March 30, 2023
Mahmoud Kasim first came to the United States on June 17, 1998 from the Old City of Jerusalem. As a teen, he worked for a man named Abu Hani at a small family restaurant in Jerusalem whose culinary training and flavors inspired him to open Bay Ridge establishment Al-Aqsa Bakery and Restaurant in 2018. For our #RamadanInNYC campaign, AAFSC and Epicenter NYC spoke to Mahmoud about his immigration story, the inspiration behind his food, and the meaning of Ramadan.
“Ramadan is my favorite month of the year and I am planning a lot of surprises. I’m going to cook my food, Palestinian food and also Lebanese, Syrian and some Egyptian,” he says. “[The fast] will be tough the first couple of days for me, but Ramadan is one of those beautiful months that will pass and we will miss it.” – Mahmoud, Owner of Al-Aqsa Bakery & Restaurant
During Ramadan, the restaurant will welcome new faces and expand out into the street to serve Mahmoud’s favorites – falafel, hummus, and shawarma sandwiches, to the community. Mahmoud is just one example of how immigrant New Yorkers are contributing to our city’s vibrant cultural and economic makeup. Want to learn more about Ramadan and iftar (meal eaten to break the fast) traditions? Stop into Al-Aqsa (6917 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY, 11209) around maghreb (sunset) and try their hummus and falafel. You can read the full Epicenter NYC article below.
Please also consider making a donation to AAFSC’s Ramadan Fund. Just $100 will provide a family with culturally appropriate food items to prepare an iftar during Ramadan. Together, we can step in and support NYC’s most vulnerable immigrant communities during this holy month of Ramadan.