Sunday, January 22, 2006

The end of delicatessens

From NYC to Paris, the great delicatessens of yesteryear are, one by one, going to that still-larger delicatessen in the sky.

As someone who's preferred Jewish cuisine is more along the lines of a falafel stand than a foot-high pastrami sandwich (sometimes politics and taste do coincide), the Closing of the American Delicatessen (in America and abroad) does not strike me as a tragedy. If Andrew Sullivan can find support for his politics in "South Park," then allow me to find the same in this: the end of "Diaspora Judaism," of cultural-but-nothing-else Jewry, is upon us. Outside Israel, the only people who care about being Jewish care because they are religious. Those who feel vague pangs of nostalgia whenever they pass a place that sells matzo ball soup will disappear as any sort of tangible group in the next generation, if not the next five minutes. Israel and religion, not neurosis and cured meat, will be what hold the Jewish people together. And this is a good thing.

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