Last year I moved across the country to complete a seven-month internship program. There wasn’t a lot of time to make friends, but I found that sharing food seemed to foster a sense of camaraderie. I was excited when one day a fellow intern invited me to her home for Friday night dinner. Since I’m gluten-free my initial instinct was to offer to bring a dish so she wouldn’t have to go out of her way but I also knew that my standards of kashrut were not as strict as hers. We compromised and agreed that I would bring fresh vegetables for a salad from the farm I was working on, and she insisted on trying her hand at making gluten-free challah.
HBO’s much-anticipated documentary series “The Weight of the Nation”, aired on May 14th and 15th, generating many conversations about the obesity epidemic in America. As a registered dietitian I am familiar with the statistics and research on obesity and chronic disease in this country. I expected that an HBO project would reframe the way we currently approach health in an exciting and innovative manner. In that sense it missed the mark and as I struggled to find a way to articulate how and why. I found a fuller explanation by coupling the film with the Jewish tradition. Pirkei Avot, the portion of the Mishnah known as Ethics of Our Fathers is commonly read on Shabbat afternoons, especially during the weeks between Pesach and Shavuot, precisely when “The Weight of the Nation” aired. One of my favorite passages has three simple clauses that unexpectedly bore meaning on my viewing experience.