forster who told them that she did not want to pursue a case against the two eateries.

“They told me these are businesses and as businesses you have to follow certain guidelines,” Forster told VIN News.  “We are opening an investigation regardless.”

The story was also leaked to the secular news media which Forster said asked her to pose angrily in front of the restaurants, something she also refused to do.

“I’m not looking to sensationalize this,” said Forster. “I am doing my part to make sure that people know that these are good people.”

Despite the difficulties she has encountered, she said that she has always gone out of her way to be respectful of her family and the community she was raised it.

“I know a lot of people who have become bitter and angry and have stopped growing after they faced rejection,” said Forster.  “I built a career, a family and a positive life for myself and I want to be known as someone who created positivity and happiness.”

Mazel Werzberger, owner of Orchidea, said that the restaurant’s rabbi spent a full week considering the matter before deciding that the event could not take place, reaching out to numerous people and meeting with the parties involved.  The decision to cancel the show did not come lightly to him, or to the restaurant said Werzberger.

“I have an amazing rabbi, a very considerate person, who really checked into it,” said Werzberger.  “The same way I have to follow the rules from the health department, I have to follow my rabbi.”

No one from the Garden of Eat-In or the New York City Commission of Human Rights was immediately available to comment on the matter.



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Read Comments (44)  —  Post Yours »

2

 Dec 10, 2018 at 12:45 PM Reb Yid Says:

How can she complain about discrimination, when she doesn't admit to being a member of the group that she's claims is being discriminated against?

3

 Dec 10, 2018 at 12:49 PM Educated Archy Says:

Vote republican. Democrates are a threat to frum jews and their beliefs This is a prime example. of course my obnoxious satmar friend will blame this on white democrat christains too.

Sad

4

 Dec 10, 2018 at 01:33 PM Hasid Says:

it's a tough battle.
she some legal ground there is she can prove the cancelled because of who she is.
it will make a big legal case, and scandal in the community.

5

 Dec 10, 2018 at 01:33 PM Anonymous Says:

i actually commend forster for the mentchlichkeit she appears to possess with respect to the frum world. she has neither confirmed nor denied her orientation, (which is abhorrent in my opinion, for the record). she seems genuinely upset by the swiftness of the forced legal action by the overly liberal (read tumadik) world we sadly live in.

with this in mind, i have an issue with this 'female comedy hour'. as a frum and open minded female, it feels secular and inappropriate. this isn't a tzedakah or a community wide event benefitting women's causes (almanos, divorcees or agunos). it's a bunch of wannabe sarah silvermans that should be performing in someone's house or a comedy hall and not at a public venue such as a restaurant. and while i am at it, the white dress worn by the comedienne on the left is skin tight, which is another reason for inappropriateness

6

 Dec 10, 2018 at 01:34 PM The_Truth Says:

A bit of mixed information going around, and I dont think that VIN is providing truly honest reporting here.


“(The rabbi) said that you’re a lesbian, and you represent that, and we can’t let this go on,” Kirshner told Forster in a phone call, that she recorded and shared with the Daily News.

"Forster filed a formal complaint with the city’s Commission on Human Rights on Friday.
“I am being stripped of my basic human and civil rights solely based on my sexuality plus my religion or lack thereof,” she said."

7

 Dec 10, 2018 at 01:45 PM lazy-boy Says:

what the heck is a kosher restaurant doing having a goyish New Years celebration???

8

 Dec 10, 2018 at 01:47 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Reb Yid Says:

How can she complain about discrimination, when she doesn't admit to being a member of the group that she's claims is being discriminated against?

read the article again, you didn't read it right the first time...

9

 Dec 10, 2018 at 01:49 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Educated Archy Says:

Vote republican. Democrates are a threat to frum jews and their beliefs This is a prime example. of course my obnoxious satmar friend will blame this on white democrat christains too.

Sad

republicans and democrats have nothing to do with this! this is the human rights commission that's looking to create problems wherever they can

10

 Dec 10, 2018 at 01:58 PM Sociologist Says:

I think the rabbis are not doing enough to protect Jews. They should monitor how people dress when they go into public places like restaurants. Also, you see unmarried boys and girls sitting together. It will be the end of yiddeshkeit.

11

 Dec 10, 2018 at 01:58 PM Anonymous Says:

And why didn't the rabbis make a fuss that this was a Sylvester party?

12

 Dec 10, 2018 at 01:59 PM Bukharian Says:

good for her hope she wins, so called fake rabbis' this only exists among Ashakanzi communities hate and separation among each other.

13

 Dec 10, 2018 at 02:03 PM realistic Says:

This was a business decision, I assume. Several people I know said they will stop patronizing these restaurants if the show goes on. These 2 women show disdain for everything we as Jews were taught to love and respect and they try to influence others to do the same. I don't believe this has anything to do with her being a lesbian or otherwise.
Riki Rose you should stay away from them. You are of a different cloth!!!

