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By the delis of Babylonby michael • September 22 2008
If I forget thee, O Upper West Side, may my bagel forget its cream cheese
Jerusalem. Here, according to tradition, Abraham offered his only son Isaac up to God. Here David forced out the Jebusites and built his capital. Here the Temples were built and destroyed. Here the Israeli paratroopers fought to liberate the Western Wall. Here, for two thousand years, Jews from Vilnius to Kerala directed their prayers and dreams.
But is it the capital of the Jewish world? Well, according to a certain Haaretz columnist, apparently not.
Demographics back him up. Every single one of the world's roughly 13 million Jews is an American East Coaster of Ashkenazi descent whose feeble, guilt-stricken cipher of a body withers without regular infusions of nova lox. Those people at Mordoch or Shegar or Darna are just self-denying New Yorkers with tans; when their customers aren't looking, they're in the kitchen putting a schmear on their kubbeh, shedding quiet tears of shame.
But why, beyond the lox, does the Upper West Side trump the Jews' holy city as the center of the Jewish world? Well, cuz like the Bible is way heavy or something.
Psalm 137 actually only speaks metaphorically about one's right hand losing its use rather than being lost, but when your gut is full to bursting with the sweet pastrami of Babylon, perhaps you can be forgiven for missing the finer point. Besides, the Bible is way too sacred and precious, and getting up there in years, to be the central book of the Jewish people. It's time we cast it aside in favor of Portnoy's Complaint, or perhaps (if we are to be modern and do away with books altogether) Annie Hall.
After all, what's manna from heaven when you've got bagels?
Image courtesy of unforth from Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
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