Visiting iconic Upper West Side market Zabar's is a pilgrimage of sorts, especially at the fish counter, where skilled blade handlers hand slice thousands of pounds of smoked fish. One such craftsman is Len Berk, an 84-year-old lox slicer who's been working for Zabar's for almost 20 years. The Forward made a lovely video of Berk hard at work behind the counter, where he slices the fish into translucent pieces every Thursday and Friday. He also happens to be the last Jewish lox slicer employed by the store.
In the video, Berk briefly talks about his past life as a public accountant before selling his practice and taking on part-time work at Zabar's. "Work is one of the most important things in life. I have many friends that are ill, can't walk, can't speak, their minds are going; I feel very lucky. I'm in the middle of what is going on today."
Even after two decades behind the counter, Berk says he still hasn't made the perfect slice, but enjoys the intimate relationship he has with the fish. "I love running my hand across it; it's a very sensual experience," he says. "You could say I'm making love to the salmon."