When I returned to Detroit from Adamah, the Jewish Environmental Fellowship in 2008, I had only two things on my mind: food and Jews. Having grown up in the Detroit suburbs, I had never before grown my own food. Coming of age in a secular family that belonged to a large Reform congregation, I had never sung Jewish songs, and had never celebrated Shabbat. At Adamah, we sang at every opportunity, and felt the meaning of Shabbat through the grateful rest of our aching muscles. From the moment I returned to Detroit, this time to the urban center instead of the 3rd ring suburb of my youth, I wondered if there would be some way to lead a Jewish life as rich and grounded as life at Adamah had been. There were a few realities that allowed me to excuse this as an impossible dream.
I’ve been basking in the glory of a vibrant Jewish food community since moving to Detroit in 2009. From bountiful shabbat potlucks, heated debates about the role of urban agriculture, and teaching Jewish “Farm to Fork” curricula in suburban Jewish institutions, my friends and I have been busy. Despite of all the excitement, there has been one glaring absence: Bagels. I’m not just talking about authentic Jewish boiled bagels either — from Einstein’s to Detroit Bagel, all things round, doughy and savory have followed the mainstream Jewish population out of the city and into the suburbs. This was a situation that needed addressing!
When people ask what I do, I usually smile widely before answering, “I’m a pickler.”