A very Jewish Toronto market trip: Phoebe Maltz Bovy on shutting the phone off to touch grass

Joseph Landau and Andrew Pacheco at the Sorauren Farmers Market, Sept. 4.

The internet is quite possibly not the most Jew-friendly place these days. Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of the company once called Twitter but now going by the more mysterious “X,” is contemplating suing the Anti-Defamation League, the well-known antisemitism-fighting organization. He claims that the ADL has tarnished the good name of… whatever the social media platform’s name is, accusing it of harbouring antisemitism, and that the site’s reputation as an antisemitic cesspool has cost it advertisers. Will he go ahead with the lawsuit? Maybe, maybe not.

But it is Musk’s belief, evidently, that “The ADL, because they are so aggressive in their demands to ban social media accounts for even minor infractions, are ironically the biggest generators of antisemitism on this platform!”

I don’t know, Elon, I sort of think the many accounts that tweeted at me yesterday with the (I would have thought passé) triple-parentheses, used as code that someone is a Jew, are more of an antisemitism generator than the ADL, whatever you think of the efficacy of its efforts. But well done, Twitter trolls, you found me out. You outed me, a senior editor at The Canadian Jewish News, as Jewish. Your sleuthing skills impress.

Things are looking quite a bit rosier for (((people like me))) in the offline sphere. Specifically, at the local west Toronto farmers market. Last week I spotted a man in a hat that said “challah” on it, and of course complimented him on this garment. Turns out it’s from Lev Bakery, as in heart in Hebrew. They sell challah, babka, and more at farmers markets around the GTA.

Then at yesterday’s market I noticed that a band—Joseph Landau and Andrew Pacheco—was playing something klezmerish and then heard lyrics, “mayim, mayim,” and then a musician explaining that this means water, which prompted my two-year-old to ask for her water bottle, and prompted her 40-year-old mom to realize that the Sorauren Farmers Market in the heart of Roncesvalles, Toronto, is actually Jewier than you’d think.

There is also the garlic seller, The Cutting Veg, who made a 2011 appearance in our pages. We grow his garlic in our yard and our basement is now a delightful garlic dungeon.

The gist of all of this is a trite but no less true suggestion that we—all of us, but maybe, this week, Jews especially—get offline and experience the world of actual irl people. You’re less likely to be accused of Jewishness by a complete stranger halfway across the world, and more likely to experience the joys of Jewish culture, ones that include but are not limited to listening to klezmer, buying babka, and, yard-permitting, growing unfathomable amounts of garlic.

The CJN’s senior editor Phoebe Maltz Bovy can be reached at [email protected], @phoebebovy.bsky.social, and @bovymaltz