Louisiana Kashrut Blues by Eleanor Stern

Kosher Cajun Deli and Grocery has a new “Shrimp” po-boy— god know’s what’s in it, but I am steaming smug, picking up chicken and manischewitz, chopped liver in styrofoam. “You here for your mom’s order?” Well, yeah. Me, I’ll eat a real po-boy anytime I want. Oyster, even; the man shucks and I wait at the sticky table. Our rabbis come fresh from New York, marinated in the rules, the only ones at shul who’d turn down a crawfish boil. Their kids are Hebrew-named. The preschool took a son’s kippah, as punishment for his unruly ways. “We know he loves that hat,” said his teacher. We just lost it over that, paused forks in waxen hechshered  cake. As long as that boy has his hat, and a name New Orleanians butcher like cochon de lait. As long as the folks up in New York send word to our diaspora-in-a-bowl: “there are more of you.” I can eat my real shrimp po-boy and still be clean. I can worry about it when I am older. Or not: the Jews won’t last long, they say up in New York, and this city sinks a little each day.

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