Kashruth, Community, and Control: Shehitah Manuals and Their Afterlives in Modern Europe

March 1, 2021 | Dr. Joshua Teplitsky

How did someone learn to be a kosher butcher in early modern Europe, and what sort of material traces remain from that process? Manuals for ritual slaughterers were a remarkably popular genre in Jewish printing in the early modern period. While these books might appear to be "do it yourself" guides to preparing kosher meat,

the handwritten inscriptions in the margins and blank pages allow us to reconstruct the process by which someone studied and was certified to be a shohet (ritual slaughterer). Discover how print and manuscript culture interacted in the transmission of practical instruction and of "book learning" and learn about the upheavals caused by cases of forgery, deception, and fraud amidst Jewish efforts at regulating, certifying, and controlling the production of kosher meat in modern Europe.

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