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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!



Pesach Liberation

Blair Nosan

There are 3 reasons why Passover is my favorite holiday.

  • First, because as an act of storytelling, it upholds a tradition of oral history that honors complexity in a world of oversimplification.

  • Second, because it impels us to explore power and privilege in our own time

  • Third, because it is, at its core, about practicing the challenging and radical act of believing in goodness in the face of incredible obstacles.

In the last week, I have been reminded so many times that our lives are all touched by struggle. We don’t often use that language, and we are (with good reason) leary of considering our own travails as comprable to the great ills of human history, let alone the panoply of injustices that humanity confronts on a daily basis.

But the lesson of passover is to imagine, each of us, that we too were once slaves.  What is the meaning of this? Does it undermine the reality of others’ suffering? Or can it serve us as a way of radically connecting to the pain in each of ourselves? Can this call to action serve to transform our very personal struggles into a communal fight for liberation that acknowledges the complex ways that we are all connected? That we all experience exile?

And because we too often focus only on the particular and forget the universal, it seems all the more important to recall that Easter too is a recollection of a call to action. That rituals, however simplified, trivialized, commercialized, etc. contain a sacred core. These rituals acknowledge pain and suffering. They remind us that pain is shared. And they impel us to have faith in our ability to be renewed and reborn.

Can we sustain this dream within ourselves?

Can we sustain this dream for our communities?

For our cities?

Our country?

Our world?

Of the many convictions I hold, one of them is that living life well takes practice. And we do practice, each of us in our own way. We sing songs, we watch movies, we pray, we read books and newspapers and blogs, we dance, we drink, we share food, we grow food, we bless, we visit shrinks and doctors, naturopaths and concerned friends, we hide from ourselves, we look ourselves and others in the eye, we tweet/text/e-mail/phone, we reach out. We cry, we laugh, we love.

We live in a world that is in desperate need of spaces where we congregate to celebrate, to love, to struggle alongside our fellows. And as we think deeply on this Easter Sunday and Pesach week… it is in joy and in struggle that I share with you my hope for this spring: that we will acknoweldge that our struggles need to be nurtured, supported, loved and cared for. And that we discover, each of us, that some institutions are striving to be safe, welcoming, challenging, and exciting houses for these struggles to take root, and to flourish.

“When we say
the way we do each year
when we tell stories to our children and ourselves
when we say
next year in Jerusalem
Maybe we mean that next year
We won’t have to leave
Where we are
To be somewhere.”

-Esther Cohen