Michelle Gabison isn’t trying to do anything groundbreaking, but the interfaith cooperation on display at La Marina, the kosher restaurant she runs with her husband in the ethnically diverse Parisian neighborhood of Pantin, isn’t as common as you’d think.
Gabison, a Tunisian Jew who has run the restaurant with her husband for four years, employs some Jews but mostly works with Arabs and Chinese. Her upmarket restaurant, which serves everything from pastas and salads to sushi platters, is a central meeting place for Parisian Jews.
Though Gabison recieves occasional complaints from customers uncomfortable with or not used to Arab waiters, she said the experiment on the whole could not have worked better.
"Customers appreciate the diversity," she said. "And it’s very difficult to find Jews to work in the restaurant."
Though many kosher restaurants in Paris work with Arabs, Gabison’s is somewhat unique because its Arab workers serve food and interact with customers, as opposed to just serving as cooks and delivery workers.
Gabison employs about four Jews and about 20 Arabs and Chinese.
She’s not trying to make a statement, she told me — she’s just trying to run a business.
"All people are human for me," she said. "Jew, Arab — it’s the same."