Catholics toast their 'Jewish Pub'

By Nissan Tzur, June 10, 2011
Isabella Kozlowski

Isabella Kozlowski

Kamil and Izabella Kozlowski are a devoted Polish Catholic couple, but should you drop in to their restaurant in Lublin, you will feel as if you entered a warm Jewish home.

Hummus, cholent, gefilte fish, matzo-bray and even falafel await you, and should you turn up during Rosh Hashanah or Pesach, you will be sat down for a yomtov meal.

Guests are greeted with a warm "Shalom" in Hebrew and told - with a smile - why you will not be served meat and dairy together.

Ms Kozlowski, 36, opened "Mandragora" six years ago. "I had a dream to open my own restaurant, and it was obvious for me that it should be a Jewish one. I always felt close to Judaism," she says. Jewish symbols are everywhere in the restaurant, and there are Torahs on the shelves and pictures of Israel on the walls.

Two years after she opened the restaurant she met Kamil, her husband, who speaks fluent Hebrew after spending 15 years working in Israel. "We found a chef and took her to Israel, where she learned the cuisine," he said.

The interior of Kozlowski's ‘pub’

The interior of Kozlowski's ‘pub’

"By the way, you must know that Izabella is a walking encyclopedia on Judaism. There is little that you may ask her that she won't know."

How do the locals view this "small Jewish temple" and its unusual food?

"At first people didn't know what hummus or falafel were, but slowly they fell in love with the food. Mandragora is also a cultural institution. We are celebrate every Jewish holiday, we have often klezmer concerts
and more."

Last updated: 3:29pm, June 10 2011