Why some Jews won’t eat meat this week


Shira Feder, The Forward

This article originally appeared at forward.com. Reposted with permission.

This week may not be the best week to fire up the grill for your Jewish friends, as some Jews won’t be eating meat this week.

On the Jewish calendar, it’s the Hebrew month of Av — and when Av enters, we ‘decrease our joy,’ as per the Talmud (Mishnah, Taanis 26b). As any carnivore can tell you, a significant part of decreasing joy is reducing access to a good rib-eye steak.

So what’s with all the suffering? It’s the Nine Days, a mourning period commemorating the destruction of the Temple leading up to the fast day of the 9th of Av, a time when Jews traditionally dwell on all the historical tragedies that have befallen them (like the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, which happened on the 9th of Av in 1492, or the outbreak of World War I, which happened on the 9th of Av in 1914). It’s a time to honor our ancestors — and a time to shelve the kebab skewers.

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Some of Manhattan’s kosher restaurants, like Talia’s Steakhouse, ** Abigail’s, or Le Marais** alter their menus during the Nine Days. Some close entirely. New York restaurant Noi Due Carne is even offering a special menu of Salmon Carpaccio and Tuna Sliders, which we highly recommend.

Also, lest you think you might want to drown your sorrows in a glass of Chardonnay, you should know that wine is also off the table for the Nine Days.

But have no fear! There are plenty of other menu options that you can make at home. This Tunisian Fish Tagine is a perfect main dish, so savory you might not even miss the meat. This Asparagus Soup, with its clean, fresh flavor, will whet even the most reluctant appetite. Or check out Molly Yeh’s Rosemary Ricotta Blintzes or Leah Koenig’s Corn and Eggplant Pashtida. For dessert, some Russian Sour Cream Coffee Cake will do the trick.

And if you really miss meat — go for the kosher-certified Impossible Burger, which may be the closest to the real thing. (You can find the list of US kosher restaurants serving it, right here.)