Day 6: Gave myself the day off. I think I’m going to skip Shabbat in my daily writing regimen.

Day 7: Started writing up an event I attended last night.

Day 8: Finished writing it up. Speaking of which….


For my “Jew in The Pew” column this week, I attended the Illuminoshi‘s “Trefa Banquet 2.0,” which came complete with a bracha over treyf from Rabbi Sydney Mintz and a talk from my friend, Professor Rachel Gross. If you think you know the story of the Trefa Banquet, you’re probably at least somewhat wrong. Read the whole thing; it’s by far the funniest installment of my column.

Here’s a bit of it:

Az men est khazer, zol es shoyn rinen ibern moyl.
If you’re going to eat pork, eat it until your mouth drips.
— Yiddish saying

Last night at Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco, a foundational myth of American Reform Judaism was memorialized, deconstructed — and then eaten. This was the “Trefa Banquet 2.0,” a delicious spread of treyf (nonkosher food) made by local Jewish chefs and served up with a side of Jewish learning and — get this! — a communal bracha (blessing) for treyf led by a local rabbi.

Add to the liturgy and symbolic foods a narrative recounting of an important Jewish legend, and it was practically a seder.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the original Trefa Banquet (Yiddish for treyf), an 1883 event at which the early American Reform movement made a bold, antagonistic statement by serving treyf dishes at a banquet to commemorate the ordination of the first class of American Reform rabbis. As the story is often told, a group of rabbis stormed out in protest and ran off to start the Conservative movement.

But, as Jewish Studies professor Rachel Gross of San Francisco State University told the crowd Sunday night, that story is only kind of true.

Read the full piece over here at J.