Thursday, June 21, 2007

Respect or something else

I’m not writing this to be obnoxious or anything (for that you can go to my blog), but for other reasons this question occurred to me today.

Do your non-religious/non-Jewish friends/coworkers/associates refrain from not eating non-kosher in front of you? If you are hanging out with vegetarian friends in the cafeteria do you not eat that hamburger? Or pizza with the Vegans? If you are fasting on Tisha B’Av, Ta’anit Esther, or the 17th of Tammuz (coming up soon) does everyone else in front of you stop drinking water or eating?

For most people, the answer to all the above questions is “no”.

So why is it that I’ve been hearing a lot lately of people that won’t eat, or even drink in front of Muslims during the month of Ramadan?

It certainly isn’t about respect, because the answer to all the other questions above is usually in the negative.

So is it fear?

What’s it about?

I ask only because it seems to be a growing and inexplicable phenomena.


Olah Chadasha said...

Well, actually, the ones I know DO refrain from eating non-Kosher in front of me unless I say it's OK. As per your thoughts about the Muslim issue, they'll say it's out of respect, but it's really out of fear. C'mon, the Religion of Peace of Tolerance... Those that accuse Muslims of being intolerant or violent get a situation where Muslims become.... well... intolerant and violent. Yes, "behead those that call Islam violent!" I think that says it all, don't you?

Scraps said...

I think it's partly fear and partly bending over backwards out of political correctness. Jews aren't considered enough of a "real" minority (even though we are!) to treat us with consideration.

Anonymous said...

It depends, but largely no, people don't change their own eating behavior, although friends will sometimes express embarassment ("Oh, I guess I shouldn't eat this in front of you..." "Why? SOMEONE should have a BLT!"), and often knock themselves out to find something I can eat.

I've never seen the behavior you're describing, but my guess is that rather than fear of some kind of retaliation, it's fear of seeming culturally insensitive. Someone told them this is the good thing to do, so they do it...and I do think that it's seen as more 'important' than Jewish religious practices, especially if you, the Jew in question, don't seem very exotic. No special clothes or nothin'.

I don't know, though. Last year a friend of mine was trying to set up somewhere for the Muslim kids at our school to go at lunch so they weren't stuck sitting surrounded by people eating lunch every day, and the administration acted as though he was insane.

Political correctness--a term I don't like, since it's usually used as a sneer--can lead to some rather silly behavior, though.

The back of the hill said...

I tend to only eat among people I'm comfortable with. So the problem does not come up.

As for eating or drinking in front of a Muslim during Ramadan, Sheikh Munzer sleeps during the day, doesn't open his restaurant untill six in the evening in any case, and sells beer and wine to boot. If he keeps off food during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan, it probably doesn't stress him out.

I think a major reason not to eat in front of a person fasting is the low blood sugar level, and the idea that they would be looking on with hungry eyes and watering mouth.

I doubt that a Kosher-eater will look at a BLT disappearing down another's gullet in the same way that a stomach-growling dehydrated energy-waning fasting person will look at the food that is so close, and yet so far. Don't want to torture the poor shmoe.

As for the Vegans, nothing would give me greater pleasure during my meal than to realize that some pissant Vegan is looking on disapprovingly while I slowly savour a delicious reeky lamb chop, rich meat grease oozing down my fingers, the garlicky flesh-fragrance filling the air, with a lovely glass of Merlot.....

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