Aesthetics/Ascetics:Visual Piety and Pleasure in a Strictly Kosher Cookbook
This article focuses on the relationship of aesthetics and ascetics with regard to the publication and popular reception of Kosher By Design, a cookbook published by a major American Jewish Orthodox press, ArtScroll Publications. The article analyses the ideological, rhetorical, discursive, and iconographic modes of address embedded within this text, treating them as instances of popular religion, and also as elements of a project in and through which the Orthodox Jewish intellectuals associated with ArtScroll seek to assert new forms of religious authority, in the context of a broader culture of “kosher consumerism,” to which this text is directed. The article ends by highlighting the paradoxical character of this form of “post-scripture,” in which books like Kosher By Design, and by extension other ArtScroll texts—including their popular prayer-books—are caught between competing demands of popularity and authority, art and asceticism, and religious stringency and bourgeois living.
Author: Jeremy Stolow