SOS from Leeds' Pesach pop-up: 'Support Our Shop'

Leaders warn service will become 'unsustainable' if local consumers buy their festival products out of town


The organisers of a Pesach pop-up shop in Leeds have urged community members to buy their Passover supplies there, rather than out of town.

Simon Williams, who started the service four years ago with another longstanding community member, Marshall Frieze, said: “While we are not a big community, we are still sustainable.

“The only way for us to fulfil Pesach for customers is for the Leeds Jewish community to support the shop. If they don’t, it becomes unsustainable.”

The duo, who both have retail backgrounds, initially stepped into the breach when the only kosher deli in Leeds closed just before the festival.

“We set up a business, got a benefactor to loan us money, purchased the stock and opened the shop for two weeks,” Mr Williams recalled. “We saved Pesach.”

Since then, the annual enterprise has been sponsored by Gourmet Foods, the city’s kosher butcher, and operates from the premises of Etz Chaim Synagogue.

Mr Williams stressed that it was “a pure service that Gourmet provides to the community and there is no profit”. And it was becoming harder to break even.

While appreciating increases in commodity and transport costs, it was difficult explaining to customers why they had to pay more for a kosher l’Pesach item.

“I find it challenging that some suppliers are not considerate of the importance of people eating kosher. By putting prices up, it makes Pesach more inaccessible.

“One of the pillars of Jewish life is to eat kosher and we are creeping towards the price being an obstacle, particularly among low income families, and charity only goes so far.”

When synagogues were shut during the lockdown two years ago, the pop-up had to hastily switch to a delivery and order and collect service. Some supplies had to be rationed but they were still able to fulfil over 600 orders in ten days.

This year, 3,500 cartons of Pesach food have been ordered to help keep the community well fed over the festival.

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