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(The Conversation) — It was the bag of Fritos that gave me away. As a secular Jewish kid whose family did not belong to a synagogue, I did not think twice about riding my bike to the convenience store around the corner during the afternoon of Yom Kippur.
I knew that it was a solemn holiday when observant Jews do not eat or drink. But my public school was closed for the holiday, and there was little to do.
Luck - Corner - Schoolmate - Sidewalk - Suburb
As luck would have it, as I came back around the corner, I nearly ran over a schoolmate who was walking on the sidewalk. I lived in a predominantly Jewish suburb of New York and was conscious that although I wasn’t fasting, he almost certainly was. The bag of corn chips that I was carrying betrayed me as a traitor to my faith.
Years later, as a scholar and author of “Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli,” I came to understand why the Jewish practice of abstaining from food on Yom Kippur is so out of step with the rest of Jewish tradition.
Guises - Judaism - Food
In both its religious and cultural guises, Judaism has always revolved around food.
In ancient times, Jewish priests known as “cohanim” sacrificed bulls, rams and lambs on the altar inside the courtyard of the Temple in Jerusalem, symbolically sharing a banquet with God.
Temple - Jerusalem - AD - Jews - Mediterranean
After the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70 and Jews were dispersed throughout the Mediterranean basin, food remained a Jewish preoccupation. Because the kosher laws restricted what Jews could put in their mouths, much of every day was spent figuring out what and how to eat.
In 20th-century America, the Jewish delicatessen, with its fatty, garlicky fare, became on par with the synagogue as a communal gathering place.
Emphasis - Judaism - Ancient - Times
The worldly emphasis of Judaism has, since ancient times,...
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