The Hasidic Jew Who Treated A Group of Soldiers For Dinner

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Military food rations generally don’t include kugel and matza balls, but when a group of uniformed U.S. Army and Israeli soldiers came in for an early dinner last week at Gottlieb’s Restaurant in Williamsburg (Satmar-owned for three generations) that’s exactly what they got. Gottlieb’s is a neighborhood fixture, known for their heimishe cuisine and popular for Shabbos take-out. Celebrities and politicians have come by over the years, as well as police commissioners, local law enforcement and even former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano who enjoyed cholent and knishes with her Secret Service detail.

Restaurant proprietor Menachem Gottleib, a Satmar Hasid, explained, “They came in and sat down to eat like any other customers. They ate goulash and grilled chicken. Good old heimishe stuff.” But the restaurant and street outside were teeming with Orthodox Jews who were fascinated and proud. “People went up to shake their hands. Someone offered to bring them a bottle of wine. Everyone was taking pictures with them and sending out their photos.”

But that didn’t demonstrate the level of respect and gratitude that was being felt by people in the neighborhood. “A chasidishe guy from Boro Park came in and came over to the waiter and took out his credit card and paid that table’s bill. When it was time for the soldiers to ask for the check, the waiter came over to them and told them it was already taken care of by a generous customer.” The soldiers protested that it wasn’t necessary, that they wanted to pay, but it was already done. “They took out the amount of money that the bill would have cost, about $50 or $60, and divided it between the different pushkas on the counter for local tzedakas.”

Gottleib says that “The soldiers were very friendly. They went to speak with my father and presented him with a special souvenir Army coin with a flag on it.” They mentioned that they were doing a training session nearby. “The local chasidishe community has been talking about it. Everyone was very interested because there is a great respect for what they do. Both the U.S. Army and especially the Israeli Army – we have so much respect for them risking their lives every day,” explained Gottleib. The buzz over the incident has kept a steady stream of people coming into the restaurant ever since. “It’s good advertising when something like this happens, but we are used to it by now. My grandfather opened the restaurant in 1962. People like it here.”
Editor’s Note: In an earlier version, we mistakenly called all the soldiers “U.S. Army” and referred to the group as a “platoon.” Jew in the City regrets the error.
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Sara Levine About Sara Levine

A former Hollywood script editor, Jerusalem event planner, non-profit fundraiser and professional blogger, Sara Levine is an accomplished writer and editor. After graduating from USC's School of Cinematic Arts, her first screenplay was well-received by story executives at major studios. As a journalist, her articles have been published internationally in popular magazines and websites. With over 18 years experience as a story consultant, her notes and critiques on novels and scripts have been used to select and improve material by top studios, networks, agencies and writers in Hollywood and beyond. She is currently at work on her first novel.

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  1. Sara Stern says:

    On your article about the soldier at Williamsburg’s Gottlieb’s restaurant.
    Satmar Chassidim never judge others. It is a Chassidus of love and giving. Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum , the founder of the Satmar Chassidus in USA was the loving father of all the refugees coming here after WWII when most of them lost entire families in Auschwitz. This pattern of giving is being passed down by his disciplines all over the world.
    Sara Stern
    Williamsburg OUTREACH

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