Back to the Shtetl? On crossing boundaries and boundary work in culinary encounters between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Paper short abstract:
In this lecture I will describe a new culinary scene, in one of Israel's largest ultra-Orthodox cities, that enables, and even generates, encounters between ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews. In addition, I examine how "boundary-work" still exists in the course of these chance meetings.
Paper long abstract:
The religious schism and division in Israeli society between secular and religious Jews, and especially between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews, is described in research as one of the main focal points of tension in Israeli society. In this lecture I will describe a new culinary scene that enables, and even generates, encounters between ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews in Israel. This takes place on Thursday nights on the main streets of Bnei Brak, one of Israel's largest ultra-Orthodox cities, when traditional Eastern European Shabbat dishes are sold to the general public. The traditional foodstuffs, which were preserved in the Israeli ultra-Orthodox kitchen over the years, attract many visitors who are not part of the ultra-Orthodox society but regard the traditional dishes with great nostalgia and even longing. In my lecture, based on fieldwork documenting the Thursday-night 'happenings,' I will discuss the encounters between individuals who usually do not meet in daily life and are even hostile to one another. Nevertheless, I show how symbolic boundaries are crossed (Harris 1985; Douglas 1975) and inclusion circles are created around the culinary encounter. In addition, I examine how obvious boundary-work still exists (Gieryn, 1983; Lamont, 2002) in the course of these chance meetings.
Ethnographies of food inclusion and exclusion [Anthropology of Food Network]