Thursday, June 24, 2010

One reaction to the 'Trefa Banquet.'

The Trefa Banquet of July 1883, in which the first rabbinical ordination dinner of Hebrew Union College featured a lavish, ridiculously non-kosher menu, was the story of the day in American Judaism, and in time took on mythical and symbolic proportions subject to disputed interpretations to this day.

Here is the menu, which seemingly only lacked pork (although I doubt the asparagus was checked):

(Credit: Cleveland Jewish History.)

This was the Rev. Sabato Morais's reaction, published in the American Israelite July 20, 1883 (5643):


  1. Interesting post!
    Here's Commentary Magazine's version of the Banquet:
    -- Phil

  2. I think I heard somewhere that the non-Kosher menu was a mistake is that true?

  3. I know there's been research on it, but I think the question centers on whether or not the menu was chosen by the caterer or the organizers. As it says in Phil's link, "The fact is that whether or not Isaac M. Wise knew of the banquet committee's plans—and he disavowed any knowledge—he refused to condemn what was unquestionably an affront to the sensibilities of those guests who observed kashruth." So it's sort of all academic. It's difficult to read it in a way that doesn't make it a shocking event in Jewish history; this at a dinner honoring recipients of semicha?

  4. The picture of the domed shul linked to in the link to Cleveland Jewish history is intressante. That was R. Abba Hillel Silver's shul. It is the only shul left in Cleveland, which was one teeming with yids.


  5. It was a joke by the chachamim of Chelm!



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