February 23: Jordan Rosenblum Book Talk on Forbidden: A 3,000-Year History of Jews and the Pig

Please join the Religious Studies Program for our Spring 2024 Brown-Bag Lunch Book Talk. We are excited to hear from Professor Jordan Rosenblum on a topic from his forthcoming book. This event will take place at 12:15pm on Friday, February 23, 2024 in the (note updated location!) main floor conference room in Bradley Memorial Building (Room 202/204). Open to all!

Forbidden: A 3,000-Year History of Jews and the Pig

Abstract: Jews do not eat pig. This (not always true) observation has been made by both Jews and non-Jews for three thousand years. Over time, the pig becomes a popular metaphor for Jewish/non-Jewish identity. In this talk, we explore this historical development. Starting in the Hebrew Bible, where the pig is tabooed but not necessarily singled out more than other food prohibitions, we see the emergence of the pig as a symbol of Jewish identity in the Second Temple period and beyond. Along the way, we follow the pig as it forages through Jewish history, appearing during, for example: Roman persecution of ancient rabbis; the Spanish Inquisition when Marranos (“Pigs”) convert to Catholicism in order to survive; in literature ranging from Shakespeare to modern “Off the Derekh (Path)” memoirs; in World War II when many (but not all) American Jewish soldiers were “eating ham for Uncle Sam”; and in recent debates about the kosher status of Impossible Pork. Download the event poster as a PDF.

Jordan D. Rosenblum is the Belzer Professor of Classical Judaism, the Max and Frieda Weinstein-Bascom Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the current director of the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies (CJS).