The corner of Hamilton Town Center on Gunbarrel Road in East Brainerd just got a little sweeter with the opening of Abraham's Kosher and Parve Bakery.

The new business gives the area a place to find pastries that are all kosher and dairy free.

Edith Martinez and husband, Eloy, opened the bakery in early February. They had once owned a kosher bakery in Florida.

Business was brisk there, Mrs. Martinez said, and the couple hopes the same will be true in their new location.

Though kosher diets are most commonly associated with members of the Jewish faith, Mrs. Martinez said there are others, including Seventh-day Adventists, who follow kosher-style eating habits.

With relatives who belong to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Martinezes became familiar with their cooking methods.

The Martinezes pride themselves in the quality and prices of their baked goods, with big muffins selling at 55 cents, large cupcakes 75 cents and large cakes with a choice of icings and fillings going for $14.99. All are made from scratch.

Rabbi Meir Goldstein of B'nai Zion Congregation certified the bakery as kosher and said that though there are other bakeries in town preparing kosher foods with a couple of parve (dairy free) offerings, "What's unique about Abraham's is that everything that's baked there is considered parve. And this is the only bakery doing it."

Kosher and parve foods are important in the Jewish faith because dairy items cannot be served with meals that include meat. So desserts must be parve, the rabbi said.

In order to be considered kosher, the meat and the slaughtering process must be in accordance with Jewish law, Rabbi Goldstein said.

There were three areas he had to consider to give the bakery its certification.

First, all ingredients used by the bakery had to be kosher and parve. "That was easy because I didn't have to worry about any mixing of ingredients that weren't kosher or parve," he said.

Secondly, he checked out the instruments used in cooking and the ovens to make sure they were clean and not used to prepare non-kosher items.

Lastly, said Rabbi Goldstein, the bakery would have to follow the Jewish holidays as well as close for the Sabbath.

He said that "this would not have made me deny kosher certification, but could have made it more complicated."

The Martinezes already had that on their schedule. So certification was achieved.

"There are a number of other religions that have dietary customs. And kosher and parve is also a diet used by many vegetarians," the rabbi said. "There's a gaining consciousness about the way our food comes to us and the responsibility that we have as consumers and eaters."

In addition to being a kosher/parve bakery, Abraham's has items that are also sugar-free.

"I'm diabetic. That's the point," Mrs. Martinez said. "I told my husband that he needed to start making some things I could eat, too."

There are now just a couple of sugar-free items, such as apple streudel, Mrs. Martinez said. But as business gets stronger, more sugar-free items will be added, she said.

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