Catholic and Kosher in Rhode Island

Friday, January 12, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
The Admiral Weaver Inn, the only kosher bed and breakfast in Rhode Island, is run by a practicing Roman Catholic.

She may not know much about Jewish dietary laws, but Mary Ellen Newbury relies on the advice of the rabbi of a nearby Orthodox synagogue to ensure that her guests’ religious needs are met.

Basic kosher dietary rules are observed such as a prohibition against eating non kosher foods. In order to keep her kitchen kosher, Newbury prepares meat and dairy meals with separate kitchen utensils and plates and cooks them in separate ovens so milk and meat don’t mix. She keeps bacon and shellfish far from the house.

Food entering the house from the outside requires the approval of the Orthodox rabbi at the nearby Touro Synagogue.

“The challenge is to make sure that no mistakes occur in the kitchen, that the kosher standard is sufficient for everyone who would stay there,” said Rabbi Mordechai Eskovitz of the Touro Synagogue.

The 1860s six-bedroom inn in the beach city of Newport, established five years ago, boasts a unique commitment to the Jewish tradition and standards and includes unique features such as Hebrew prayer books and mezuzahs.

Out of respect for her Jewish guests Newbury refrains from watching television at the inn on the Jewish Sabbath. But in keeping with her own faith, she leaves the inn Sunday mornings to attend Mass.

While she answers questions about the inn’s kosher observances, Newbury doesn’t consider herself an expert on all things Jewish, especially when talk turns to Jewish theology and doctrines.

“Anything about religion goes right to rabbi,” she said. “I don’t even touch that. That’s not my area, that’s his area.”

The inn was established by a Ukrainian immigrant looking to give something back to the Jewish community.

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