Tag Archives: traditional Judaism

The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City Book Review

Food is more than the nourishment our body needs to survive. It tells the story of the people who prepared it.

The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City by Scott Seligman was published last year. One of the major tenets of traditional Judaism is keeping kosher. That means that certain foods are off limits. Meat and dairy dishes cannot be combined in the same meal. There must be two sets of dishes and two sets of preparation tools. Most of all, the only acceptable meat is kosher. The problem with kosher meat is that it is more expensive than its non-kosher counterpart.

In May of 1902, many Jewish families who resided in New York City were poor immigrants, barely struggling to get by. But in spite of the hardships, they were determined to maintain their traditions. That included the food they purchased and consumed. When the price of the animal based proteins rose beyond what many could afford, women took to the streets, believing that price gouges were responsible for the increase. What started out as a non-violent movement turned into a battle for the hearts and minds of the community. Led by women who lacked the education and opportunities of their uptown peers, it is a story of not just economic survival, but the average person fighting against the powerful.

This book is obviously a niche subject and right up my alley. This is my history and the women I come from. Instead of keeping silent, they stood up for themselves and their community. In doing so, these women blazed a path and helped to created the blueprint for the modern non-violent protest that we see today.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, New York City, Politics

Deborah, Golda And Me Book Review

On the surface, religion and feminism seem to be at odds with one another. Among the world’s major religions, women are often seen as secondary to men. Feminism demands that women be treated as equals to men.

Letty Pogrebin‘s 1992 book, Deborah, Golda And Me, is about Ms. Pogrebin’s journey as she reconciles her faith with her feminist beliefs. Raised in an observant home, she lost her mother as a young woman. Traditional Judaism states that only a man may say kaddish (prayer for the dead). Unable to say kaddish, she drifted away from traditional Judaism. In time, she found a way to mingle Judaism and feminism. While some of the book focuses on the author’s personal journey, other chapters discuss topics such as feminism from the perspective of Black and Jewish women and feminist attitudes in South Africa.

This book is a groundbreaking work of non fiction. While it is not a light read, it is a book that every Jewish woman should read.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism