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Trefa Banquet

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The "Trefa Banquet" was a dinner held on July 11, 1883 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Held in honor of the first graduating class of Hebrew Union College (including David Philipson, a major source on the event) and the delegates to the eighth annual meeting of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, it offended a number of guests by featuring non-kosher (treyf) foods.[1] It was a crucial event leading up to the split between Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism.[1]

The menu, which eschewed pork[2][3] but included other non-kosher foods such as littleneck clams, soft-shell crabs, shrimp, frog legs, as well as dairy-based desserts to follow the meat-based meal,[1] reflected the dining tendencies of Reform Jews at the time, who maintained the prohibition against pork but commonly ignored others, such as the one on shellfish.[2][3]

It is unlikely that Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the president of Hebrew Union College and leader of American Reform Judaism, was aware of the menu plans of the banquet committee.[1] However, he declined to apologize and condemn the banquet, and instead dismissed "kitchen Judaism" and argued that the dietary laws were obsolete and cheapened the religion in the eyes of others.[1][2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Appel, John J. (February 1966). "The Trefa Banquet". Commentary. 
  2. ^ a b c Sarna, Jonathan D. (2005). American Judaism: A History. Yale University Press. 
  3. ^ a b Sussman, Lance J. (2005). "The Myth of the Trefa Banquet: American Culinary Culture and the Radicalization of Food Policy in American Reform Judaism" (PDF). American Jewish Archives Journal.