Cover Image: The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902

The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

We should all read this book as it seems, in some sense, that history is repeating itself. Shortages, price hikes protests are all woven in the fabric of 2020. This war however, started with the women who were far more courageous than most - when you need something specific for your family and you can't get it - one tends to get riled, and these women were riled. Interestingly though how far the effects of this war were felt. I doubt many of us knoew.

Was this review helpful?

I was eager to read this book as I had never heard of these events taking place. The author gives a blow by blow description of what happened during a time which was eventful both in the history of New York and the history of the United States. This was the era of the big trusts which controlled many of the industries of the time including in this instance, the meat industry. A comparatively few corporations combined to set the price of meat throughout the US. The Jewish population was particularly vulnerable as kosher meat must be specially treated and the animal must be slaughtered in a particular way which makes the price of the meat higher even when subject to market prices. When the "Meat Trust" increased the price of kosher meat, the women of New York rose up and protested, sometimes violently. Many of them were beaten and jailed. The businesses they were rioting against were in most ways as much victims as they were; they were simply passing on price increases handed down from the trust.

This book was indeed very informative. It covered the subject well but I had the feeling that much of the information was culled from the newspapers of the time. There was little about what made these women so very desperate. I would have liked greater use of first person accounts and family histories among other topics. In addition, this story contained the begining of what were to become major themes in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and an opportunity to expand on these beginnings was lost here at the expense of detailed explanations of anti-trust litigation. At least at first, these protests were led almost entirely by women. Although the leadership was eventually taken over by men we can see the blossoming of the women's rights movement. The victims of the trust were almost entirely immigrants. How they were seen and treated echoes in the news today. The New York City police treated the protesters brutally and they were fined excessively. Government sanctioned anti-semitism was clearly at work and although the author covered this briefly I would have liked to have known more.

This was a good book that did not live up to its potential to be a great book

Was this review helpful?

This book was absolutely fascinating. My mind just loved taking in all the new information. Would recommend.

Was this review helpful?

Wow! What a compelling read! Where to begin?!

This fantastic book details the story of Russian and East European Jewish women's protests against continually rising Kosher beef prices in 1902 New York. The protests pit Jews against fellow Jewish people, including their trusted butchers. Violence became common as groups of women stormed butcher shops and patrons, literally ripping beef from shelves and hands, throwing it into gutters, reasoning that butchers would therefore need to lower prices. Police became involved and were attacked and injured. Butcher shops were boycotted and those which remained open were destroyed.

Impoverished families were desperate for food and as Jews, especially Orthodox Jews, were limited by strict Hebrew Old Testament laws. Amongst a plethora of other things, the book chronicles the important of railroads, kosher butchering process and struggles on all sides as well as outcomes such as new laws and acts passed under Roosevelt.

I had no idea of the gravity of this, having only read a brief mention. What a revelation! The chronology was helpful and the photographs were brilliant and personalized the accounts. Obviously the author did an unfathomable amount of research. The courage and determination of these women is impossible to grasp.

Anyone interested in Jewish history truly should read this book. It gives a completely different vantage point, very in depth and thorough.

Was this review helpful?