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Religions 2018, 9(10), 296;

Industry or Holy Vocation? When Shehitah and Kashrut Entered the Public Sphere in the United States during the Age of Reform

Independent Scholar, Fayetteville, NC 28306, USA
Received: 24 August 2018 / Revised: 18 September 2018 / Accepted: 26 September 2018 / Published: 30 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Jewish Experience in America)
Full-Text   |   PDF [222 KB, uploaded 30 September 2018]


Long before the Agriprocessors scandal, the question of whether secular law and social concerns should shape the halakhah surrounding kosher meat production has been a live issue in the United States. In the 1890s, a critical mass of Orthodox Jewish immigrants gave rise to a more commercialized kosher meat industry, which raised the question of how much rabbinic legislation concerning kashrut could stay untouched by civil or union regulation. Although there has been plenty written about the regulatory roles of unions and government regulation in the kosher meat industry from the Progressive Era to the New Deal, the purpose of this essay will be to examine the responses of Orthodox rabbinic leaders in America to these developments. It will also focus on the role of non-Jewish legislation in creating greater uniformity of kashrut standards, as well as, ironically a more insular focus on the letter of the law, sometimes at the expense of civil legal concerns. Finally, it will examine how separation of religion and state created the system of kosher certification that emerged during the early twentieth century. View Full-Text
Keywords: kashrut; halakhah kosher slaughter; regulation; Judaism; kosher kashrut; halakhah kosher slaughter; regulation; Judaism; kosher
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Breitzer, S. Industry or Holy Vocation? When Shehitah and Kashrut Entered the Public Sphere in the United States during the Age of Reform. Religions 2018, 9, 296.

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