An article appeared in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune announcing the likely closing of the only kosher deli and supermarket in the Twin Cities. The article begins with the words, “Oy Vey!” but is this an “Oy Vey!” or a “Hurray!” moment? Perhaps some of both. Sure, it’s a loss on some level for the Jewish community and if it closes, I’m going to miss the best challah in the Twin Cities. But when you reflect on some of the conditions that have led to its impending demise, there’s also some positive news in the story.
As noted in the article, you don’t have to go to the kosher deli to purchase kosher food. You can now purchase kosher meat at the local Costco, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. You can also find a wide selection of kosher foods at many other local supermarkets, from the high end to the discount ones. Additionally, a new, local kosher supervision organization has recently begun providing certification for a few restaurants and coffee shops that offer kosher products. In other words, while the entire establishment is not kosher, certain foods are.
Kosher food has gone mainstream, along with many other aspects of Jewish culture. In fact, the purchase of kosher foods by non-Jews is on the rise (NYTimes Jan. 13, 2010). “Oy vey!” captures one dimension of meaning for the potential loss of the kosher deli to the Jewish community. But “hurray!” is also in order for what it signals to Jews in America.