This story is part of 1 Minute Meal, a documentary series that uses food to reveal the communities, legacies, dreams, realities and unseen forces that shape life in New York City.
David’s Brisket House has always been a summary statement for Brooklyn: a Jewish deli that’s decades old, is run by a Muslim family, and serves a neighborhood immortalized in popular culture by Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” While David’s pastrami sandwiches may be as pure in flavor as any in New York, the business is a poster child for the integration of cultures across barriers of race, faith and nationality.
Co-owner Riyadh Gazali, his son Aladdin, and the rest of the David’s crew knows this and embraces the concept fully. After the Trump Administration decided to include Yemen in its travel ban, Gazali decided to support Breaking Bread NYC, a local group of food tour guides and writers that sets up fundraising dinners to support and spread awareness about those countries listed in the ban. Every couple of weeks, David’s Brisket house has been staying open an extra two hours to serve pastrami, brisket and other Jewish deli staples in the spirit of unity. The deli plans on hosting these dinners until they stop selling out, which has yet to happen.
For Gazali, the principle behind these dinners goes far beyond recent political events. Before his family took full ownership of David’s, his uncle ran the business with a Jewish partner, setting an example of interfaith cooperation that sticks with the family and with the business to this day. And while the future of the U.S. travel ban is an open question, the open door on Nostrand Ave remains as sure as soft rye, Gulden’s mustard and Cel-Ray soda. Breaking Bread’s next dinner at David’s will take place on Thursday August 3; you can buy tickets here. Proceeds will go to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a Jewish humanitarian non-profit organization that provides aid to refugees.
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