I have a neighbor who is a physician who switched twenty five years ago from his Conservative upbringing to Orthodoxy because the latter offered a Yuppie lifestyle (bye bye Maneschewitz and chopped liver, hello Cheers Italian restaurant) and rational medical ethics (bye bye appeals to tradition).
So, what now?
Food has changed for many Americans, as Anthony Bourdain wrote in the NYT last week “Foodie Nation” (December 27, 2009)
Something important happened to my former profession in 2007. I’m still unsure what, exactly — but there was a shift, the world of food tilting on its axis. Dining rooms were busy with ever more food-obsessed, better-informed customers…Chefs were now trusted enough to persuade customers to try what they themselves loved to eat. Hence the hooves and snouts and oily little fishes that increasingly popped up on menus
Or Wikipedia states:
. . . foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news . . . foodies want to learn everything about food, both the best and the ordinary, and about the science, industry, and personalities surrounding food.
So my question is: How will this play itself out in religious groupings? Not everything is theology or law, people like to live their lives with those of similar lifestyles. How will those who go to Fairway to prepare for Shabbat only when they cannot get to a farmers market play itself out? How will those who prefer cerviche to gefilte fish create demarcations? or artisan bread in place of sugary egg challah? (once upon a time – the move from Orthodoxy to Conservative included a switch from herring to lox.)
From the other direction- will those who crave the heimish cholent or the frat house buffalo wings create community distinctions? Parts of Orthodoxy have actually been going with this trend as the restaurant Solo has hired 2 of the Top Chefs as consultants and there will be a molecular gastronomy restaurant similar to the non-kosher WD-50 opening in Jerusalem.
These shifts are never single cause and involve broader lifestyle changes. If the person that I mentioned at the start found doctors becoming Orthodox (there was still unwritten quotas and restricted positions for Jews entering medicine before). Yesterday’s NYT said that some of the in new fields will be narrative medicine, high tech security, and sustainable energy-solar energy. Whichever group gets there first with the “torah of the imperative of solar energy” or “halakhot of security” wins them as congregants. This is not so far off since on linkedin – among the friends of my Israeli friends- the largest number work for NICE systems- which develops high tech security. Have you heard any shiur geared to that industry lately?
So which rabbi or community will the solar energy engineer who feels there is a vital need to make our homes and synagogues energy efficient and reduce our global footprint pick? What if the engineer is also a foodie?
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