A new restaurant is about to open in Brooklyn. It’s called Traif (the Hebrew word meaning not kosher). As the BLD (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) Project points out, that while it may be in Brooklyn it is not a restaurant that the local Hasidic community will be dinning in. Jason Marcus, the chef and co-owner of Traif, is Jewish and according to his blog, he wanted to open a restaurant that celebrates the foods he loves most, shellfish and pork.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about the restaurant when I heard about it. My friend sent me this article, announcing the opening of Traif. She was outraged. The idea of the restaurant didn’t sit well with me; but I didn’t think it is anti-Semitic. I wanted to tell the JCarrot community about Traif, but I am not really sure what to say. I am hoping that this post will spark conversation like it has on other blogs. I am curious about how this makes others feel. Especially people that care about food and Judaism.
I read through the comments on the article my friend sent me. Then I read through the Traif’s blog. The debate taking place around the opening of this restaurant is very interesting. The comments ranged from outrage about the it to it’s funny and we should laugh at it. I think the debate from Jews and non-Jews, as well as observant and secular Jews is interesting an important.
These comments question whether or not kashrut has a place in our modern lives. Personally, I believe it does. But I understand that there is more to being Jewish than keeping kosher. I keep kosher, I have two sets of dishes, I don’t eat meat out and I never eat shellfish and pork. On the other hand my family does not keep kosher and they still have meaningful Jewish experiences in their lives all the time. So, kashrut is not the end all and be all of Judaism. It’s a component. An important component.
It’s an important aspect for many reasons, first it’s talked about in the Torah. Incidentally, this weeks Torah portion includes the laws of kashrut. Secondly, food is a vital and integral part of our daily lives. Having rules about what we can and cannot eat has a huge impact on our lives. And finally, the fact that Jason choose Traif for the name of his restaurant implies that people would understand the underlying meaning of the word. The idea of kosher and traif products isn’t a thing of the past, it is very much alive today.