14

 Dec 10, 2018 at 02:41 PM Avi Says:

We need Rabbi Levin to help us get out of this mess.

15

 Dec 10, 2018 at 02:46 PM HeshyEmes Says:

1. He life choice is not part of her show and should be an issue.
2. Its understandable that a Rav Hamachshir would be within his rights to cancel the hashgacha of a restaurant that had a belly dancer.
3. Her life choice is not ossur min Hatoireh, and may not even be ossur m'Drabunim (the Rambam says that its Darchei Mitzree, and women should be discouraged from it).
4. Unfortunately, once the public got a hold of the story, no mashgiach needs the PR. Why would anyone in the hashgacha business (and it is a business, even the holiest non profit) upset anyone who believes, rightly or wrongly, that the comedy act is "not kosher"?

16

 Dec 10, 2018 at 02:50 PM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

republicans and democrats have nothing to do with this! this is the human rights commission that's looking to create problems wherever they can

The human rights commission would have no say if the state or country is run by republicans. the commission is only what it is based on who governs it.

17

 Dec 10, 2018 at 02:59 PM dannyboy Says:

Reply to #12  
Bukharian Says:

good for her hope she wins, so called fake rabbis' this only exists among Ashakanzi communities hate and separation among each other.

Racist.

18

 Dec 10, 2018 at 03:04 PM yaakov doe Says:

Reply to #16  
Educated Archy Says:

The human rights commission would have no say if the state or country is run by republicans. the commission is only what it is based on who governs it.

If it's a human rights issue a Human Rights Commission would rule based on law and facts not on which party is in power, I would think a truly educated person would know that.
A party celebrating the secular new year should never take place in a Jewish restaurant or facility.

19

 Dec 10, 2018 at 03:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Sociologist Says:

I think the rabbis are not doing enough to protect Jews. They should monitor how people dress when they go into public places like restaurants. Also, you see unmarried boys and girls sitting together. It will be the end of yiddeshkeit.

You sound like an ayatollah. They have tznius police in Iran. We have free choice.
You can disagree with people's choices but this is America and not a theocracy.

20

 Dec 10, 2018 at 03:19 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #15  
HeshyEmes Says:

1. He life choice is not part of her show and should be an issue.
2. Its understandable that a Rav Hamachshir would be within his rights to cancel the hashgacha of a restaurant that had a belly dancer.
3. Her life choice is not ossur min Hatoireh, and may not even be ossur m'Drabunim (the Rambam says that its Darchei Mitzree, and women should be discouraged from it).
4. Unfortunately, once the public got a hold of the story, no mashgiach needs the PR. Why would anyone in the hashgacha business (and it is a business, even the holiest non profit) upset anyone who believes, rightly or wrongly, that the comedy act is "not kosher"?

Well said.

21

 Dec 10, 2018 at 03:37 PM concerned Says:

Reply to #19  
Anonymous Says:

You sound like an ayatollah. They have tznius police in Iran. We have free choice.
You can disagree with people's choices but this is America and not a theocracy.

And you speak like a person who doesn't agree with the Torah

22

 Dec 10, 2018 at 03:52 PM georgeg Says:

Reply to #18  
yaakov doe Says:

If it's a human rights issue a Human Rights Commission would rule based on law and facts not on which party is in power, I would think a truly educated person would know that.
A party celebrating the secular new year should never take place in a Jewish restaurant or facility.

"a Human Rights Commission would rule based on law and facts "

That is where you are wrong. These guys rule based on their opinion of what the law is or should be. The case of the Colorado baker who was exonerated by the Supreme Court court shows that clearly. The Supreme Court agreed there was a law but the way the lower powers handled the situation was beyond any type of fairness (to the point that it violated the baker's constitutional rights). But not everyone has the money and time to take a case all the way to the Supreme Court (the baker had help of course) so most will simply suffer unfairly.

In this particular case, the only law I could find in language I can understand (from the NY government web site itself) states:

> Federal and New York State laws protect people from discrimination by:
> Employers
> State agencies that provide services to you
> These laws make it illegal to discriminate against a person or a group of people, as a job applicant or as an employee.

Assuming the restaurant is not a "state agency", then is the claimant either an "employee" or an "applicant"? A lot of leeway there. I see the claimant as an independent contractor who does not qualify.

23

 Dec 10, 2018 at 04:16 PM georgeg Says:

I point out the hypocrisy. It is well known and documented how services (including restaurants) have discriminated against people base on their political affiliation (even when these affiliations were not made public by the customer at the restaurant). In the Colorado baker case, the the baker was trashed as follows:

> Daniel Ramos of the LGBTQ advocacy group One Colorado responded to the news in a statement: "All people – including LGBTQ people – deserve to be served equally in public spaces, & no religious belief gives anyone the right to pick & choose whom they serve & what laws they want to follow."

