Brian Blum
November 28, 2011

It was clear from the moment we entered that this was not a happy place. It was our oldest son’s 20th birthday and we decided to celebrate over food. We’d heard that Roza, which has branches in town and on Emek Refaim in Jerusalem, had a creative menu and reasonable prices.

We made a reservation for 6:15 PM and arrived slightly late. The greeter at the door scowled at us, didn’t even look at the reservation book, and pointed to several tables that would fit a party of four. As we skimmed the menu, we noticed that none of the other wait staff were smiling. There was a general feeling of malaise at best, or more likely passive aggressive disquiet.

When Gal, our waiter arrived, my wife made a point of acting chipper. Gal seemed to brighten at her energy. She then proceeded to ask if the establishment has a tav chevrati. The tav is a sort of parallel to kosher certification. Rather than referring to the food, it is given based on whether the employees are treated well, given favorable work conditions and a sufficient salary.

Gal had never heard of the tav chevrati. When my wife Jody asked if the restaurant has terms that might grant it such a certificate, Gal was quick to answer “absolutely not.”

Which is a shame, because the food was quite good. I had a fajita with stir fried veggies on a sizzling platter, our son had a steak sandwich so stuffed that it was hard to figure out how to fit it in his mouth without using a knife and fork. We also had an awesome starter of a lamb kebab foccacia.

We have friends who won’t eat at restaurants without the tav chevrati. I’ve already boycotted at least one, despite the café’s truly excellent crushed ice lemonade with fresh mint.

Jody thought about telling the manager that his or her employees were not happy, but we were in a hurry at the end of our meal and the thought slipped her mind. In any case, it seems like a case of preaching to the wrong choir. But maybe if enough people voice their concerns, conditions will improve.

Try it for yourself – order a meal (that part will be good at least) and if the wait staff are grumpy on your visit, tell the manager. We’ll go back and do the same.

Consider it your own little tent protest for social justice.

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