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Feasting and FastingThe History and Ethics of Jewish Food$
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Aaron Gross, Jody Myers, and Jordan D. Rosenblum

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479899333

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479899333.001.0001

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The Search for Religious Authenticity and the Case of Passover Peanut Oil

The Search for Religious Authenticity and the Case of Passover Peanut Oil

Chapter:
(p.212) 9. The Search for Religious Authenticity and the Case of Passover Peanut Oil
Source:
Feasting and Fasting
Author(s):

Zev Eleff

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479899333.003.0012

This chapter uses the rise and fall of a popular Passover cooking ingredient to explore the role of competing European folkways to determine the religious course of American Orthodox Judaism. In the first half of the twentieth century, traditional-leaning Jews happily used peanut oil in place of chicken fat, relying on the Lithuanian position that peanuts were not considered a “legume,” a category of foods that Ashkenazic Jewry traditionally withheld from during the Passover holiday, in addition to leaven breads. However, late-arriving Hungarian and Israeli folkways fought and triumphed over the Lithuanian foodway by the final decades of the 1900s. This is emblematic of a broader religious confrontation with American Judaism. The use of a variety of sources––responsa, economic, archival, and periodical literature––underscores the importance of “lived religion” and the usefulness of folkways and foodways to gain a fuller appreciation of religious history.

Keywords:   cooking ingredient, Passover, foodways, Orthodox Judaism, lived religion, responsa, peanut oil, chicken fat

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