Sunday, November 27, 2005

Avanti Balagan!

So Rinat is leaving Jerusalem for Tel Aviv. She can't, however, depart without a
potshot at the religious presence in the former. Encountering the above sign, she remarks:

Back from the bank this afternoon, I stopped to have a slice of pizza at Big Apple, near Kikar Tzion. Felt I was saying good-bye to all these places. Felt I'm moving to Tel Aviv when I saw this sign near the cashier...The first sentence is quite obvious as you have it in English. The second one, in Hebrew, says: "For pizza, you bless: Ashkenazi - hamotzi. Sfaradi - mezonot". It's a religious instruction for observant jews, who bless before eating, to remind them which blessing to say depending on his origin.I wondered if I'm gonna see this in Tel Aviv (sic). I'm definitely feeling I'm about to go. And I'm quite happy about it.

Now, I understand her supermarket difficulties. What I don't understand is what ticked her off about this sign. No one asked her to make a berakha. Why can't a kosher establishment be self-consciously Jewish? In Manhattan, Prime Grill is one of the leading restaurants in the city. It is obviously kosher but that does not repel non-observant Jews (or non-Jews), or stop them from patronizing it.

The whole business leaves me very, very sad.


ontheface said...

Jeffrey, I know Rinat and I'm pretty sure she won't mind my speaking up for her here: she is not in the least anti-religious; she simply objects when she feels that some religious people try to impose their values and lifestyle on her - as she wrote in her post about the supermarket experience.

There's no reason to object to the sign's existence - in principle. It is just a symbol of how overwhelmingly Orthodox Jerusalem has become, and that is why she posted it. It reminds Rinat that the reason she no longer feels comfortable living in Jerusalem is that she does not feel tolerated there as a secular Jew.

And I think the fact that the atmosphere of intolerance is driving Rinat out of Jerusalem is what is really sad here.

Last shabbat a non-Jewish journalist friend of mine had eggs tossed at her windshield while she was driving on a road that borders an Orthodox neighbourhood.

In Tel Aviv, I live opposite a Belz yeshiva and live in mutual harmony with my haredi neighbours. They never comment on my secular lifestyle, and I don't play loud music on shabbat out of respect for them. I think that is the kind of tolerance Rinat misses in Jerusalem, and seeks in Tel Aviv.

Gil Student said...

I took some non-Jewish executives to Prime Grill a few weeks ago. They loved it and said they were putting it on their list of good restaurants.

Interestingly, a few weeks ago someone walked into a pizza place in Manhattan while I was there and asked what berakhah the pizza was. Obviously, not a simple question to answer. But signs like the one under discussion are helpful to many people.

Jeffrey said...

I want to respond to Lisa's thoughtful response. I was not imputing an anti-religious bias to Rinat. I am deeply saddened that the situation in Jerusalem has reached the point where everything gets lumped together. I think there is all the difference in the world between throwing shmattes on women in supermarkets (or forbidding sitting in Pizza stores after 7PM, or separating standing in commercial centers, and a fortiori throwing eggs at someone- don't these kids learn Hilkhot Qiddush and Hillul HShem?) and the sign in the Pizza Store. But that's exactly the problem. Things are so polarized that everything gets lumped together and the flight from Jerusalem intensifies.

Anonymous said...

That is insane. There are different specific formulas for what constitutes a HaMotzi bracha versus a Mezonot Bracha in the two different traditions.

The same way a bakery might have a sign up that the ginger cookies are round and the the sugar cookis the square ones. Hate Judaism all you want, but don't do it out of such pathetic ignorance!