Food can play an important role in our memories and traditions. Matza ball soup can conjure up Pesach, herring, the older men who never missed Shacharit, and bagels and lox may bring to mind Sunday brunches, a bris, or whatever else went on at shul. These events and the people we associate them with can be important and binding. Oftentimes, we think of people we love and the foods that they prepared and ate at significant moments and try to pass on those feelings and loyalties to our children (with the notable exception of p’tcha, if you don’t mind me saying so). This can be a beautiful and important process.
Less sublime, however, is the phenomenon of bagels and lox Judaism, when these foods become a stand-in for being Jewish as a whole. In another 3,000 years, we’ll remember what our ancestors ate coming out of Egypt and that will still mean something. Lox? Not so likely. Many of our recent cultural fixtures, while valuable, occupy a place of secondary, not primary importance in our story as a people. Lox and many things like it won’t last forever, won’t sustain Jewish continuity, and won’t uphold the values that we seek to embody. Going to shul and sending our children to Jewish day school will.