A Meating Place: Providing Kosher Meat in Early Modern Rome. Mechanics, Consumption and the Canons

The seminar “A Meating Place: Providing Kosher Meat in Early Modern Rome. Mechanics, Consumption and the Canons”, by Prof. Kenneth Stow (University of Haifa), took place on November 24, 2022, at the Center for Human and Social Sciences (CCHS), in Madrid.

The question of supplying kosher meat entails more than the mechanics of production. It is, ultimately, a question of how a minority group may maintain its rights and rites within a potentially, if not openly, hostile setting. Theoretically, supplying kosher meat should have been next to impossible. Unless the entire animal slaughtered was purged of certain fats and veins down to the last gram, only certain parts could have been placed on sale and consumed. But to purge (porge, technically, niqur, in Hebrew) the entire animal was prohibitively expensive. The solution was to sell unporged parts to Christian butchers for resale to Christian consumers. But this was canonically illegal and the source of great debate over the centuries. In practice, however, such sales took place, in Italy, but especially Rome, with papal dispensation. Studying the supply of kosher meat thus becomes an integral element in understanding how, especially in pre-modern times, Jews were able to exist within a problematic environment.

Kenneth Stow is Professor of Jewish History Emeritus University of Haifa. He founded the international journal Jewish History, which he edited through 2012. His books include Alienated Minority: The Jews in Medieval Latin Europe (Harvard University Press, 1992 and 1994), Theater of Acculturation: The Roman Ghetto in the Sixteenth Century (University of Washington Press, 2001); Jewish Dogs, An Image and Its Interpreters (Stanford UP, 2006); Anna and Tranquillo: Catholic Anxiety and Jewish Protest in the Age of Revolutions (Yale UP, 2016); and most recently Levi’s Vindication: The “1007 Anonymous” as it really is” (Pittsburgh-HUC Press, 2017). 

Seminar A Meating Place, by Kenneth Stow, poster