Professor Gross: Jewish Food Does Bot Begin and End with Kosher

Thursday, February 15, 2018

JEWISH TELEGRAPHIC AGENCY -- Rachel B. Gross is the John and Marcia Goldman Professor of American Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University. She wrote this opinion piece following controversy over a recent Jewish banquet featuring non-kosher food.

“I was the keynote speaker at Trefa Banquet 2.0, a reference to the most infamous meal in American Jewish history. That historic dinner, known as the Trefa Banquet, was organized in 1883 by Reform leader Isaac Mayer Wise to celebrate the first ordination of Reform rabbis in the United States,” Gross writes.

“ ... The controversy, at its heart, seems to be about how American Jews eat and have eaten communally, and not about the eating practices of individuals. Talking openly about American Jews’ relationship to non-kosher food disturbs many American Jews. Many Jews who do not keep kosher continue to think that kashrut, even when most often observed in the breach, is important to American Jews’ identities.

“But in the age of identity politics, amid a changing American religious landscape, we need more reflection, not less, on the everyday practices that define who we are, in private and public.”