For the small, southern community of some 700 Jewish families in Wilmington, N.C., buying kosher meat no longer requires travelling hundreds of miles or owning an industrial size freezer.

Thanks to Rabbi Moshe and Chana Lieblich installing one next to the synagogue at Chabad-Lubavitch of Wilmington, community members need travel no further than their own neighborhood for a variety of meats, including kosher chicken, beef, lamb, hotdogs and hamburgers.

“The freezer makes getting kosher meat really accessible,” said Devorah Jenson, who lives five miles from the Chabad House. “Before, we had to get our meat when we would travel out of town. But now we have it here.

“It’s just so amazing,” she further gushed. “I’m so proud to have this here in our community.”

Through an agreement with Griller’s Pride, an Atlanta-based butcher and kosher meat store, Chabad of Wilmington was able to install the 20-cubic-foot freezer on consignment, helping to fulfill a goal set by the Lieblichs upon their arrival two years ago to increase the awareness and availability of kosher food in their new community.

Early sales were brisk.

“We were looking to sell this meat to provide a service to the community. Promoting kosher eating is important for every community,” said the rabbi. “If you are what you eat, then eating kosher food affects us on many levels.”

Shai Shalit, who once owned a kosher restaurant in Wilmington, asserted that the business model could be successful in other communities.

The new freezer at the Chabad House was installed in partnership with Atlanta, Ga.-based butcher Griller’s Pride.
The new freezer at the Chabad House was installed in partnership with Atlanta, Ga.-based butcher Griller’s Pride.

“It gives people more access to kosher food, and will affect the community in a very good way,” said Shalit, an Israeli who has lived in Wilmington for the past 15 years. “Before, at least 50 percent of the people here had excuses why they couldn’t eat kosher, but now, they have direct access to meat every time they want it.

“Now we can even have families who keep kosher moving to this area,” he added.

According to the Lieblichs, the Wilmington area counts some 20 kosher households, a number he expects to grow. When the freezer had been available for just one week, he noted, he had already met two new people who had never before visited the Chabad House.

“This is tremendous feedback,” said Lieblich. “Others who didn’t keep kosher before will have a big push to reconsider doing so now.”

For Jenson, who is originally from the Boston area – where kosher meat is always readily available – the freezer, though a “small step,” will make a significant difference in her life.

“I can get everything that the kids like now and can even request what I want, without having to meet a minimum-order amount,” she said. “I can’t see how this won’t help our community.”