Ophiuchus

There was a panic in the astrology world recently when astronomer Parke Kunkle of the Minneapolis Community and Technical College declared that the zodiac signs have shifted due to a realignment of the Earth, moon and stars.

My first reaction to this news was like most people: “There’s a community and technical college in Minneapolis?”

Mr. Kunkle went on to suggest that horoscopes should be updated to reflect the change with the addition of a thirteen sign, Ophiuchus. According to Wikipedia, the serpent-bearer Ophiuchus “is commonly represented as a man grasping the snake that is represented by the constellation Serpens.” With imagery like that, is it any wonder the ancient Babylonians threw out Ophiuchus as a zodiac sign and went with only twelve?

But not even Mr. Kunkle could have known his remarks, casual by nature, would be taken so seriously by so many. But that was before his assertion went viral on the internet. Since then, some people have gotten very upset that their signs might have changed since they identify so closely with them. And who can blame them? We’re in a recession, there’s high unemployment, a lot of people are stressed – and now you’re telling me I may not be a Libra after all?

As the creator of the Jewish Zodiac, I am proud to proclaim that our deli food symbols have not changed one iota since their creation way back in 2008!  But that doesn’t mean I didn’t consider foods other than the twelve that grace our placemats, t-shirts and magnets.  In fact at one point it made sense that a Jewish Zodiac would be comprised of eighteen symbols instead of twelve, eighteen being the numeric value of the hebrew word “chai” (life).  But ultimately I decided the irony of eighteen was just too esoteric, and who was I to fiddle with the established concept of zodiacs having twelve symbols?

But there were many deli foods I considered in the creation of the Jewish Zodiac, and seven for which I wrote text: Matzah, Gefilte Fish, Horseradish, Matzah Ball, Brisket, Corn Rye, and Cheesecake.  But ultimately – like Ophiuchus – they didn’t make the cut for various reasons.

Matzah (“you stack up with the best of them”), Gefilte Fish (“horseradish has the hots for you”) and Horseradish (“a cure-all we never Passover”) were not traditional deli staples but rather seasonal Passover items; Matzah Ball (“okay, so you’ve got big ones that swell up three times their size”) was superseded by Chicken Soup although I did think of combining the two; Brisket (“you often stew in your own juices, so learn to express your tender side”) was too similar to Pastrami; Corn Rye (“any way you slice it, like Moses, we’ll always take two”) couldn’t stand alone; and Cheesecake (“fans fight over your every crumb, giving you quite the reputation”) didn’t seem Jewish enough.

So I ask you, dear reader, if you could pick a thirteenth Jewish Zodiac symbol, what would it be, and why?  And don’t feel obligated to stick with the seven mentioned above.  Just make sure it’s something you can order at a deli.

Copyright 2011 The Jewish Zodiac, LLC.

Seth Front is the creator of the Jewish Zodiac®, a deli food parody of the Chinese zodiac, and a screenwriter (“Nickel and Dime”) who writes about his seriocomic Jewish life at blog.jewzo.com.

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