Super Bowl Sunday In Lakewood: It’s Anything But Kosher

Dear TLS,

Here I am again, finding myself in the all-too-familiar role: that guy.

The one who feels compelled to pen a disgruntled letter to TLS, bemoaning the fervor with which our community has embraced the Super Bowl and everything it represents—a fervor, I must point out, that seems starkly at odds with our Jewish traditions and values.

And why do I raise this concern? Because where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.

This becomes all too apparent when observing the barrage of advertisements and social media promotions from our many local Lakewood kosher restaurant establishments, all too eager to entice us with Super Bowl Sunday specials.

Yes, it’s entirely possible to host an exuberant Super Bowl bash replete with gourmet offerings.

Each steaming dish boasts adherence to the most stringent standards of glatt kosher certification, supervised by the most reputable hashgacha, featuring chassidishe shechita only, and monitored round-the-clock by a mashgiach temidi saying tehilim.

Rest assured, your sport-themed feast will be double-wrapped, hand-delivered by a shomer Shabbos delivery person, clad in the traditional white shirt, black pants, tzitzis conspicuously displayed, all while absorbing a daf yomi shiur through his TAG-filtered iPhone.

Because, after all, as a devout Jew, adherence to the Torah’s commandments is paramount.

Say it proudly: “Wow, mi ka’amcha Yisrael!”

Never have we felt a deeper sense of pride for being associated with such a profound and spiritually elevated community. Indeed, the pride of chareidi Jewry across North America.

But let’s cut through the façade.

This letter distills my anguish and indignation. Should the irony escape you, then further discussion is moot.

However, should you grasp the irony, then join me in mourning. Together, we can lament over how a community so full of promise has, seemingly, lost its way.

M.A.G.

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50 COMMENTS

  1. Those of us who merit swimming in the ים התלמוד pay little or no attention to the Super Bowl or the businesses trying to capitalize on it. I strongly suggest that you join the swimming which will give you unfathomable merit in this world and the world to come.

    • How about those that either work extremely hard to make ends meat or those that never had the head to swim in the Yam Hatalmid what are they supposed to do?

      • Not waste their time on stupidity. I’m on e of those. I’ve never been to a super bowl party in my 50 years. I’m missing out on what?
        Sporting events are just another taiva offered to us by the outside world. No different than dressing according to the latest French designer ideals. Live like a Yid to the best of your ability, and Daven to Hashem for strength to overcome this hurdle like the last hurdle.

    • I assume your children are in school only with other swimmers’ children. Otherwise, you would understand that almost every classroom is infected by the kid who watches or knows his father is watching (and he will too when he comes of age for hirhurim) the Super Bowl.

      It’s something we came to Lakewood decades ago to get away from. Lakewood was supposed to be a place we could bring up our children in a pure Derech Hatorah. That has changed so much, and my nephews and nieces in other towns are in many ways better off than my children.

    • Very valid point. For those saying that he should stop focusing on everyone else’s business and let everyone do what they want, agreed. But I think you’re misreading things. Nowhere in this letter does he say you cannot watch the super bowl. If you need to watch the game, then do so in the privacy of your living room. But people should not make it as if they’re being holy and be all frum while doing it.

  2. He’s absolutely right- and he’s not the only one with this sentiment. See Rabbi Besser’s Voice in the Crowd in this week’s Mishapacha magazine.

    • Good to see that rabbi Besser and the mishpacha are the end all be all of of social commentary and hashkafa. Who elected either of them to give their opinion?

  3. Your words may be true but how about look through the restaurant owner’s point of view. People will be having super bowl parties regardless. They’ll be ordering the food regardless. You want food, I want money! My goal is to get you to order the food from my restaurant. It’s quite simple!

  4. To the letter writer. I am not saying that you are wrong. What I will say is, unfortunately, in our community and many other communities, there are boys and girls that need a lot of help. Watching the Super Bowl is one way to give them help.

    I personally have saved someone from going down the wrong path by him watching the Super Bowl.

    If the Lakewood Scoop wants to reach out to me for the story, they can contact me via my email address.

  5. Here’s another controversy: how useless these high school plays are. A waste of money, resources and time that could be spent on better things.

  6. Thank you Mr. MAG once again for speaking up and speakingredients loud.
    It’s hearwrenching that this discussion is even taking place, in akewood.
    There’s nothing kosher or correct about sitting down to earthly entertainment for hours straight and celebrating a regular Sunday afternoon.
    We have a responsibility for ourselves and for those that live around us.
    Yes, a super-plate party going on in a frum home has an effect on all of us.
    It’s understandable that some people feel the need to watch the shmutz in the world of entertainment but it’s the kicker party that just takes it to an intolerable level.

