Strange things definitely happen in this world. And one of the strangest things is the sudden decision by Russian billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak to cancel his purchase of 51% of the shares of the non-kosher food chain Tiv Taam. Gaydamak’s previous announced buy-out of Israel’s third largest supermarket chain, albeit non-kosher, and known affectionately by many as “the chazer store” (chazer in Yiddish meaning pork), became breaking news a few days ago; especially since Gaydamak announced that he planned to “convert” the food chain to one either not serving pork, or actually to one being certified as kosher.
The offered sum of $100 million must have been a worrisome amount for even someone like Arcadi, whose accumulated wealth is estimated at between 1.5 and 4 billion dollars. With all the media hype that has been thrown at everyone by the press (their favorite pastime) during the past few days, Arcadi must have begun to have second thoughts concerning the validity of his offer to the company controlled by financier Amit Berger and former Tiv Taam CEO Kobi Tribitch. So serious was Gaydamak’s reservations, he decided to reduce his offer by $10 million, with the likely idea that he would need to spend at least this amount to “Kosher” all the stores properly as well as absorb significant losses until the general public decided to once again purchase products at the Tiv Taam stores.
Even if pork and non kosher items were completely removed, including a big selection of non-kosher wines (one of the largest in Israel) there was still the matter of being open on the Jewish Sabbath and religious holidays. Consumers had gotten used to the convenience of being able to do their shopping there on both Friday evenings, until 8 p.m; and all day on Saturday. How Gaydamak would have gotten around this hurdle is still anybody’s guess.
So now the situation seems to have reverted to what it was before the earth shaking announcement of the proposed buyout less than ten days ago. One thing is for sure: non-kosher meat processing companies, including the one located at Kibbutz Mizra, located near Nazareth, are breathing a sigh of relief as a good deal of their income would have been lost had the deal actually gone through. And for those who appreciate being able to “run to the chazer store” for a few needed items on Shabbat, or for a tray or two of sushi, will now be able to continue to do so; unless some other billionaire like Lev Leviev (who is religious) might decide to purchase Tiv Taam and either ‘convert’ it to one selling only strictly kosher items or even close it down altogether.
Until that dark day happens, those who love wandering through what is considered a truly upscale European-style supermarket will still have the opportunity to do so.
Isn’t it interesting how things sometime work out for the best?