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Oz kosher drought should give us chops

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News that the last kosher butchery in Sydney, Australia, has closed, came as a shock. Not because I will miss its lamb ribs, but because I found it hard to believe that until now, there was only one such establishment in the city.

Now, there will be none, and kosher observant Jews will be forced to buy their meat in Melbourne. This means either that Australian Jews complain way too little, or that South African Jews complain way too much.

Without having any real knowledge about Australia, Sydney, or the community itself, I’m still reasonably confident that the lamb-rib crisis will be solved in no time at all. I have little doubt that a quick acting entrepreneurial soul, armed with a Bantam bakkie and a second-hand fridge, will become the king of kosher and the meat supplier for the barefoot of Bondi.

What is a worry is why South African Jews, myself included, fail to recognise quite how blessed we are. It’s a concern that we don’t applaud the amount that’s available to us and the choices that we have. We might have fewer kosher restaurants than we once had, fewer options when it comes to kosher catering, but the standard of kashrut, the quality of the establishments, and the number of kosher products available at supermarkets across the country, is something to celebrate, not bemoan.

Kosher establishments, like others in the entertainment industry, have suffered greatly over the past few years. Unquestionably it was one of the industries hardest impacted. Many weren’t able to reopen after the lockdown series, and those that could still pay the price inflicted on them by moderated behaviour of their patrons continue to be challenged by global inflation, supply chain issues, and looming shortages as a result of the Ukrainian war.

Not that that sensitivity should stop us complaining. The ability to do so is something we cherish, and we should protect. When someone asks us how we’re doing, and we answer, “Can’t complain”, it’s invariably tinged with disappointment that at that very moment, we have been deprived of the guilty pleasure of having something to complain about. There’s no doubt that complaining makes us feel alive, Jewish, and heard. Even if we aren’t. Heard. Because let’s face it, no one likes a complainer.

As a policy, we shouldn’t celebrate what we have because others have less than we do. Rather, the fact that there’s no kosher butchery (right now) in Sydney should serve to remind us how blessed we are. And that at any time, we have the ability to run out and buy ourselves lamb ribs. Even if we don’t have the electricity to cook them with.

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  1. Wendy Kaplan Lewis

    May 26, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    Love this humouress article

  2. Mireille

    May 26, 2022 at 9:23 pm

    Nobody can have it all. We have to be happy with what we have

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