Dear Whole Foods,
I get it- it’s a holiday, after all, it’s a Jewish holiday. So there must be food. What do Jews like? Food! How does that joke go, we almost died, God saved us so we eat? Yeah. Funny.
I grew up in a community that would be excited when Jews got mentioned and it wasn’t that we’re terrorists, evil bankers, or lizard people. I learned that mentioning Jews was progress, was a step towards understanding and peace. But then the “Everyone loves a Jewish girl” shirts came out and the token Jew-when convenient characters were the butt of every joke on television. Shows that were supposedly subversive and exposed important parts of being a woman, being a person of color. Being alive.
Here is a photo of the cake in question, in case you have not seen it. I did not take this photograph.
Now I’m just angry, Whole Foods, not because you don’t know better (which you should, you’re a multimillion-dollar corporation, you can use Google, or just talk to that one Jewish guy you know) not because you didn’t apologize (I’m waiting), but because your mantra is to bring diverse healthy foods to a community and teach that “value is inseparable from values.”
The articles online from secular sources are saying “But Whole Foods, this is about fasting.” That is not what Yom Kippur is about. But I guess that’s what you’ll remember about this important holiday. You fast. No food for 25 hours. The physical strife people put themselves through. Not being able to eat your insipid cake. And yet again a major corporation, a faceless entity is trying to take away the true value of a millennia old tradition.
This Yom Kippur, I did not dwell on food. I closed my eyes and heard the voices of people next to me praying to God, screaming, pleading up to heaven and begging for another chance. Another year. A good year. People who I have only seen smiling sobbing into their prayerbooks because they were so desperate for another year of trying live with good values. We were not thinking about your novelty sheet cake.
Values is not trying to make me feel special by having a grossly inaccurate sheet cake at the end of my fast. I would rather you not represent me than misrepresent me. I do not want the word “Jewish” inscribed on your non-kosher bagels, on your TV characters, on your Rosh Hashanah hams.
For all of you Jews who laugh at being misrepresented — there is a slippery slope between a Yom Kippur sheet cake and the Jewish conspiracy theories that make normal people into neo-Nazis. We are not a joke. Your ethnicity is not a joke. Your religion is not a joke. Because Yom Kippur isn’t about fasting. Stop laughing at the Jew jokes. Stop being excited by the peppering of Stars of David, the slightly off shout-outs. They’re wrong about you, about us. If you laugh, you’re telling them that they’re right about us. We are not all rich doctors with snobby children who get it all. We are not all bankers in large corporations, and we do not eat sheet cake that says “Yom Kippur!” on it we pray from our souls which scream YOM KIPPUR YOM KIPPUR YOM KIPPUR.
No ethnicity is a joke.
No religion is a joke.
Don’t put my identity on a sheet cake. Please.