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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!




Blair Nosan

Something in the last few weeks has moved me. Maybe it was a friend’s reminder that joy is not happiness, but rather, the feeling of being present in ourselves. I feel present at present. Maybe it was seeing live yiddish music in Detroit. Maybe it was the patchwork of conversations I had during the high holidays, with individuals who discussed Detroit with humility and complexity. Or the man I befriended in a garden on the far east side, suddenly at the synagogue on friday night, popping in to use the bathroom, and encountering me, both of us beside ourselves with the joy at the world shrinking. With connection.

This season feels like it is all about connection. From my ass rooted to the floor through a yoga mat, my hands intertwined with others as we sang a song of humility and growth in Eden Gardens, and my growing sense that, once more, unity feels possible.

I didn’t realize it was unity that I was seeking. I have so long resisted belonging, albeit in childish and uninformed ways. But as I am becoming someone who knows what I want in the world, who believes in my capacity to help create a future I believe in, I am beginning to see unity in unexpected places.

So many questions have arisen in the past few years, about vision, leadership, allieship, and change. And I have beat my head against the same wall many times, trying hard to understand how to exist in the world without harm. My liberal sensitivities, so eagerly consumed in my college years, have given me the gift of a complex lens (or lenses) through which to view the world. And, the responsibility of wielding that lens with justice. I have wanted to create for years, but I haven’t been jaded enough to do so. I’ve been consumed by the complex problems that I inhabit as a citizen of the world, of america, of michigan, of detroit. And yet, still I have ached to help plant the seeds of solution.

I think I’m patient. I think I’m kind. I think I’m well intentioned, and I think I’m well informed. But I’m also human– which means I know I’m inherently flawed, self-serving, and limited in my understanding. If I could take these faults as a strength, though… if I could remember them, honor them, speak to them, feel gratitude for them, maybe I could feel fuller.

To yearn for purpose and to know that it will only have meaning if it is shared. To want to create collectively and to fear my bullish ways. To dream and to know that dreaming is a privilege. To believe that I can create change, and to know that I can only change myself.

These and all other thoughts, I cast into the universe. I believe that in good time, they’ll return to me in unexpected unifying ways.