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About ShtetlKettle

For the past 2 years, I’ve been blogging about fermentation on behalf of my small Detroit-based pickle business, Suddenly Sauer.

While food, in general, and fermentation, specifically, are central passions in my life, I felt that more theoretical fermentations (read: thoughts) weren’t as communicable in that space.  Thus, I’ve created ShtetlKettle.

In this space I want to think about community and individual identity.  My point of entry is Detroit Jewish identity, but I’m in no way limited to any one perspective.  I see some of the most poignant inquiries developing out of the borders between identities, and I hope to explore my identity, both personal and communal, with the boundaries (real and imaginary) that we create. 

While I plan to post on a weekly basis, I also want this space to be open to any/all those who happen to share in these (rather specific) areas of interest.  Guest posts and comments welcome!

I look forward to growing with you!



דעטרויט איז נישט קיין גלות (detroit is no exile)

Blair Nosan

I saw Aaron Lansky speak tonight.  He told stories from his book, Outwitting History, and painted lovely images of a vibrant future for Jewish culture.  He honored a past with charming and hilarious stories.  He sprinkled yiddish phrases throughout.  He dusted off the covers of aging books.  He brought a sense of yiddishkeit to life for approximately 1 hour.  And as he closed his speech with hopeful words and good tidings, I felt angry.

I felt angry that cultural preservation was being neatly packaged and sold to a passive audience. Because it feels incongruous with the reality I generally feel, which is that Jewish life in metro detroit is a giant question mark, and is struggling most because it is most generally enacted as a spectator sport. 

And to add insult to injury, I saw my dreams and desires reflected in the visions espoused.  I could have felt validated, felt hopeful because an audience was hearing a reputable voice describe the same disconnect I want to repair, prescribe the same rediscovery and re-ignition of culture and history. But, I grumbled… I’m on an island here! I’m lonely! Alone! My passion is meaningless if it is only mine.  

And then I made two new friends.  Two yiddish enthusiasts, local students… who had just started a yiddish club (in Detroit).  I felt my spirits move from sullen to ecstatic.  Real people with real shared interest!? Just about the only thing that could make me feel hopeful, standing before me.  I keep having to be taught the same lesson: low expectations aside, connection is the only thing worth living for.  The more open I remain, the more I seek it out, the better is living.

So, tonight, my yiddish community grew exponentially.  From 1 to 3 (and possibly 4).  And now, it feels like mir kenen hobn di yiddishkeit do, in Detroit.