A popular kosher café on the Upper East Side has recently become the target of repeated antisemitic incidents, prompting its owner to call for increased action from city officials.
Hummus Kitchen, located on Second Avenue, experienced a troubling event last Sunday. A woman attempted to obscure an Israel/US flag at the café, pushed a staff member, and then left the scene displaying an offensive gesture. This unsettling episode was captured on video and circulated on social media.
This incident followed a similar confrontation on December 13, where a woman from Paterson, New Jersey, attempted to remove the café’s flag in an antisemitic outburst. She also threw soup at an employee and made a rude gesture before leaving.
Sharon Hoota, the Israeli owner of the café, expressed her concern for her employees’ safety and comfort. “It’s disheartening and infuriating that we have to feel fearful about displaying our flags,” she said. Hoota is frustrated with the city’s lack of response in providing a sense of security.
The New York Police Department has not yet apprehended the initial aggressor, despite identification efforts by local media. The woman, known online as the “Soup Nazi,” was confronted at her home in New Jersey but has not been detained.
In the more recent incident, footage shows a young woman initiating an unwarranted altercation, expressing disdain towards the Israeli flag, shoving an employee, and making an offensive gesture before being expelled from the restaurant by staff. Her identity was revealed by an antisemitism watchdog group, but she has since deactivated her social media account and has not responded to inquiries.
Hoota, 46, expressed her astonishment at the boldness of these individuals who target her establishment because of its national symbolism. “We are here to unite people through food, not to make political statements,” she stated. “Unfortunately, it seems peace isn’t a universal language, even when it comes to something as simple as hummus.”
Hummus Kitchen first opened in Hell’s Kitchen in 2008 and expanded to the Upper East Side location in 2009. Hoota had hoped for a safer city under Mayor Eric Adams’ leadership, citing his previous statements on protecting Jewish and Israeli communities. However, she feels that the recent events have left her and her business vulnerable.
The café owner urges for more visible police presence and enforcement of laws against illegal protests and vandalism. “Actions must be taken to prevent such hostility and ensure safety for everyone,” Hoota concludes.