The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902
Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020
Live online at 4 pm ET
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Past program. View the recording here.
In response to a precipitous rise in the price of kosher meat, thousands of Jewish women took to the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side on May 15, 1902. Their stated intention was to shut down every kosher butcher shop until prices came down. What was conceived as a nonviolent effort did not remain so for long. In The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City (University of Nebraska Press, 2020), writer and historian Scott D. Seligman tells the twin stories of the Beef Trust, the midwestern cartel that conspired to keep meat prices high despite efforts by the U.S. government to curtail its nefarious practices, and the mostly uneducated female immigrants who discovered their collective consumer power. With few resources and little experience but a great deal of steely determination, this group of women organized themselves into a potent fighting force, and in their first foray into the political arena in their adopted country, successfully challenged powerful vested corporate interests and set a pattern for future generations to follow.