‘A harmless diversion’

‘A harmless diversion’

A gentle rejoinder to letter-writer Sandra Steuer Cohen regarding the “wasted page” featuring the Noshes column in The Jewish Standard: Lighten up. I can be as serious as the next person, reading multiple newspapers (including the Standard) each week, tuning to news and commentary on the radio, seeking out intelligent analysis online in an effort to stay informed about the important issues affecting us both here and in Israel. But I confess: I turn to the Noshes page as soon as I bring in the mail each Friday. I take a break from my Shabbat preparations and pause for a “nosh” (or two). You might even call it a ritual.

To address Ms. Steuer Cohen’s question of why anyone should care which celebrity of the moment is Jewish: I don’t really know. Identifying with other Jews, even assimilated ones who lead rather un-Jewish lives, seems to be part of the mystery of Jewish peoplehood. Reading the fare in the Noshes column reminds me of the “frisson” of Jewish pride I felt, growing up more traditional than strictly observant in suburban Baltimore, when I learned that a famous actor or songwriter was an MOT (“member of the tribe”). Did looking for Jewish names as the credits rolled in my local movie theater lead to my becoming more serious about Judaism as I got older? Probably not (although reading in Noshes about a football player who fasts on Yom Kippur just might inspire a local kid).

All in all, it’s a harmless diversion. With the heavy diet of crises that we are fed each week as we digest the news from both within and beyond the Jewish world, isn’t a little “nosh” sometimes just what we need?