After the Algemeiner ran a piece criticizing the New York Times for its coverage of a cookbook containing Senator Chuck Schumer’s treyf meatloaf recipe, I wrote a commentary asking whether the paper in fact erred in its judgement. My opinion was that it didn’t, but I wanted to know what our readers thought. We got a lot of thoughtful and interesting responses, a number of which are reprinted (with permission) below.
Don’t Promote Pork
As someone who represents heavily Jewish New York, who cries (legitimately) recalling relatives who were killed in the Holocaust etc., he should not promote a recipe that contains pork. If he wants to eat it privately, I would not judge him but it is rather unseemly to present an observant, culturally aligned face to the world at large and then declare his love for the most glaringly non-Jewish symbol. It is not necessary. He could substitute turkey or veal and not alienate a large portion of his voting base and at the same time not invite the scorn and collective virtual smirk of the non-Jewish electorate.
— Lynn Flaster
Should Be Ignored
I agree that this is not news. In fact, I wonder why the Forward has chosen to publish anything about it. Let’s just leave the Algemeiner, which has a very circumscribed readership, write its articles to play on the divisions in the Jewish community so it can push its extremist agenda. As we have seen over and over again, this kind of tactic has not had any effect on Senator Schumer’s support. why should the Forward waste its time reacting to something that it should ignore?
— Gordon Silverman
Seems Like Silliness
I agree with the silliness of whining about Chuck Schumer and the New York Times for not making a big deal out his using treyf in his meatloaf. Besides, if you don’t want to eat it, don’t — but let me tell you — meatloaf is much better when it has ground pork in it.
— Dan Perlman
I’m With Algemeiner
I understand the reality. Unlike me, who grew up in a Bronx ghetto, I knew my kids would be raised in a largely suburban (i.e. gentile) world. So I tried to keep a Kosher home in modern America so they knew their roots. Two sets of dishes, only kosher meats, no mixing dairy and meat. But we had only one dish washer, ate the pizza we brought in on my paper plates and my wife (who was not raised kosher) went along at home and limited her treyf to restaurants.
My point is that somehow many Jews today don’t even give the appearance of acknowledging the faith of their birth. I remember going for a walk with my wife on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur and passing a Jewish friend’s house to find him mowing his lawn. There was a brouhaha the year my son graduated from high school because a student made an anti-semitic comment about another in the year book. His parents’ defense was that he was Jewish so it wasn’t that bad. No, it was worse.
Is it any wonder people make fun of us if we Jews mock and disregard our traditions? There are very few tv shows that have Jewish characters actually acknowledging their Judaism. Did you ever see Seinfeld go out with a jewish girl. Paul Reiser married a shicksa on Mad About You. Even the Goldbergs favorite meals involve pork products.
Did Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand have to record Christmas albums?
So, for these reasons I’m with the Algemeiner on this one. Sort of.
Public vs. Private
To tell you the truth, I was disappointed in Schumer, himself, not the coverage. Yes, what he does privately is his business, but why not in a publication be less in-your-face about not caring about kashrut. It takes times, effort and extra money to follow kashrut, respecting the tradition enough not to display and perhaps advocate disregard for kashrut observant cooks. “Jewish Cooking In America,” an excellent collection by Joan Nathan, has an excellent kosher meat loaf recipe that still works today; although many cooks today substitute ground turkey for the veal. I’m reminded of a Jewish author of a book promoting and encouraging more Jewish observance who scheduled a book signing after Shabbat began at a local bookstore. When confronted by telephone during a radio broadcast he said what he did privately was only his concern. Of course, it was, the caller responded, but this was his very public event.
— Ruchama Burrell
Eat What You’re Served
Don’t let them wear you down. My father was raised secular, eating pork, shellfish, etc. My mother was mostly Scottish heathen. When they converted to Christianity, he started reading the Torah and New Testament, inferring as a genetic Jew, in his home, we should keep the dietary laws in the Torah, but not necessarily Talmudic rules in an Eastern Kentucky small town. We were instructed that when we ate at someone else’s table, to eat what was put in front of us and enjoy it. As a budding cook, i learned to cook pork for roommates from their mothers’ recipes, didn’t eat what i cooked, but they always liked it. I still eat the way i grew up, and would eat Sen. Schumer’s meatloaf if he cooked it for me.
— Marc Reid
We will continue to add readers’ responses as they come in. Add yours here.
Liza Schoenfein is food editor of the Forward. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @LifeDeathDinner