We Are What We Eat

New Book Takes Groundbreaking Look at the Relationship Between Jewish Eating Practices and Identity Through the Ages

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: nijacobson@jtsa.edu

August 1, 2007, New York, NY

We are what we eat. Now take this oft-quoted truism a step further: we are also how, when, where

and with whom we eat.

Jewish Eating and Identity Through the Ages (Routledge, June 2007) is the first book ever to explore the history of Jewish eating practices from the Bible to the present, and the first to interpret Jewish eating practices throughout the ages as keys to understanding current Jewish identities.

Written by Dr. David Kraemer, Jewish Eating and Identity starts at the beginning — with the Torah — and then follows the history of Jewish eating from the Holy Land and Babylonia (Iraq) in antiquity to medieval France and Spain and Italy, on to early modern Germany and Poland, and finally to the United States and the current “kashrut wars.” It pays careful attention to Jewish dietary laws in each time and place, but it does not stop there. It also looks for Jews who bend and break the law and who develop their own hybrid customs. In this colorful history of Jewish eating, the reader gets more than a taste of how expressive and crucial eating choices have been since the beginning of time.

David Kraemer is the Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary. In his research, he is particularly interested in literary analysis of rabbinic literature, rabbinic ritual and the social and religious history of Jews in Late Antiquity. Over the course of his twenty-five years at JTS, he has contributed to the training of thousands of rabbis, cantors, Jewish educators and others, many of whom are now active as leaders in Jewish communities across the country and abroad.

He has published six books on topics as varied as rabbinic understandings of human suffering, beliefs concerning death and the afterlife in Rabbinic Judaism, and the Jewish family. His intellectual history of the Babylonian Talmud, The Mind of the Talmud, was named an Outstanding Academic Book of 1991 by Choice magazine, the premier source of reviews of academic books. Dr. Kraemer has also published hundreds of articles, columns and opinion pieces, both scholarly and popular, and is very comfortable in his own kitchen.

Editors/Reporters: To schedule and interview with Dr. Kraemer, please contact Sherry Kirschenbaum in the Department of Communications at (212) 678-8953; or email shkirschenbaum@jtsa.edu.

Founded in 1886 as a rabbinical school, The Jewish Theological Seminary today is the academic and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism worldwide, encompassing a world-class library and five schools. JTS trains tomorrow's religious, educational, academic, and lay leaders for the Jewish community
and beyond.