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TikTok endorsement of Iowa’s sole kosher deli piles on the orders

Maccabee’s has seen hundreds of new customers from a single one-minute video.

Lubavitch of Iowa Torah Center and Maccabee’s Kosher Deli in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Jackson Richman/JNS.
Lubavitch of Iowa Torah Center and Maccabee’s Kosher Deli in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Jackson Richman/JNS.

Sarah Booz, a recent transplant to the Midwest from New York, found a familiar taste of home more than 1,100 miles away.

In a video that has now received more than 275,000 views (and counting), the TikTok creator praises the food and overall experience at Maccabee’s Kosher Deli in the capital city of Iowa. Wearing brightly colored glasses, Booz starts the video by saying: “I found a New Yorker-owned Jewish deli in Des Moines, and I am so happy.”

She describes how the deli’s owner, Rabbi Yossi Jacobson, “immediately clocked me as both not from Iowa and vaguely Jewish, like as soon as I walked in.” Jacobson, from the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., is the director of Lubavitch of Iowa. (He is not unaccustomed to being in the limelight; the deli draws politicians from all over come election time for the Iowa Caucus.)

Booz reports choosing a pastrami sandwich “to split with my fiancé.”

The video then turns humorous as Booz details the ordering experience, saying a man “who is not a New York Jew” asked her to choose her bread and condiments. Jacobson jumped in, yelling from the back that she wanted rye, “which was correct,” Booz confirms.

Then when asked about toppings, the Chabad rabbi, who has lived in Des Moines for 30-plus years, raising seven children with his wife, said: “She’s from New York. She wants deli mustard and onions.” Again, correct.

The video concludes with Booz blowing a chef’s kiss and reassuring anyone who needs a reminder of New York’s kosher offerings smack-dab in the center of the United States that “it’s perfect.”

The result of this short, simple and sincere recommendation? Hundreds of new customers and coverage on the local ABC-affiliate news station, which reported that demand had grown so large that Maccabee’s ran out of challah and rye bread in the wake of the video.

Jacobson said: “I’m telling you, it’s booming. I have to go up and get more meat to feed the community. We never saw this before!”

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