Monday, March 15, 2010

Mea Shearim Discovers Ice Cream; Thousands Line Up For Free Taste

Stories have been appearing in the Israeli business press over the past month about the imminent opening of a new ice cream chain in charedi neighborhoods.  The chain, called Zisalek (from the Yiddish, "sweet lick,") finally opened last Friday in the ultra-orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem, and the hysteria that it caused was beyond belief.

More than 6,000 yeshiva students, rabbis, women, and children waited in line for a free sample for six hours as the main street of Mea Shearim was closed to traffic.  The lines formed at 6 am and didn't end until it was almost Shabbat.  As late as 2 pm, when store management asked customers to leave because they wanted to prepare for Shabbat, they continued to bang on the windows in their desire to get a sample.

What we have taken for granted for all these years turns out to be a wonder in the charedi world.  To a consumer base that has never seen an ice cream parlor, the appeal of strictly kosher dairy and pareve ice cream in 37 flavors, plus frozen yogurt and waffles was just too great to resist.

As Ofer Petersburg reported in
A secular man who happened to walk by felt as if he had just stepped out of a time machine: "Such a long queue? For ice cream?" 

"What is this white, fluffy, sweet thing that looks like a cotton ball?" asked an elderly rabbi holding an ice cream cone for the first time in his life. "Whipped cream," the salesman explained, and the rabbi rushed to a nearby stairwell to lick the delicacy in private, so as not to be seen – God forbid – enjoying one of the pleasures of life.

Like what happened just the day before in Tel Aviv's Azrieli during the H&M opening the day before, in Mea Shearim too babies were crushed by the masses of people, children lost their parents, women blended with men, and all for one small ice cream cone. The police were forced to close the street to traffic in order to prevent a disaster.
The public quickly got attached to the new product. "Don’t destroy the shape, it will be a shame," one woman told the salesman as she watched him approaching a large chunk of Oreo ice cream covered with real chocolate balls in order to move part of it to the cone.
A commotion broke out when Neturei Karta members arrived with loudspeakers and called out to the crowd: "Modesty, gentlemen, modesty. We don't want any mix up here. Women must not be with men."
The ice cream chain's owner, Yaakov Halperin, immediately organized two queues, one for men and one for women. Iron barriers were dispatched to the area and the men and women were separated. Each time, eight men were allowed to enter the store, followed by eight women.
(Photos by Tzvika Tishler)


  1. I think this whole thing is ridiculously untznius, and may encourage people to eat ice cream on Shabbos, which would be catastrophic because it changes its shape as it melts.

  2. I wonder if the crowds were so huge because ice cream was new to these frummies or - maybe - could it be - because it was FREE?! Ummm?

    Sharon M.