A Mississippi rabbi said he was kicked out of an eatery after the owner learned he was Jewish.
Rabbi Ted Riter said he went Tuesday for lunch to Wraps gyro shop at a Jackson strip mall, where he ordered a Greek salad, reported the Jackson Clarion Ledger.
“A full size or a Jewish size” Riter said the owner asked him.
The rabbi said he asked the owner what he meant by that, and the man said: “It’s small. Jews are cheap and small. Everybody knows that.”
Riter told the newspaper he was shocked, and the man asked him if he was Jewish.
When the rabbi said yes, he said he was told to leave the restaurant.
“Expletives, F-bombs, and since I’d never been the recipient of that before, I was in shock, so I didn’t register it until the second or third time he told me to leave,” Riter said. “It was a bit surreal, so I left.”
The restaurant owner, John Ellis, called the Clarion-Ledger to explain the incident was result of a miscommunication.
“If we misunderstood each other, I’d gladly embrace him and make friends,” Ellis said. “It was extremely busy, he was extremely indecisive. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a small place like this, but if he misunderstood me, I’m sorry.”
Ellis, who also goes by Yianni Allis, said he hoped to meet sometime with Riter – and the rabbi said he would “gladly accept” the offer.
“If this man is a holy man and a man of the cloth, maybe he should be saying, ‘It’s my misunderstanding,'” Ellis said. “We didn’t beat him up, we didn’t damage him in any way. There’s cameras over here, they made us look like villains, and we’re getting phone calls telling us this and that. We’re not cruel people, we’re just trying to make a living.”
The shop owner said he sells a Jewish salad that includes potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, grilled onions, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
However, the newspaper reported, that item is not listed on the Wraps menu posted on Yelp.
A woman who answered the phone at Wraps said Ellis is friendly and had “no racial problems,” but she conceded “he has his own sense of humor.”
Customers praised the food, but at least one compared Ellis to the “soup Nazi” character on “Seinfeld.”
“I had heard that it could be a little soup naziesque if you don’t watch it,” the customer said. “If you hack off the owner… well that may change your experience here. I didn’t have that experience.”
Riter said he never identified himself as a rabbi, and said that wasn’t pertinent, anyway, but Ellis said he was aware of that before the incident.
“I heard from the grapevine that he’s a rabbi, that’s all,” Ellis said. “I don’t know who’s the rabbi and who’s not a rabbi.”
Watch an interview with Ellis posted online by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger: