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Hackensack Butcher Has 'Nose-To-Tail' Philosophy

Rabbi Avidan Elkin examines a carcass in his Hackensack office.
Rabbi Avidan Elkin examines a carcass in his Hackensack office. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine
Elkin prepares his tools.
Elkin prepares his tools. Photo Credit: Facebook

HACKENSACK, N.J. — Rabbi Avidan Elkin has a meat-cutting philosophy that's equal parts tradition and innovation.

The kosher butcher left a five-year term as rabbi of a Fair Lawn community when its temple went under after the 2008 economic crisis.

He opened Bisra Meats in Hackensack about a year later at 75 Burlews Ct.

“I ended up having the same dilemma that butchers for thousands of years have had,” Elkin said.

“I had a big, beautiful piece of meat and nothing to do with it.”

The rabbi purchased several books on smoking, salting and curing —and even though they were all for pork products, he experimented with kosher cuts.

Elkin travels to slaughterhouses up and down the East Coast, fetching carcasses for preparation at his Hackensack office.

“Every single cut is good for something else,” he said. “And if you don’t know what to do with it, it’s your shortcoming, not the animal’s.”

Tender loins and tri-tips were never on the menu for Jewish immigrants, who could only afford the cheapest cuts, the rabbi said.

On rare occasions they’d buy a brisket or a rib steak if they wanted to splurge, but there was no demand for the prime hind-quarters cuts.

“The kosher market is still built for poor, illiterate immigrants, and the ones who appreciate quality are the ones who don’t eat kosher,” Elkin said. “My job is to make more things kosher for people to eat as much as they can."

Elkin recently obtained a loan that will pay for a license that will enable him to resell his products at wholesale supermarkets.

“I can’t blame people for having appetites,” he said. “I can only blame authorities for not being accommodating and fighting to get these things done.”

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