Thursday, January 12, 2006

Second Ave. Deli

I've heard a lot in the general media about the closing of Second Avenue Deli. I once had a Gentile colleague who wanted to take me there and decided to call up and find out whether the restaurant was sufficiently supervised for my standards. Not being Jewish, he just innocently asked whatever questions he had. "Would my Orthodox friend eat there?" They told him, "Let me put it to you this way, we're open on Saturday." In other words, no. So I never ate there. According to its entry in the Shamash Kosher Restaurant Database, the deli was under a Conservative supervision and was "sold" on Saturday to a Gentile.

This kind of arrangement is bizarrely mourned in this week's issue of The Forward:

The deli was also part of a disappearing culture, once prevalent in New York, of kosher restaurants that remained open on the Sabbath. Only a handful remain, as kosher authorities increase their stringency and a more casual clientele drifts away.
Someone somewhere is probably going to show this as evidence of a "shift to the right" in Orthodoxy. Along with The Forward, they will fondly reminisce about how once upon a time you could violate Shabbos by buying kosher food that was cooked for you on Shabbos. Oh, those were the days, my friend.

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