Mayor Eric Adams is renowned for his enjoyment of the city’s nightlife, and that enthusiasm was evident last Thursday as he mingled with more than 100 guests at the 40/40 Club, a posh bar and restaurant inside the Barclays Center, while indulging in lamp-warmed samosas and chicken skewers.
The event aimed to launch the “Breaking Bread, Building Bonds” program, which intends to host dinners with leaders of the city’s various ethnic and religious communities.
Most participants, city employees, and nonprofit staff attended to experience what such a meal might be like and learn how to hold one on their own.
Adams promised the crowd that they would serve 1,000 dinners by the end of the event. “10,000 individuals will serve as ambassadors for our city.
Then that 10,000 individuals will disperse and have their dinners, growing to 100,000. We shall keep growing until this city shines as a beacon of opportunity.
The dinner project was designed with the Jewish community at its core and launched at a JCC in collaboration with one of the largest Jewish NGOs in the city.
It now has a new challenge: reaching out to the sizable haredi Orthodox populations in Brooklyn, who have suffered several street assaults and follow stringent dietary regulations that may prevent them from participating in some ecumenical dinners.
Haredi residents of New York have attended several “Breaking Bread” dinners, and at least one sizable Hasidic group intends to host one of the events. Several city-based haredi activists, however, told the New York Jewish Week that they don’t think the program can be sensitive enough to their dietary and religious requirements, which include rigorous adherence to kosher standards and, for some, gender separation at public events.
Adams stated outside of the meal last week that the plan did take observant Jews’ needs into mind.
He claimed that when he hosted such events in 2020 while serving as the borough president of Brooklyn, the dishes were always “considerate of Shabbos.”
According to Adams, we let the dinners take place throughout the week. “We accommodate those who can arrive on a Friday night or at dusk. We comply with their kosher diet. We make the food straightforward—nothing fancy—so everyone can feel at home simultaneously.
Rabbi Shlomo Nisanov, who oversees Kehilat Sephardim of Ahavat Achim, a Bukharian communal synagogue, claims that the gathering where Adams was speaking did not have kosher food.