  7. All these various letters to the editor hit the nail on the same head, but really accomplishes nothing. The super bowl, tznuis, materialism, etc are all SYMPTOMS. The cause is much deeper and boils down to people not realizing or not internalizing how special they are and how much Hashem loves them (imagine if we understood the immeasurable love Hashem has for us NO MATTER WHAT). With this love comes the awesome responsibility to do what HE wants us to do. Every day, every moment. WE ARE SLAVES, who are not being asked to think for ourselves. We are given a Torah with in which is spelled out what our MASTER asks and expects of us. We are not slaves here and there, or when we feel like it. We are SLAVES every moment every day. Our job is to work our heads off to understand what does OUR MASTER WANT FROM me, in every situation every second. We are blessed that our MASTER , HASHEM All Knowing, Loving, and Compassionate, he never askes us to do more than we are capable, and never asks us to do anything that isnt for our beneift. HE WANTS ONLY WHAT IS BEST FOR US, ALWAYS, EVERY MOMENT.

    All these symptoms are a lack of clarity in this. The more we spread this truth, the less a person feels the need to fill a void with materiliasm and distractions, and absolute self indulgency. The more we realize and think this, the smaller the void actually becomes. A person is then able to stop and think, wow what does Hashem want from me? He wants me to love him back! He tells us CLEARLY what he wants. He wants us to not talk in shul and actually focus on the words we say. He wants us to focus as much as we can and actually delve into our learning. He wants us to SACRIFICE our own thinking and calculations and realize HE knows ALL and BEST and we only care about what HE WANTS. Suddenly, wearing the wrong clothes, jetting off to miami with money we dont have, watching to super bowl while fressing our faces, constantly obsessing about how to get the bigger house and nicer care and newest clothing become much less attractive.

    We all know the truth. We all know what’s right. We all want to do what’s right.

    To those knuckle heads who say live and let live, you clearly aren’t living. It doesn’t bother you because you wouldn’t be able to identify anything worthy or holy even if it smacked you directly in the face consistently forever. It doesn’t bother you because you place no importance on Yiddishkeit or helping others gain and luxuriate in the depth of Hashems beautiful program he created for us. You just want to be left alone to do what YOU want (not what Hashem wants) so therefore you want everyone else to play along in your sad meaningless world. Alas, you don’t have to. You can join in being the solution. But as the write said, having the 8 minute daf on your tag smartphone isn’t going to cut it. We arent in our own world where we decide when/if we will have time for what Hashem wants and shtoop it in when WE feel like it. WE LIVE IN HASHEMS WORLD. GET THAT THROUGH YOUR HEAD. Thank you.

    Either your in or your out.

    Good Day!

  8. When Chumrah becomes Torah you also lost your path and the lost youth with you yes I’m one of those youth from 20 years ago. Took me year of hard work to feel connected again

    • Very, very true. Today’s version of Torah is all chumrah, great. If you don’t like it, you’re a hater of Torah or a kofer. See on torah anytime the shloshim for Rav Matisyahu ZATZAL. Rabbi Lief talks about a rav going to see Rav Matisyahu and finding him playing ping pong and making popcorn for Lakewood at risk and OTD teens. That’s the Torah way. Sometimes you need to see what the Tzibur needs and where they are holding to help them grow as Frum Yidden. Lakewood for decades hasn’t been only a small community built around BMG and private way. It’s time LAkewood people realized this and learnt the Halachos of Chanoch L’naar Al Pi Darkoi.

  9. I think the same way hashgacha and kashrus agencies are on top of the stores to make sure they only serve kosher food, they should also make sure they give out kosher messaging in their ad. If you want a reliable hechsher like KCL then you need to follow their guidelines. I think they should come out against this craziness and the other KASHRUS agencies will follow.

    • Hashgachas getting involved in non kosher issues is a slippery slope that never ends well.
      I worked as a Mashgiach at weddings (& other events) for a major Hashgacha. Our job was to make sure the food was Kosher. It was NOT our job to:
      Police the (very) non-tsnius women which would make Lakewood issues seem like a joke.
      Police the Non-jewish music.
      Stop the Non-jewish female singer from singing “Moshiach”
      Police the mixed dancing.
      Require men to wear yarmulkes.
      Make sure guests washed before eating bread.
      Make sure the officiating Rabbi was Orthodox.
      Make sure there was bentching & sheva brachos.
      Hashgachas can & should stay in their lane & not get caught up in the impossible task of deciding where to draw the line between allowed & not allowed activities.

  10. The issue is not about watching the Super Bowl as a one time hype. That is the same as watching fire works. The issue is when people adopt the whole lifestyle. That is not really the case in Lakewood but we still need positive reinforcement.

