This article appeared on Page One of the Feb. 21, 2014 Jewish Advocate

Local fisherman has Jewish hook

From sea to thee: Kosher Catch delivers fresh fish

By Susie Davidson

Special to The Advocate

Jeffrey Ingber, seen here holding a tautog, is the founder and owner of Kosher Catch. Jeffrey Ingber, seen here holding a tautog, is the founder and owner of Kosher Catch.

My mission is simple,” said Jeffrey Ingber.

I fish for fun.”

His hobby, however, is under the Rabbinic Supervision of Rabbi Aaron Benjaminson of the Chabad of the South Coast in North Dartmouth.

Ingber is the founder and owner of Kosher Catch, which he bills as “New England’s Freshest Kosher Fish.” He also serves as a captain with Adventure Charters, a Narragansett, R.I.-based fishing tour company run by father and son Earl and Chris Bell. Adventure Charters, whose boats are used to catch the fish, sails from Jim’s Dock in Jerusalem, a Narragansett village on Point Judith, located across the harbor from Galilee, which is named for the biblical fishing community.

Each week, Ingber and his anglers deliver about 300 pounds of their bounty to individuals in local communities in Massachusetts, as well as Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. “We have customers in Sharon, Mass.; Providence, R.I.; and Barrington, R.I., as well,” said Ingber, who last delivered in the area on Feb. 19, to a pickup point on Priscilla Road in Brighton.

All of our cod, flounder, striped bass, bluefish and tuna are locally caught between Rhode Island and southern Maine,” said Ingber, who explained that it is caught by rod and reel, as opposed to large dragnets, which can also inadvertently trap other ocean creatures and fauna. His crew also hand-cuts each fish, either at sea or on land. Other offerings are sent to them daily as they are caught. “Our fresh sockeye salmon is flown in from Portland, Ore., along with our red snapper, which comes in from Texas or Florida’s west coast,” he said.

These two flukes caught by Kosher Catch went from the ocean to the table in less than 12 hours.

Other fisherman inAlaska, South Carolina and Georgia ship directly to them as well. Nothing is wasted. “Any fish we catch that we cannot sell, we either eat ourselves or donate the Rhode Island [Community Food Bank],” he said.

A native ofBrooklyn, N.Y., who lives in Providence with his wife and two children, Ingber was raised in a Conservative Jewish household and is now Orthodox. “One [child] is at Maimonides in Brookline, and the other goes to Ma’ayanot, an all-girls’ Orthodox yeshiva in Teaneck [N.J.],” he explained. Ingber enjoyed fishing as a kid in Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay with his uncle, Alan Stein. “I had a knack for it,” he said.

But the perils of the business are well known. The Advocate asked Ingber if he has been in any such danger. “We do not put anyone in harm’s way,”he stressed.“I fish in the cold, the heat, and the rain.”

He said wind is the most fearsome element. “But technology today allows us to know ahead of time what the conditions out on the water will be like,” he noted. “If we have to push off a delivery date due to rough seas, that’s what we do.” Therefore, there is no Noah-like situation or “Perfect Storm” for Kosher Catch.

The fishing industry has been under increased regulation lately, and Ingber follows it all.“I take it very seriously, regardless of the species we fish for,” he said. “If the regulations state that each angler can only keep six or eight fish, that’s what we do,” he said, while adding that he sometimes will ask others with commercial rod-andreel licenses to help them fill orders.

The Advocate also asked about sustainable fishing, such as that proudly promoted at stores like Whole Foods Market. “Most recreational and commercial rod-and-reel fishermen, and I would call myself both, are the only fishermen concerned about sustainability,” he replied. “Commercial draggers scoop up everything in the ocean when targeting a specific species, and kill what they do not want.This is tragic.”

Jeffrey Ingber’s nephew Ari (right) is among those who have helped catch fish for Kosher Catch.

Rod-and-reel fishermen, he explained, instead monitor themselves even more strictly than the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). “If they see stocks lower than they anticipate, they often keep less fish than the law allows,” he said. “It’s something that gives us great pride.”

Ingber was also asked about matters of the palate. What about smoking fish, which is a big part of traditional Jewish fare? “I have a client in New York named Sarena Kopciel, who smokes almost all of the fish we sell to her – salmon, cod, halibut,”he said.

Kopciel is one of many satisfied consumers. “After hearing so many reports of all the pollutants in fish, I started to just avoid it altogether,” said Chassi Rivkin of Morristown, N.J. “It was so hard to get any wild, fresh fish nearby.” But through a Facebook group, Rivkin learned about Ingber’s enterprise, and she began the Morristown delivery. “The fish is so fresh and delicious, and I am so happy that I am able to incorporate more fish into my diet,”she said.

The fish comes packed in a plastic container, and Ingber stressed that customers should not rinse it until just prior to cooking. “Chlorinated water speeds up the spoiling process,” he explained, “and we do not want that.”

Customers who are curious for a taste of the action can have those needs met as well. “We offer customers the opportunity to come fishing with us, for a fee, and they can keep all the fish they catch,” said Ingber.

A group of Satmar Chasidim from New York did just that this past summer. “We took them fishing 30 miles out of Gloucester, so that they could study the cod to determine how a parasite that is ingested by cod affects its flesh,” Ingber explained. “It was quite a fun trip, with 30 fishermen and 10 Chasidim in full regalia onboard a fishing vessel.”

The expedition side of the business is Adventure Charters. “Adventure Charters are the actual boats we use to catch most of our fish,” said Ingber. Other anglers who fish with him for Kosher Catch include Dave Garzolli, chef Daren Bulley of Divine Providence Catering, Larry Norin of Rock Spot Climbing (who was named the 2013 Rhode Island Salt Water Anglers Association Angler of the Year) and Michael Forstadt, who is president of Congregation Beth Shalom of Providence’s “BAIT Midrash” fishing club.

In addition to the business end and the mitzvah, Ingber said it remains, essentially, a good sport and a great time.

We are really recreational fisherman who turned a hobby into a business, solely by chance,” he said.

Visit www.adventurecharters.or or e-mail to obtain a monthly ordering guide or to book a trip.

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