So how does that square with those who are denied service for belonging to the wrong political party?

With regard to my previous post, I would point out that a contractor is clearly not the same as an employee even in the code, as sexual harassment of a contractor was added "April 12, 2018" and thus obviously not already included in harassment of an employee:

> An employer may be held liable to a non-employee who is a contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace ... with respect to sexual harassment

24

 Dec 10, 2018 at 04:18 PM Kashrus pro Says:

Yasher koach to the kashrus agencies for standing up to this trash.

25

 Dec 10, 2018 at 04:18 PM very Says:

Reply to #19  
Anonymous Says:

You sound like an ayatollah. They have tznius police in Iran. We have free choice.
You can disagree with people's choices but this is America and not a theocracy.

Shouldn't your question or position be, what does the torah want. i don't think it has to do whether you live in the US or Iran.

26

 Dec 10, 2018 at 04:43 PM grandpajoe Says:

I don't understand this whole discussion - do we not shop at Department stores, do Chassidim shop at Walmart in the Catskills etc - there are all kinds of non frum/non Jews walking around the stores - we have the option to go to them or not - these Eating Establishments hired this person - YOU HAVE THE OPTION TO GO TO the show - next Stores in Williamsburg will refuse to sell to people who do not wear WHITE SHIRTS and BLACK PANTS, or a knitted KIPA - what is the CHumrah that is being created next.

27

 Dec 10, 2018 at 05:09 PM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #18  
yaakov doe Says:

If it's a human rights issue a Human Rights Commission would rule based on law and facts not on which party is in power, I would think a truly educated person would know that.
A party celebrating the secular new year should never take place in a Jewish restaurant or facility.

1) The law is subject to interpretation as with the gay wedding baker. Republicans will interpret it more in a torah way.
2) You can pass new laws to protect people's religons. Republicans would do that . dems wouldn't
3) I don't care that much about the law. so its the law big deal. The law was used for hundreds of years to persecute jews The nazis also followed the law. if its against the torah or it hurts us i don't care about the stupid law. And usually Republicans on these issues won't enforce a silly law.

Got it qaxzc? is very simple yamsar.

28

 Dec 10, 2018 at 05:43 PM a-believer Says:

I’m sooooo proud of Orchidea for having the courage to refuse this show ! I definitely will patronize them more often now and tell my friends and family as well! Chazak!!

29

 Dec 10, 2018 at 06:24 PM Aguttenshabbos Says:

Same standard and strictness should go for Pesach hotels.

30

 Dec 10, 2018 at 07:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Hashgachas should stick to strictly kashrus . That's their job . Why are they mishing arin in tznuis ? Let the rabbonim do tnat

31

 Dec 10, 2018 at 07:27 PM PaulinSaudi Says:

I am not that familiar with your Bible or Torah but what does it say about a Lesbian? I do know it's not one of the ten commandments but is it a prohibition? and if so is it a biblical prohibition or only a rabbinical prohibition?

32

 Dec 10, 2018 at 08:02 PM ELEPHANT Says:

Only president Trump supporters are aloud to be thrown out of restaurants? And being refused services??

33

 Dec 10, 2018 at 08:13 PM favish Says:

Reply to #26  
grandpajoe Says:

I don't understand this whole discussion - do we not shop at Department stores, do Chassidim shop at Walmart in the Catskills etc - there are all kinds of non frum/non Jews walking around the stores - we have the option to go to them or not - these Eating Establishments hired this person - YOU HAVE THE OPTION TO GO TO the show - next Stores in Williamsburg will refuse to sell to people who do not wear WHITE SHIRTS and BLACK PANTS, or a knitted KIPA - what is the CHumrah that is being created next.

Are you forreal? where were you when brains were given?what are you comparing??

34

 Dec 10, 2018 at 08:14 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #27  
Educated Archy Says:

1) The law is subject to interpretation as with the gay wedding baker. Republicans will interpret it more in a torah way.
2) You can pass new laws to protect people's religons. Republicans would do that . dems wouldn't
3) I don't care that much about the law. so its the law big deal. The law was used for hundreds of years to persecute jews The nazis also followed the law. if its against the torah or it hurts us i don't care about the stupid law. And usually Republicans on these issues won't enforce a silly law.

Got it qaxzc? is very simple yamsar.

the holy torah and the jewish book of laws(which is same ) is ABOVE THE LAW OF THE LAND!!

35

 Dec 10, 2018 at 09:17 PM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #31  
PaulinSaudi Says:

I am not that familiar with your Bible or Torah but what does it say about a Lesbian? I do know it's not one of the ten commandments but is it a prohibition? and if so is it a biblical prohibition or only a rabbinical prohibition?

