This story was originally published on The Nosher.
(JTA) — In February 2023, Mendl’s Delicatessen opened on a leafy-green street in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City. Condesa is an area that’s been home to Jewish families for 100 years, and is currently extremely trendy, so the fit was right. The New York-style, full-service deli has a walk-up take out window, shaded outdoor tables and two bright and airy dining rooms inside. There’s also pretty much always a wait to get a seat because the place is a vibe, but don’t worry, it never seems to take long to get in, and lounging on the sidewalk benches is a charming part of the experience.
The idea behind the deli was simple: to boil and bake bagels like those of the East Coast of the U.S., and offer Mexico City diners elevated versions of Ashkenazi cuisine heavy hitters.
According to the young and energetic Chef Montserrat Garza Garduño (a Sephardic Jew from Andalusia, Spain), “The idea of the restaurant is to serve traditional American/New York Jewish food.”
Her near obsession to open the spot began with years of extensive research, fueled by a love of Jewish cooking maven Claudia Roden’s books and the drive to get everything just so. The goal was to make the restaurant a love letter to Jewish dining.
It didn’t happen without overcoming some hurdles, though. For one thing, popular Mexican flavor profiles and the old world pantries of the shtetl don’t overlap much.
“Our biggest challenge was finding a good meat purveyor, the right kinds of fish, and things like dill, rye and poppyseeds,” said Garduño, noting that the typical herbs and spices of Eastern Europe are not at all common in Mexico. Much of what she uses has to be imported or is grown by farmers she’s developed relationships with.
She needed those specific items because almost everything that’s served is thoughtfully made in-house.That attention to authenticity makes the spot appealing to expats, world travelers, tourists, Jews, gentiles and all the locals craving or curious about Chef Garduño’s food. While not kosher, the restaurant serves the expected hits, alongside less familiar staples like smoked whitefish, borscht and kreplach.
“We have to educate a lot of people about some of the dishes, but once they try, they’re excited. I send things to my friends to eat and then they will talk about it and order it,” said Garduño.
Part of what also makes this spot a treasure is that it’s just no easy feat to make what they serve. The elevation in Mexico City is more than 7,000 feet, and baking at that altitude is a challenge, though they make it seem effortless. The black and white cookie is a flashback to a childhood dream and the enormously popular bagels that come in all the classic varieties are dense and chewy, with a slight hint of malt (another atypical imported ingredient) and have a bright, shiny exterior. The 48-hour cured lox is a vibrant coral color, beautiful and silky. They cure it plain, with dill and, in a nod to the local love of heat, chile spiced.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the half- and full-sour pickles, which I believe will rival any you’ve ever had. They pack a garlicky punch.
The deep pink pastrami with it’s dark, nubbly and highly spiced exterior is cured for two weeks before going into their rooftop smoker (that also accommodates the exceptional smoked fish) has proven to be a menu favorite as well.
“Mexicans love meat and they love our pastrami. At first we tried to slice it thin, but now do it thick and it’s a bestseller,” said Garduño.
Four and a half ounces of the meat is served on thick pieces of fragrant rye, making it a hefty sandwich. Paired with a house-made cream soda it’s a perfect lunch.
Is there matzah ball soup? Oh yes. The matzah ball itself is about the size of a croquet ball and hovers the fine line between airy and dense. The light broth has carrots and fresh dill and is all flavor — bright yellow and clear as a bell. The heady secret, according to Chef Garduño, is that “We use hen stock. It’s higher in fat and gives more flavor.”
This is the of-the-moment restaurant for anyone who wants a top-notch, homey and coquettishly photogenic brunch. The food is just what you’re expecting but somehow a bit better, and they will soon add a natural wine bar serving Sephardi foods to the upstairs area, which will draw in the evening crowds.
Mendl gets it. If you can’t be there in person, send someone in to pick up some of their super cute merch, like a tote bag or t-shirt, to mail to you, or gather some of their assorted jarred goods including halva, preserved lemon and salsas. And start planning your trip to Mexico City for some of the best deli food in North America.
