Friday, March 8, 2013

NY Times Looks at Orthodox Community through Pomegranate

NY Times    In Midwood, Brooklyn, there’s a luxury kosher grocery store called Pomegranate serving the modern Orthodox and Hasidic communities. It looks like a really nice Whole Foods. There’s a wide selection of kosher cheeses from Italy and France, wasabi herring, gluten-free ritual foods and nicely toned wood flooring. [...]

Nationwide, only 21 percent of non-Orthodox Jews between the ages of 18 and 29 are married. But an astounding 71 percent of Orthodox Jews are married at that age. And they are having four and five kids per couple. In the New York City area, for example, the Orthodox make up 32 percent of Jews over all. But the Orthodox make up 61 percent of Jewish children. Because the Orthodox are so fertile, in a few years, they will be the dominant group in New York Jewry.

Another really impressive thing about the store is not found in one section but is pervasive throughout. That’s the specialty products designed around this or that aspect of Jewish law. There are the dairy-free cheese puffs in case you want to have some cheese puffs with a meat dish. There are the precut disposable tablecloths so you don’t have to use scissors on the Sabbath. There are the specially designed sponges, which don’t retain water, so you don’t have to do the work of squeezing out water on Shabbat. 

Pomegranate looks like any island of upscale consumerism, but deep down it is based on a countercultural understanding of how life should work.[...]

For the people who shop at Pomegranate, the collective covenant with God is the primary reality and obedience to the laws is the primary obligation. They go shopping like the rest of us, but their shopping is minutely governed by an external moral order. 

The laws, in this view, make for a decent society. They give structure to everyday life. They infuse everyday acts with spiritual significance. They build community. They regulate desires. They moderate religious zeal, making religion an everyday practical reality. 

The laws are gradually internalized through a system of lifelong study, argument and practice. The external laws may seem, at first, like an imposition, but then they become welcome and finally seem like a person’s natural way of being.[...]

10 comments :

  1. Reading the thus-far 55 comments on the Times web site is eye-opening. Overwhelmingly very, very negative, a few coming close to the border of anti-Semitic. Certainly intolerant. I confess to being surprised. Anyway, I liked the article, I liked the headline.

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  2. "The external laws may seem, at first, like an imposition, but then they become welcome and finally seem like a person’s natural way of being.[...]"

    Is the writer a BT or something?

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  3. "Pomegranate looks like any island of upscale consumerism, but deep down it is based on a countercultural understanding of how life should work." Except for the bits about histapqus, pas bamelekh tokheil, etc...

    And what was that I heard about a tuition crisis?

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  4. Meir Soloveitchik can't open his mouth without citing a Christian theologian.

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  5. For once a nice article about Jews and Jews complain

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    1. Good comment.

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    2. Gentiles are certainly complaining too. But in much more hateful ways.
      I do notice the contrast though with a few gentiles in the comments who express admiration of our ways or positive experiences interacting with us. The stark contrast between these two responses is very striking, almost hard to believe.

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  6. My favorite comment from the Jew-hating crowd is that we are offending the Global Warming "deity" by having too many children. That's a new one. And of course written by a self-professed German. Guess he followed the Jews to America...

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  7. No schmatte for meMarch 11, 2013 at 2:01 AM

    The classic anti-Jewish mission of the NYT has taken a vacation. Do't worry, it will return soon in its usual, hateful flurry. I urge those who question my cynicism to examine that hateful rage over a period of many years. It has maintained its status as the most vehement anti-Jewish arm of mass media. However, in order to preserve the many huge advertisers who periodically threaten to abandon it, it publishes a pro-Jewish article from time to time. This way, it can say, "Look at this positive article. The only reason the positive articles stand out is the extreme contrast with all the rest.

    I'm pleased to see this op-ed. But I will not drink the kool-aid that NYT is changing its stripes. Watch their slanted coverage of the Middle East. Nothing really changed. I don't like to be a cynic, but I staunchly refuse to lie or believe untruth.

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