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

Forbidden: A 3,000-Year History of Jews and the Pig By Jordan D. Rosenblum Cover Image
Email or call for price


A surprising history of how the pig has influenced Jewish identity

Jews do not eat pig. This (not always true) observation has been made by both Jews and non-Jews for more than three thousand years and is rooted in biblical law. Though the Torah prohibits eating pig meat, it is not singled out more than other food prohibitions. Horses, rabbits, squirrels, and even vultures, while also not kosher, do not inspire the same level of revulsion for Jews as the pig. The pig has become an iconic symbol for people to signal their Jewishness, non-Jewishness, or rebellion from Judaism. There is nothing in the Bible that suggests Jews are meant to embrace this level of pig-phobia.

Starting with the Hebrew Bible, Jordan D. Rosenblum historicizes the emergence of the pig as a key symbol of Jewish identity, from the Roman persecution of ancient rabbis, to the Spanish Inquisition, when so-called Marranos ("Pigs") converted to Catholicism, to Shakespeare's writings, to modern memoirs of those leaving Orthodox Judaism. The pig appears in debates about Jewish emancipation in eighteenth-century England and in vaccine conspiracies; in World War II rallying cries, when many American Jewish soldiers were "eating ham for Uncle Sam;" in conversations about pig sandwiches reportedly consumed by Karl Marx; and in recent deliberations about the kosher status of Impossible Pork.

All told, there is a rich and varied story about the associations of Jews and pigs over time, both emerging from within Judaism and imposed on Jews by others. Expansive yet accessible, Forbidden offers a captivating look into Jewish history and identity through the lens of the pig.

About the Author

Jordan Rosenblum is Professor of Religious Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is also the Belzer Professor of Classical Judaism at the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies. He is the author of many books, including Rabbinic Drinking: What Beverages Teach Us About Rabbinic Literature, The Jewish Dietary Laws in the Ancient World and Food and Identity in Early Rabbinic Judaism and coeditor of Feasting and Fasting: The History and Ethics of Jewish Food.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781479831494
ISBN-10: 1479831492
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication Date: October 8th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English