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Shalom and Banzai

The Kosher Sushi Club is for everyone

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Kosher sushi? Really? "The name Kosher Sushi Club was always a bit of a lark, a play on cultural trends within the hipster Jewish community," says Ran Mano, a founding member of the St. Louis Kosher Sushi Club. "For whatever reasons, a lot of young Jews eat sushi regularly. So we started our club and invited everyone along. All five founding members are Jewish."

The group, which informally began in 2001, became official with the launch of its Web site in 2002. While much of the membership is Jewish, anyone is welcome to join; just bring along a love of good sushi and interesting people. "Our last meeting had an African-American, a Muslim, a Russian, some Israelis and even an American Jew or two," reports Mano.

Landlocked St. Louis may have a surprising amount of sushi joints, but what does the group do when a restaurant is definitely not kosher? Mano explains: "As Bill Clinton would postulate, 'it all depends what is is.' It comes down to the level of Kashrut (kosher law) that a person adheres to. Under the orthodox interpretation, almost no restaurants are kosher. Having pork or shrimp in the same kitchen unsanctifies all food coming from that establishment. Needless to say, we don't have any orthodox members. I'm an exception. I eat tuna, salmon and egg dishes but stay away from eel, shrimp and other [non-kosher foods]. Granted, I do this in restaurants that serve non-kosher items, but I'm willing to make that compromise. Everyone finds his or her tolerance level, and we don't judge. People eat what they want."

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