Shut yup yamsar. Your humor is not even funny. Pathetic

36

 Dec 10, 2018 at 09:18 PM NEW-NU Says:

It says in the V'al hanisim prayer of Chaukah that Hashem waged their battles and defended their rights. Torah observing Jews and Noachides have rights to be protected from immorality. Relations between females are lan abomination to G-d. This is one of the subjects of the verse Leviticus 18:3, which speaks against the immoral practices of the ancient Egyptians and Canaanites, and which Leviticus 18:30 refers to as “abominable traditions.” About these the Midrash specifies: “A man would marry a man, a woman would marry a woman, and a woman would be married to two men.”

37

 Dec 10, 2018 at 10:41 PM eli845 Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

republicans and democrats have nothing to do with this! this is the human rights commission that's looking to create problems wherever they can

This has a lot to do with Democrats vs Republican, well in the sense of right vs left. Democrats claim to care about freedom but that is as long as you believe in what they say. What about freedom to choose how to run my business? If you don't like my services go somewhere else don't tell me what to do and sure don't tell me I have to go against my religion... If you don't get it....

38

 Dec 10, 2018 at 10:59 PM veryfrum Says:

Reply to #31  
PaulinSaudi Says:

I am not that familiar with your Bible or Torah but what does it say about a Lesbian? I do know it's not one of the ten commandments but is it a prohibition? and if so is it a biblical prohibition or only a rabbinical prohibition?

According to the shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer 20:2 it is prohibited and a woman would get Malkos. Don't think anyone argues

39

 Dec 10, 2018 at 11:40 PM Crazykanoiy Says:

Reply to #16  
Educated Archy Says:

The human rights commission would have no say if the state or country is run by republicans. the commission is only what it is based on who governs it.

Very Educated Archy lets us know that there would be no human rights comission in a Republican led world. All who want to discriminate against others would be allowed to do as they wish. I imagine that in the Archy Republican controlled America there would be no problem banning Jews from hotels and professions just like in the past when America was Great. MAGA.

40

 Dec 11, 2018 at 02:30 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #28  
a-believer Says:

I’m sooooo proud of Orchidea for having the courage to refuse this show ! I definitely will patronize them more often now and tell my friends and family as well! Chazak!!

ABSOLUTELY! CHAZAK VYAMAITZ!

41

 Dec 11, 2018 at 02:33 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #26  
grandpajoe Says:

I don't understand this whole discussion - do we not shop at Department stores, do Chassidim shop at Walmart in the Catskills etc - there are all kinds of non frum/non Jews walking around the stores - we have the option to go to them or not - these Eating Establishments hired this person - YOU HAVE THE OPTION TO GO TO the show - next Stores in Williamsburg will refuse to sell to people who do not wear WHITE SHIRTS and BLACK PANTS, or a knitted KIPA - what is the CHumrah that is being created next.

THIS IS ENTERTAINMENT. GET THE DIFFRENCE? we dont want our kids and friends and neighbors to be subjected to such kind of despicable garbage.. Let them go to Harlem and get beaten to ..... Mayb then theyl get the message.. Chairem! Orows!

42

 Dec 11, 2018 at 11:29 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #35  
Educated Archy Says:

Shut yup yamsar. Your humor is not even funny. Pathetic

You are a parasite unless you are on welfare you get [paid for nothing sad for whom you work, if you work????

43

 Dec 11, 2018 at 05:13 PM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #39  
Crazykanoiy Says:

Very Educated Archy lets us know that there would be no human rights comission in a Republican led world. All who want to discriminate against others would be allowed to do as they wish. I imagine that in the Archy Republican controlled America there would be no problem banning Jews from hotels and professions just like in the past when America was Great. MAGA.

Oh I am not calling for no human rights commisions rather a more right interpertation of human rights that now mean protections for our religous beliefs and ignoring LGBT. That's the modern day threat. Should it come to the other extreme and somehow slip into other ways where frum jews suffer we can then vote democrat like we once did. I look at whatever the pressing issue is current. Right now its religous bleiefes being persecuted like LGBT, Bris mila, Kapras etc..

44

 Dec 11, 2018 at 06:08 PM Anonymous Says:

This is Chaim Duetsch and David Greenfield's fault, they both voted for multiple bills strengthening the cities gay rights bill.

including one that makes all exceptions and exemptions be interpreted narrowly, and another getting rid of specific exceptions and exemptions against homosexuals.

45

 Dec 11, 2018 at 06:14 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

republicans and democrats have nothing to do with this! this is the human rights commission that's looking to create problems wherever they can

that are doing this based on laws that were voted in by our politicians.

we should have listened to all the rabbanim assuring voting for leftist politicians (of either party)

46

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