Shortly before the last semester ended, I went out with some colleagues to an Indian restaurant in the nearby urban center. That location had been chosen because one of my colleagues is an observant Jew, and this restaurant is certified kosher. As I understand the situation, it’s one of the few kosher restaurants in our area.
During dinner, the conversation turned to what is required to certify a restaurant as kosher–in particular, how often does the restaurant have to be inspected? My Jewish colleague wasn’t certain, but he figured it must be frequently, at least once a week. That was more frequent than I would have expected. Someone caught the hostess’s eye as she passed and asked her. She said the rabbi came to inspect at least once a day. In fact, she said, he’s here now–and pointed to a table in the back where two youngish middle-aged men in suits were sitting.
My Jewish colleague smiled and shrugged. “It’s a racket.”
“Hey, free Indian food every day,” said the South Asianist.
Later I got to wondering if the presence of images in the restaurant is a potential problem for this Orthodox Jewish-Hindu symbiosis. If the owner has an image of Krishna on display, for instance, or a shrine to Ganesha in the back–would idolatry on the premises render the restaurant halachically unacceptable?