Mendl Delicatessen is located at Citlaltépetl 9, Hipódromo, Cuauhtémoc, Mexico City.
The post What may be the Americas’ best New York-style Jewish deli is in Mexico City appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Police are investigating an incident involving a man with a nail gun at an anti-Israel protest in Thornhill
York Regional Police arrested a man at a demonstration outside a synagogue Sunday, alleging he had brought a nail gun. The incident was still under investigation and no charges were laid, police said on Sunday afternoon. No injuries were reported at the protest The demonstration occurred outside the Aish Thornhill Community Shul, on Clark Ave. […]
An Ideology of Violence
JNS.org – When all is said and done, antisemitism is fundamentally an ideology of violence. Behind every missive and every barb—whether delivered online, at pro-Hamas rallies or graffitied on the walls of a Jewish communal building—is a message of dehumanization that licenses physical attacks on Jews and their property.
In the nearly five months that have passed since Hamas terrorists orchestrated the horrendous pogrom of Oct. 7 in Israel, antisemitic violence has exploded around the world. There are something like 16 million Jews around the globe, mainly concentrated in Israel and the United States, but with a presence in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Oceania as well. From what I can tell, there isn’t a single Jewish community that hasn’t been scarred by this latest wave of hostility.
Additionally, in the two decades that I’ve been writing about antisemitic violence, there hasn’t been a single episode in which the perpetrator was a public figure or someone with a media profile. I’m not referring here to the antisemitic rhetoric we’ve heard from influencers like the rapper Kanye West, or any number of the prominent elected officials flinging words like “genocide” in Israel’s direction, or asserting that Diaspora Jews who join the Israeli Defense Forces should be locked up on charges of treason and war crimes. I’m talking about the people who have crossed the line into assaults and even murder, which target Jews simply because they are Jews. The names of individuals we would otherwise have never heard of—like Kobili Traoré, who brutally murdered a Jewish woman, Sarah Halimi, in her Paris apartment in 2017; or Stephan Balliet, the German neo-Nazi who attempted to shoot up a synagogue in the city of Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur in 2019—are seared into our consciousness solely as a result of their bestial actions.
But that’s changing. Last week, police in the Australian city of Melbourne arrested a known pro-Hamas influencer, a woman who has the ear of some of that country’s elected representatives and whose past activities have earned her media coverage, on the charge of having masterminded the kidnapping and torture of a young man whose only offense was that he works for a Jewish employer.
The 28-year-old Lebanese-Australian woman, Laura Allam, is the CEO of the Al Jannah Foundation, which bills itself as an Islamic humanitarian organization. While Allam’s social-media profiles specify that she is still running Al Jannah, an entry on the Australian Register of Companies notes that the foundation ceased operations in July 2023, less than three years after it was formally incorporated. But while her humanitarian organization may be little more than a husk, Allam has made sure to keep her own voice alive within Australia’s internal debate on the war in Gaza—a debate which, like elsewhere, has been stained by antisemitic invective, conspiracy theories and bloodthirsty celebrations of Israeli deaths.
On Feb. 16, Allam’s pro-Hamas activities took an altogether more sinister turn. Along with an accomplice—identified by the blog Israellycool as Muhammad Sharab, a pro-Hamas fanatic whose social-media posts attacking Israel are decorated with images of samurai swords and ninjas—Allam is alleged to have seized her unnamed 31-year-old victim late at night in the Melbourne suburb of St. Albans at gunpoint. Because of the draconian restrictions imposed on reporting the case by the Australian authorities, who have banned the publication of Allam’s name and photograph by local media outlets, the full details of the assault have not been released. What we do know, though, is that the victim was so badly beaten that he required extensive hospital treatment.
