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Millennial Jews Do An About-Face, Start Keeping Kosher

University of Illinois student Stanley Dayan (from left) and Chabad Jewish Center employees Mordy Kurtz and Yosef Peysin work at the center's kosher food stand in 2013 at the university's State Farm Center basketball arena in Champaign, Ill.
University of Illinois student Stanley Dayan (from left) and Chabad Jewish Center employees Mordy Kurtz and Yosef Peysin work at the center's kosher food stand in 2013 at the university's State Farm Center basketball arena in Champaign, Ill.

Many millennials — people born after 1980 — have embraced vintage items: vinyl records, thick-framed glasses ... and now, dietary laws.

"I'm 21 years old, and, yes, I do keep kosher," says Lisa Faulds.

She says she ate whatever she wanted growing up: "bacon, ham, all that fun stuff. Seafood, shellfish."

But that all stopped a few months ago.

According to a 2013 Pew Research Center study, nearly a fourth of millennial Jews are keeping kosher.

That's almost twice the rate of their baby-boomer parents — so this is not necessarily because of their parents' influence.

Millennial Margo Smith says it's about values, "taking the root idea of keeping kosher as an idea of being respectful and knowledgeable about the way in which your food is prepared and where it comes from and kind of combining it with the farm-to-table philosophy."

The Atlantic has reported that millennial kosher-keeping Jews are having a big influence on kosher cuisine.

There's now kosher grass-fed beef and kosher free-range chicken — organic, of course.

In uber-hip Brooklyn, a restaurant serves kosher banh mi — that's a Vietnamese sandwich.

And then there's The Gefilteria, a New York company offering small-batch, high-end versions of Bubbie's classic gefilte fish.

Call it kosher cool.

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