Snapshot: River Cafe Offers Elegant Respite for Visitors to Chasam Sofer's Kever
By David J. Glenn
Until recently, the hundreds of people coming daily to visit or daven at the gravesite of the Chasam Sofer, Rav Moshe Sofer, in Pressburg (Bratislava), Slovakia in Eastern Europe had nowhere to rest or have kosher food, and had to leave just about as soon as they came.
But last summer the non-profit Chasam Sofer Heritage Foundation, under the auspices of Rabbi Shmuel Ludmir, Rav of Pressburg London, opened the River Café just meters from the iconic River Danube, to offer sandwiches, pastries, and other dairy or pareve fare amid the ambience of an elegant restaurant but with fair pricing.
"It offers a place to relax and rest for all those coming to the Chasam Sofer's tziyun," said Rochelle F., who oversees the Cafe, which she said is almost a destination in itself.
The Café is under the strict supervision of Keddasia London and the menu is in Hebrew as well as English. There is also a steady stream of Jewish music "to make our patrons even more comfortable," she said.
While Pressburg is only 40 minutes from Vienna, for those on a trip to other holy sites, it provides a convenient stop, being only a 2 hours drive from Budapest, 3 hours from Prague and 4 hours from Kerestir.
The Café also provides packed lunches for groups and private catered meals in house or in the Hachnosas Orchim premises.
There was a vibrant Jewish community in the Pressburg area which thrived for 800 years until the Nazis invaded, Rochelle said. "Few Jews were left after the Holocaust, but starting in the 1990s there was a resurgence."
Now there is a shul in the Hachnosas Orchim building adjacent to the Tziyun, the five-star Grand Hotel River Park from Marriott directly across the street, and even a zoo "for families to enjoy," she said.
"We really want people to feel comfortable and taken care of " Rochelle says.