The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902

Potomac. Dec. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781640123588. $32.95. SOC SCI
In this latest work, historian Seligman (The Third Degree; The First Chinese American) presents a historical account of the 1902 revolt against kosher meat markets on New York’s Lower East Side. More than 3,000 Jewish women protested the rising prices of kosher meat. The action was designed to make a statement and get the desired results: lower prices. Instead, it turned into a confrontational protest where customers who crossed picket lines had their purchases taken away and tossed, butcher shop windows were damaged, and protesters were sent to hospitals because of blows suffered from police nightsticks. The movement spread throughout the city and the result presaged later consumer movements. Throughout the chapters, Seligman describes the world of turn of the century New York, with a focus on the personalities involved such as Ferdinand Sulzberger, president of New York-based meat wholesaler Schwarzschild & Sulzberger, as well as Frederick Joseph (1851–1931), Sulzberger’s son-in-law and in influential figure at the company. Primary images throughout add historical context.
VERDICT Relying on primary source materials, Seligman has created a highly readable and enjoyable account of this little-known episode in American history. Highly recommended, especially for those interested in American history and Jewish history, as well as gender and labor studies.
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