  11. My issue isn’t with people watching the Super Bowl. Honestly today there are worse ways to spend an evening and I can see it being a way for the males in a family to have some ‘bro time’, especially if some of the family members aren’t learning inclined. However, as a frum family, the head of house must put down some house rules:
    1) we don’t watch the halftime show, I don’t care that it’s not Kol isha this year.
    2) we only start watching when the game begins. No pregame, anthem, nothing.
    3) no banners, signs, themes, jerseys. This is an outlet for us to enjoy each other’s company we aren’t getting invested in nareshkeit.
    Definitely don’t make a massive matzav out of it and and keep it small and low key.
    My big issue is with the restaurants posting ‘Super Bowl Specials’ and AV guys advertising TV rentals 🤯. Do it small and low key in your home for your family if you enjoy football. I’m not saying by any stretch that this is better than spending the evening in the BM, but to get the family together there can be worse things guys can do together, especially because every family has those members who who wouldn’t drive down to Lakewood for a family Chaburah in bmg

  12. Superbowl themed advertisements in Lakewood is a huge problem that I’ve tried to tackle for many years.
    Whenever I speak out against the use of football jargon in restaurant advertisements, my detractors accuse me of illegal interference and of illegally blocking the revenue streams of local eateries.
    And when I DO manage to have some degree of success on this issue, my friends move up the goalposts on me, and insist that I need to move the chains even further on this matter.
    Truth be told, it’s extremely difficult for me to speak out publicly about this issue because I’m always fumbling for the right words to say in a public arena.
    In all honesty, I’m thinking of taking a brief timeout from battling this issue so I can diagram a new game plan and a different strategy to advance this issue not only forward, but further downfield.
    A good friend of mine asked me the other day how far I plan on going with this protest.
    “I’m going the whole nine yards!” I told him, “because I’m tired of all the football jargon being used in these superbowl-themed restaurant advertisements!”
    Truth be told, it can’t be thrust solely upon a few of us to be the referees blowing the whistles and throwing the flags on this issue! Everyone needs to chip in and to warn these restaraunt owners, that their disgusting sportsmanlike conduct will not be tolerated any longer, and that, unless their advertising campaigns become more unsportsmanlike, it’s game over for them, because they will be fined heavily for their sportsmanlike conduct. Moreover, one day, the restaurant owners might find themselves being suspended indefinitely from the National Restaurant League.

  13. M.A.G.

    1. You are not a “grandfather from Brooklyn” (as you attempted to lead readers to believe in your past letters). Thank you for exposing that quite obviously in this letter. Cut through your own façade.

    2. The ceaseless stream of biting sarcasm in your letters is tiresome, unsophisticated, and frankly juvenile. Figure out some way to convey your point in a positive and productive fashion.

    3. If you are capable of it, it might be worthwhile for you to look for a few moments beyond the (arguably objectionable) advertisements of a few local restaurants and the brands of winter jackets that catch your eye before you ask others to join you in “mourning… a community so full of promise”. Name another town where Torah and Chesed exists on the astonishing scale it does here and then we’ll speak.

    • Why do you have to be so fancy & eat herring?
      In my house we eat leftover Challah with a little salt & drink warm flat generic cola leftover from Shalos Shudis.
      What Frum Yid goes all out by serving herring?
      In my house you’d never find such ostentatious food. You’re making a very clear statement about how important the Super Bowl is to you & how embedded you’ve become in American culture without even realizing it. We also sit on hard wooden benches while watching the game. Ch’V we should associate being comfortable with watching the Super Bowl.
      I also purchased software which blurs all women on the tv (even in the stands) & their voices.
      B’H I was able to convince them to only serve Kosher certified Gatorade on the sidelines. I don’t want my kids to get any ideas about treif drinks helping athletes play better especially my daughter who competes in American Ninja Warrior Junior competitions.

  14. MAG Who are you? I want to but you a one way ticket outta Lakewood! Why do you live here? You hate this place! LEAVE & leave us alone! Enough is enough!

  15. Mr letter writer.

    Pick your battles wisely.

    We got bigger problems, rebellious kids , kids can’t get schools , financially struggling families, boy or girl struggling with shidduch for one reason or another. Need more ?

    During the superbowl sit yurself down with a sefer, and that how you help if you really mean for GD.

    Long Time Shadchan

  16. Anyone taking issue with M.A.G’s letters are nothing but a byproduct of the society that he is criticizing.

    Stop being too proud to admit that we aren’t the “Elite Lakewooders” that we call ourselves.
    Any and every out of town community far surpasses Lakewood on every simplistic level.

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