Pasta and Puerto Rico

by Fay Kranz Greene - SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO

October 1, 2003

It’s hard to believe that a Chabad House in Puerto Rico—an island where no kosher meat, chicken, or dairy products are produced—can offer a kosher, gourmet menu of freshly prepared and beautifully packaged meals to any tourist who wants it.

A Chabad House in the restaurant business? Hardly.

Yet, when Mrs. Rochi Zarchi and her husband Rabbi Mendel Zarchi—Chabad representatives to this tropical island—moved here four years ago, they were quickly inundated with calls from many business people and tourists asking about kosher food.

Responding to this need, Mrs. Zarchi first ordered frozen Chinese dinners from New Jersey and sold them at cost. But people were limited to what she had in the freezer. “I never had the right meals available” she said. “If they wanted beef, I had chicken and if they wanted chicken, I had beef.”

So one day while working in the kitchen preparing to host a Chabad House program, “it came to me: I may as well just cook the food myself.” And in short order Mrs. Zarchi became a gourmet cook (menu available at (, and the organization benefited from the added income.

The mother of three small children, Zarchi also teaches at their Chabad Hebrew School, and together with her husband directs Chabad Lubavitch activities in Puerto Rico.

That this is a labor of love is evidenced by the fact that no pre-payment is required. “We pay for everything in advance and enclose an envelope with the meals” says Zarchi.

“Recently I was on my way out the door to give one of the kids a haircut and I got a call that someone needs food.”

“I said to my son, we’re not going. There is a Jew out there who is hungry and he doesn’t have kosher food.”

For Chabad of Puerto Rico, that's the bottom line.

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