Since the incident, Allam has remained silent, save for one final post on her Instagram account before it was shut down. With sickening self-regard, Allam depicted herself as a victim, ignored by unnamed “community leaders” who “turn around and say such abhorrent words like ‘this is not our fight’ while a woman in your community has now endured a lifetime of pain, suffering and trauma.” Such leaders, she went on, had nothing to fear from her, at least for the time being. “I pride myself in my selflessness (sic) and the idea of remaining quiet—for now,” she wrote. “Why? Well, I’d like to hope that you so-called ‘selfless individuals’ realize that if I decide to speak up on what has occurred, it will have the most detrimental effect on our community and every single effort we have put into our movement.”
Allam, it would seem, recognizes that her turn to antisemitic violence would be a setback for the community she claims to represent. Yet there is no apology on her part, merely a tactical decision to “remain quiet.” Quite the pledge from a woman with her record.
Before the news of the attack in Melbourne, Allam had already attracted national attention for her furious messages on social media. “Good riddance,” she declared on learning of the deaths of four IDF soldiers in Gaza. One day after the Oct. 7 pogrom, she announced that she had “woken up to some great news from our beloved Palestine.”
Allam’s rejoicing in the mass killing, rapes and mutilation that defined Oct. 7 were an obvious signal to Australian politicians to avoid any contact with her—but they didn’t. At a pro-Hamas demonstration outside the Australian parliament in Canberra at the beginning of February, Allam stood alongside senators from the left-wing Green Party, drawing a rebuke from TV host Andrew Bolt. “The Greens may not have known of Allam’s past, but this is who they find next to them in their gutter,” he stated, in a reference to the news in December that Allam was using the Al Jannah Foundation to resettle Palestinians from Gaza in Australia, which led opposition politicians to question whether supporters of Hamas were being imported into Australia under the guise of humanitarianism.
By orchestrating an assault on someone whose “offense” was to work for a Jewish employer, Allam ceased being a cheerleader for Hamas and became, in effect, a vehicle to spread its vengeance outside the Middle East. Cheering “resistance” is no longer enough for the pro-Hamas movement cluttering our schools, colleges and streets with their genocidal slogans; they are now duplicating those same “resistance” tactics to intimidate defenseless Jewish communities in their midst.
Allam may be a shocking example of this trend, but sadly, she is not the only one. Last week, Jewish students at the University of California, Berkeley were forced to evacuate a building where they were due to hold a meeting after pro-Hamas agitators gathered outside, banging on the windows and screaming “intifada, intifada.” Two Jewish students ended up being assaulted. If you study the video of that episode, you’ll be struck most of all by the demeanor of the mob, their faces a veritable picture of virtue signaling as they bellow “shame on you” at Jewish kids who were just trying to hold a get-together, but who were, in that moment, the embodiment of the hated Zionist state.
Our elected leaders—in the United States, in Europe and elsewhere—have failed us. Every outburst of antisemitic hatred in history has been directed by a mob, and the present situation is no different. Don’t fool yourselves; the mob is back, and this time it wears a keffiyeh rather than a swastika armband. If the authorities won’t expel these people from our campuses and imprison them when they engage in attacks on Jews, and if we are unwilling or unable to defend ourselves, we will find, sooner rather than later, that the only option we have is to head for the exits.
The Pro-Hamas Fifth Column Intends to Kill People
JNS.org – Sigmund Freud always took a somewhat jaundiced view of the human psyche, but in the wake of the horrors of World War I, it turned even darker. Confronted with mankind’s capacity to destroy itself, Freud concluded that within every living thing, there is a drive towards senescence and homeostasis—a state in which things do not change. The ultimate form of such a state, of course, is death. Thus, Freud believed, all life contains within it the seed of its own destruction and dissolution—a death drive.
But Freud understood that this was not simply a desire for stasis. In 1932, he wrote to Albert Einstein, “According to our hypothesis human instincts are of only two kinds: those which seek to preserve and unite… and those which seek to destroy and kill and which we group together as the aggressive or destructive instinct.”
