Holey day observance- All hail National Bagel Day

January 15 was National Bagel Day (oddly, there is no Gefilte Fish Day or Herring Day).

A HOMEMADE bagel with fresh gravlax from ‘Modern Jewish Baker.’  (photo credit: SHANNON SARNA)
A HOMEMADE bagel with fresh gravlax from ‘Modern Jewish Baker.’
(photo credit: SHANNON SARNA)
 There is a Jewish holiday involving feasting that few people know about. How is this possible? 
January 15 was National Bagel Day (oddly, there is no Gefilte Fish Day or Herring Day).
I remember one day coming home from my high school, a coed New Jersey yeshiva called Frisch where, in an unfortunate series of events, I missed the winning basket in gym; a girl I liked sat on my friend’s lap in the library; and I got a 56 on my math test. But all was well that night when I sank my teeth into a plain bagel with tuna from “Bubba Bagels,” a place near my hometown of Monsey, New York. 
This magical circle of dough somehow gave me the feeling that everything would be OK. Soon, the girl would be my girlfriend; I’d swish the next key shot and the 56 grade would become a 96. 
When I went to Israel for a vacation in 1998, I ordered a bagel from a Tel Aviv hotel restaurant. It tasted like baked tissues.
Why is it that New York has better bagels than most parts of America and Israel?
“If you make aliyah, a small sacrifice is that the bagels won’t be as good as in New York,” warned Jacob Sacks, who made aliyah to Modi’in more than 15 years ago. “I used to go to H&H Bagels in Manhattan, where if you’re with your boys you get an ‘everything bagel’ because if you get a piece of garlic stuck in your teeth, it’s fine. But if you went there with a woman, you go with a plain bagel. 
“It was hot and fresh and like from another world.” 
In Israel, Sacks goes to the popular chains.
“It’s like a fake Gucci or Rolex. It looks good on the outside but once you take a bite, you know it’s not the same.” 
DURING THE pandemic, many have flocked to the comfort of homey, filling bagels.
Elan Kornblum, president of Kosher Restaurants Media Group in the US, says the water in New York City is what makes the difference between bagels there and bagels anywhere else. He suggests pastrami lox from Banner Fish on an everything bagel with a shmear of cream cheese and lox from the original Brooklyn Bagel.
Doodie Miller, 52, actually coined the phrase “bageling.” It means that a person lets another know they are Jewish by inserting a Jewish reference into the conversation.
“I was a college student in Canada and this would happen all the time,” Miller said. “For example, someone would come up to me and say ‘What time is Shabbos?’ even though it was Monday.”
In the 1980s show Different Strokes, Arnold (Gary Coleman) is thinking of converting to Judaism but is told by the rabbi that on Yom Kippur no food may be eaten. Arnold incredulously asks if one could eat a bagel, and is sadly rebuffed. He winds up not a member of the tribe.
While the bagel may have been first invented by Christian or Jewish Poles, bagels are eaten by everyone in the Empire State. Eric Wexler, whose father ran a bagel business for more than 40 years in Rockland County, said the clientele was mostly Jewish when the store first opened but then eventually, everybody was eating bagels.
As to why bagels from the New York metro area are better, many agree that it’s due to the minerals in the water. There are even some Florida bakeries that ship in water from Brooklyn. Another theory is that boiling the bagel prior to baking it is essential. 
Comedian, writer and actor Elon Gold, who lives in Los Angeles, cites Brooklyn Bagels in LA as a good place because they use Brooklyn water. 
“Whether you are a doctor of the body or of the soul we are in the business of healing,” he said. “So that’s a positive stereotype.” 
And so are bagels. They are universally loved – and if we get credit for bringing bagels into the world, that brings more positivity our way. Because we also gave the world kvetching and circumcision, and I’m not sure everyone is so grateful to us for those.... 
MICHELLE ILANA SOFFEN, 32, made aliyah when she left Manhattan more than a year ago. Getting her master’s in public policy at the Hebrew University, the Tel Aviv resident revealed that she loves whitefish on her bagels but will no longer make the effort.
“I have never had a good bagel in Israel,” she said. “They say it’s because of the water here… it’s hard.”
One person who did not wish to give his name said he was happy to live in Israel and accepted the trade of poor bagels for faster vaccine inoculation.
Rabbi Mark Wildes of Manhattan Jewish Experience, an outreach organization that is responsible for nearly 3,000 Jewish marriages, said he prefers an everything bagel and posits that bagels are not a bad stereotype.
“If it’s something that unites us and we can joke around and it helps us come together, why not?”
Nava Silton, associate psychologist at Manhattan Marymount College, said that during the pandemic people should allow themselves to indulge in the occasional bagel, but should not eat so many of them that it becomes unhealthy – such as indulging in one every day. 
“I think you shouldn’t be hard on yourself and allow food that brings you comfort and that might even bring you nostalgia as long as you don’t overdo it,” she said.
Wellness expert and yoga instructor Maya Kramer, who moved to Tel Aviv in 2008, said people should calm down about the bagel craze. 
“Israelis prefer pita,” she asserted. “Bagels are not Israeli.”
But bagels are portable, just as Jews have been throughout history.
Though Kramer’s favorite is an everything bagel, the model and journalist doesn’t expect there to ever be a bagel craze in Israel. Yet Rapper Kosha Dillz was even making a video about the connection between Jews and bagels.
Perhaps in the future, deals will be made in the Jewish state over beer and a bagel. But not now.
As for me, I became gluten intolerant in 2003 and can never have a bagel again. Oh well. 
Maybe right now, even while reading this article, you are having a bagel – even if it is a little cream cheesey. 
No matter what, Happy National Bagel Day!