Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

Buying the Jewish Chronicle

Posted on: June 27, 2019

This is too long to tweet but perhaps too short to blog.

Scene: Sainsbury’s, Winchmore Hill

Gillian, standing by the newspaper rack, reaches up for the Jewish Chronicle on the top shelf. She usually reads it online but wants a hard copy of an article of particular interest. Noticing a headline about kashrut, she realizes that this is last Friday’s edition.

‘Not very good for animal rights, is it?’

Gillian turns to see a small, fifty-something woman, smiling with her teeth but not her eyes.

Gillian (face has frozen into G-d knows what expression): Why do you say that?

Woman: You know they cut their throats and hang them upside down?

Pinteresque pause

Woman: Like with halal.

Gillian: Would you want to prevent halal slaughter?

Woman: (no longer smiling) No…you can’t stop people doing what they want, can you?’

Gillian: No

Resume first person. I swept past her, without taking the Jewish Chronicle, walking quickly. I did not linger by the grapefruit to see if they had pink or only red and yellow; I felt for some reason a need to put distance between myself and that woman. In fact, I felt a wish to complete the shopping and leave the store, to go home.

Even in  the car, my foot went down harder than usual, bearing in mind that I’m a senior citizen who has only once been done for speeding.

On the way to Sainsbury’s, I’d been thinking about my cousin who, at the age of seventy-five, has decided to make  aliyah, ‘to live my remaining years in Israel,’ were his words.

When I reached for the Jewish Chronicle, the thought was in my subconscious that a stranger would comment, yet when I heard the woman speaking to me, I half expected her to say ‘Price of a kosher fowl is something shocking these days.’

But no. It was ‘They cut their throats and hang them upside down.’

Look. I eat meat once, maybe twice a year so I’m de facto vegetarian most of the time. When I do eat meat, it does indeed have the hechsher of the London Board for Shechita.

Maybe the woman was being friendly. If I’d reached for today’s Financial Times, would she have said ‘Private equity is going great guns today’? If it were the Radio Times, would she have commented ‘So Judi Dench is 84? Looks marvelous doesn’t she?’

I don’t know. I just know that if it had been the FT or Radio Times, it would have been a whole different scenario. I didn’t buy the JC today because I remembered that this week’s edition would be out tomorrow. Maybe I’ll buy it in Sainsbury’s in Winchmore Hill.  It seems to be a bit of an ice-breaker. Lol.

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