Holy War in Midtown between Kosher and Halal Food Vendors

A Jewish kosher-food vendor claims the “halal mafia” is stopping him from peddling in Manhattan’s most profitable areas. Yisroel Mordowitz says he wants to park his Holy Rollers cart near Rockefeller center to sell his brisket and pastrami high piled sandwiches. However, he is physically blocked from parking his kosher cart on the sidewalk of 48th Street off Sixth Avenue, by a gang of indignant Egyptian competitors. He explains that the ferocious peddling posy cordons off the space with cartons, umbrellas, and even using their own bodies as part of the blockade. “This guy is hungry — hungry for money. I have a family, too!” exclaims Sabrett seller Mohamed Mossad, with close to a dozen associates have kept Mordowitz off 48th Street. The New York Post reports Mossad Shouting, “Why doesn’t he go to 47th Street?” referring to the heavy Hasidim occupied Diamond District. “He’s just coming to this particular spot, and he wants to grab it from me — and kill me, actually. Kill my business.” Although all the peddlers don’t serve pork and prepare food in accordance to strict religious guidelines, the differences in religions is cause enough for clashing. The Holly Rollers follow kosher guidelines, while the Muslims prepare halal food according to Islamic law. The Holy Rollers adhere to strict kosher guidelines, and their Muslim rivals sell halal food prepared in accordance with Islamic law. For both, pork is a no-no, but there are differences in how meat must be slaughtered and prepped. The on-site kosher food certifier, known as the mash-giach, Avram Wolpin had become so concerned about the growing tensions, that he feared Mordowitz would “disappear” one day. Mordowitz relocated his cart southwestward after being unable to work in the Rockefellar area. He settled in friendly territory, near the Hasidic-run B&H Photo on 35th Street and Ninth Avenue. The 30-year-old from Queens, Mordowitz said sorrowfully, “I thought I could bring peace to Midtown. I’m not an enemy — I’m a friend.” On Monday, February 9, and Tuesday, February 10, the Holy Rollers were able to work on 48th Street without any trouble. From the office workers and tourist in Midtown the vendors made around $2,000 on Tuesday. Unfortunately, Wednesday was all but peaceful. Mordowitz told The Post, that one of the food peddlers shouted, “This is not Palestine!” The Post reports: The kosher vender said, “They’re trying to say that the Jews in Israel are pushing people out, so don’t do it here.” Mordowitz said one rival even followed managing partner Yosef Salzbank around in a Jeep Cherokee, making sure he parked the cart far enough away. “I said, ‘Why are you terrorizing me?’ ” Mordowitz recalled. But the halal hawkers say they’re not the haters. “He said I am a terrorist. He says I bombed the Twin Towers. That’s racist,” recalled Mossad, who insisted his objections have nothing to do with religion. “To me, it’s not about him being a Jew.” Vendors’ licenses given by the city do not provide any restricted location for the cart. However, reasons like being too close to subway entrances among many others would require a vendor to relocate his stand. The lack of licensed territories for vendors turns it into a first come first to get the best spot basis. Competing vendors will drive in their carts at 3 a.m. and others even stay the whole night to claim a prime location.