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Brown University and Mrs. Smith’s Kosher Kitchen

Gatecrashers Ep. 5: The Providence, RI, family that fed observant Jewish students and the 1960s push for on-campus kosher dining options

by
Tablet Podcasts
October 04, 2022
Original photo: Wikipedia
Original photo: Wikipedia
Original photo: Wikipedia
Original photo: Wikipedia

While today most American universities offer all sorts of dining accommodations, the on-campus dining scene in the 1950s was far less welcoming for students with specific dietary needs. For students who observed the Jewish dietary laws known as kashrut, and therefore didn’t mix milk with meat or eat pork or shellfish (among other restrictions), their options for elite colleges were narrowed even further, often to schools in big cities where kosher meat and other offerings could more easily be procured.

The Brown family dining room

The Brown family dining roomCourtesy Meryl Smith Raskin

So when a kosher-keeping high school senior from New York City wanted to attend Brown in the late 1950s, he was directed to an observant Jewish home near campus in Providence, RI, where Miriam Smith cooked kosher meals for him and, soon, an increasing number of observant Brown and Pembroke students.

Episode 5 of Gatecrashers features reflections from Meryl Smith Raskin (Pembroke ‘66), Herschel Smith (Brown ‘62), Richard Hirsch (Brown ‘63), and others about Mrs. Smith’s kitchen and the fight to get Brown to provide—and subsidize—kosher meals. Scholars Rachel Gordan of the University of Florida and Zev Eleff of Gratz College offer insight into mid-century American Jewish life and the growth of America’s kosher food industry in the post-war period.

Original image: Wikipedia
Gatecrashers
Ep. 5: Brown University and Mrs. Smith's Kosher Kitchen
The Providence, Rhode Island, family that fed observant Jewish students and the 1960s push for on-campus kosher dining options
October 04, 2022
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