By Richard Friedman,
BJF Executive Director
The Internet works in mysterious ways.
With so much bad news posted in general — and countless complex stories about Jewish issues and Israel, in particular — I decided to do something the other day that I do every so often. I Googled “Alabama-Jews-Jewish-Israel.” I never know what’s going to come up when I do.
Sometimes it’s national and international stories that have appeared on Alabama websites, sometimes it’s just an announcement of a Jewish/Israel-related event somewhere in our state. But once in a while a gem comes up and that happened this time.
What came up on my screen was a story headlined, “Alabama Christian is Madison’s kosher king.” At first glance, I thought it was about someone cooking kosher food in the northern Alabama town of Madison. But then I read more, to my delight.
The story was actually about Madison, Wisconsin, home of the University of Wisconsin and the state’s capital. The article began with this: “Executive Chef Jason Kierce (pictured above) may be a Christian from Alabama, but if you’re looking for glatt kosher cooking or a large, luscious matzo ball about the size of a baseball, he’s your man.” (Glatt kosher often refers to strict adherence to Jewish dietary laws.)
The story turned out to be a wonderful feature from the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle on Kierce, who is from Birmingham. “He runs the only kosher-certified restaurant in the state capital, effortlessly salting conversation about his work with words like ‘hametz’ and ‘hechsher.’ Hametz refers to food you can’t eat on Passover. Hechsher refers to the mark of rabbinical approval, like the circle around a ‘u’ that’s placed on some foods.”
“If there’s anything else you need to know, just ask Kierce, who started cooking kosher in 2015 and later that year took the helm here at Adamah Neighborhood Table. The restaurant is mere steps away from…Madison Hillel,” the story continued, referring to a center for Jewish students.
“Having grown up in Birmingham, Alabama, earned a master’s in business administration, and worked in some of Madison’s fine restaurants, he admits he knew little about Judaism,” the story explained as it tells more about Kierce becoming a kosher chef.