Online Event

Food Fights: Authority and Authenticity in American Jewish Food

December 13 @ 7:00 pm 8:00 pm PST

Food Fights: Authority and Authenticity in American Jewish Food

About this event

This course will examine shifting ideas about who is an authority on Jewish food and what counts as Jewish food in the United States throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We’ll examine artisanal delis (including in the Bay Area), the 1933 Crisco Recipes for the Jewish Housewife, and the “culinary delights” of 1950s kitchens. Manufacturers, cookbook authors, publishers, and restaurateurs have all used food to express their longing for Jewish pasts, to reshape American Jewish communities in the present, and to articulate values for the future. Thinking about American Jewish food in these contexts will help us reconsider where we look for religious practice and whom we see as a religious expert.

Session 1: Referendum on the Jewish Deli Menu: American Jewish Religion and the Deli Revival (October 14 — register at

Session 2: Jews, Schmaltz, and Crisco: Authority and Authenticity in the Age of Industrial Food (12/6)

Session 3: Shabbat Candlestick Salad: The Serious Business of Jewish Food and Fun in the 1950s (12/13)

Rachel B. Gross is Assistant Professor and John and Marcia Goldman Chair in American Jewish Studies in the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University. She is a religious studies scholar who studies twentieth- and twenty-first-century American Jews. Her book, Beyond the Synagogue: Jewish Nostalgia as Religious Practice (New York University Press, 2021), received an Honorable Mention for the 2021 Saul Viener Book Prize, of the American Jewish Historical Society.


December 13
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm PST
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