With the backing of the Rohr Foundation and Merkos Chabad, and with the encouragement of Rabbi Shlomo Amar (then Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel) and of Rabbi Moshe BenTov, Sephardic Kabbalist; the Kaplan family arrived in Salonika in 2009.
Their mission was to kindle the revival of the Sephardic-Ladino heritage and to develop Jewish infrastructure to accommodate the rejuvenation of Jewish life in the Balkans.
The establishment of Balkan Kosher was one of Rabbi Kaplan’s first projects as a means of developing this infrastructure.
One of the goals of Balkan Kosher is to support the local economy by opening opportunities for Greek and Balkan exports to Israel, the USA, to Europe, Asia and more.
To this end, Rabbi Kaplan is in contact with government agencies and travels the world to provide business opportunities for companies in the Balkan food industry and to bring much needed kosher ingredients to Greece and the Balkans.
International cultural and government events are now much easier to host in the Balkans, because of the availability of kosher food and hospitality made possible through the work of Balkan Kosher.
Another obvious goal has been to supply kosher food for the Chabad activities in Thessalonika, Montenegro, Albania and the Balkans; as well as Balkan Jews and tourists with kosher food and accommodations.
Previously, visitors to Thessalonika had great difficulty finding kosher food and accommodations. Those Jews seeking family and Ladino ties are now able to make the pilgrimage to “La Madre de Israel” with comfort, ease and fully kosher accommodations (both luxury and budget).
We are proud to have helped Thessalonika to become a prime tourist destination, with kosher food and hotels available, so that visitors can explore the rich Jewish history and beautiful Greek countryside and islands.
While kosherizing local Balkan food products throughout the Balkans, many lives are being touched by the frequent stopovers of Rabbi Yoel Kaplan as he attends to the needs of Jews in cities scattered throughout the Balkan countryside; as well as by the constant presence of Rabbi Yossi Kaplan in Thessalonika.
Kosher Balkan is a non-profit branch of Balkan Jewish Communities Charitable organization, dedicated to providing the infrastructure of Jewish life in the Balkan States and supporting local enterprise.
Rabbi Yoel Kaplan
Chief Rabbi in the Balkan countries
Chabad Shliach to Thessalonika and the Balkan Countries
Rabbi Yosef Kaplan
Rabbinic Coordinator Chabad Shliach to Thessalonika
Chabad Shliach To Thessalonika