These instincts are not always opposed, however. Freud asserted that “an instinct of the one sort can scarcely ever operate in isolation; it is always accompanied—or, as we say, alloyed—with a certain quota from the other side, which modifies its aim or is, in some cases, what enables it to achieve that aim.”
In the unity of sex and death, Freud implied, there comes a point at which the death drive becomes a desire for the orgasmic destruction of oneself and others. Sex enables death and vice-versa.
All of this came to mind when I read that a man named Aaron Bushnell had committed suicide by setting himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington while shrieking, “Free Palestine.”
I was neither shocked nor surprised by the news. It was inevitable from the moment the pro-Hamas fifth column in the United States began its pro-terror campaign. The instant the genocidists took to the streets, it was obvious that behind all the screaming and slogans was nothing more than an inchoate murderous rage. This rage has reached such a peak of intensity that it has ceased to be mere antisemitism. It is nothing but itself. It is the death drive. These people want to die and they want others to die. Worse still, they take pleasure in that desire and its consummation.
In Hamas’s case, the death drive took the form of mass murder. In Bushnell’s case, it took the form of suicide. One could say that this is a point in Bushnell’s favor. At least he didn’t try to take anyone else down with him. But his self-immolation has prompted statements from his ideological kin that point to something far more sinister.
Reporter Andy Ngo recently tweeted about a post on the anarchist website “CrimethInc.” featuring an email Bushnell apparently sent to the site stating his intentions. CrimethInc. seems to be dedicated to promoting illegal activities to further the anarchist cause. As such, its comments on Bushnell’s missive are disturbing, to say the least.
At first glance, it appears that the site simply wants to dissuade others from immolating themselves, saying, “Let’s not glamorize the decision to end one’s life, nor celebrate anything with such permanent repercussions. Rather than exalting Aaron as a martyr and encouraging others to emulate him, we honor his memory, but we exhort you to take a different path.”
The site never explicitly states what that “different path” might be. However, it does say, quite falsely, “All available evidence indicates that the Israeli military will continue killing Palestinians by the thousand until they are forced to stop.”
Given the necessity of forcing Israel to “stop,” the site muses, “If protests are going to exert leverage towards stopping the genocide, it is up to people in the United States to figure out how to accomplish that. But what will it take? Thousands across the country have engaged in brave acts of protest without yet succeeding in putting a halt to Israel’s assault.”
“If your heart is broken by the horrors in Gaza and you are prepared to bear significant consequences to try to stop them, we urge you to do everything in your power to find comrades and make plans collectively,” the site exhorts. “Lay the foundations for a full life of resistance to colonialism and all forms of oppression. Prepare to take risks as your conscience demands, but don’t hurry towards self-destruction. We desperately need you alive, at our side, for all that is to come.”
“All that is to come,” once again, goes unnamed, but the site reemphasizes, “Let’s admit that the kind of protest activity that has taken place thus far in the United States has not served to compel the U.S. government to compel a halt to the genocide in Gaza. It is an open question of what could accomplish that. Aaron’s action challenges us to answer this question—and to answer it differently than he did.”
The site is careful about its rhetoric to the point of esoteric writing, but there is a small indication of what it means by “differently.” It states, “If nothing else, Aaron’s action shows that genocide cannot take place overseas without collateral damage on this side of the ocean.”
It is quite clear what “collateral damage” means in this context: dead people. Such dead people will be produced, the site forthrightly states, “differently.” That is, they will not be produced by suicide. People will be murdered.
I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the implications of this are fairly obvious: The pro-Hamas fifth column in the U.S. intends to kill people. Given the atrocities of the current moment, it is impossible to imagine that most if not all of those people will be Jews. It seems that however careful they may be about saying so, the death cultists in the U.S. intend to imitate their fellow death cultists in Gaza. The death drive will seek to sate itself on American Jews as it did on Israeli Jews. The pleasures inherent are too much for the cultists to resist.
Major Jewish organizations, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and all relevant agencies should take note: Bushnell’s death was not just a suicide, it was also an exhortation to murder—and people are listening.