I have the privilege of giving weekly shiurim in a shul in brooklyn.
They asked me to speak about the following issue that has come up.
As any good shul in brooklyn we have a hot kiddush every shabbos, and over the course of the year there has been some disagreement as to which caterer to use.
This is how the question was presented to me:
Assuming the kashrus and price is similiar would any particular caterer have kideema if:
a. a member of the board has a brother in law who owns a take-out in flatbush.
b. an old friend of the kehilla (who is a tremendous baal chesed and is a member of hatzala) has that business as well
c. there is a new place that opens up near our shul, should we try to support him
d. the gabbai in charge of ordering the food and dealing with the caterer prefers a specific place for convenience…….
What would be the order of kideema in deciding which store to buy from.
Preference for purchasing is found in Chazal with reference to buying from a Jewish merchant over a non Jewish merchant. Rashi in Parshas Behar 25-14, brings from Toras Kohanim this obligation. The Rama in his Tshuvos [siman 10] proves from the Gemara in Bava Metzia 71 that this applies even when the Jewish merchant is more expensive, see also Ahavas Chesed [5-7] who codifies this rule.
In Tshuvos Vehanhagos [C:M 805], Rav Sternbuch extends this to patronizing a Shomer Torah U’Mitzvos over a non religious Jew. See also Minchas Yitzchak [3 – 129].
In a number of places the Chofetz Chaim in Ahavas Chesed applies the rules of kedima from Tzedaka to purchasing as well. See Chapter 6 [s”k 14] that a talmid chacham has kedima to purchase form over others, see 6 – 4 with regards to a relative. In 6 – 2 he mentions the kedima of a neighboor over others. This would seem to refer to one who lives nearby and not just has his business nearby.
To apply these rules to your case is somewhat unclear. While there is a relative to the board member, he is not the one making the purchase and would not incur kedima. The one opening a store near the shul is probably not a “neighboor” as the proximity is to his store, not home. Showing Hakaras Hatov to a friend of the shul and community would seem to give some priority as would the convenience of the Gabbai, especially if he is not payed for his work. However these last 2 criteria are not strict halachic guidelines, rather the general principle of ועשית הישר והטוב. So common sense needs to be used, perhaps a rotation of caterers would be appropriate.