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Community lecture with Jordan Rosenblum, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jews and the Pig: A History

Jan 22, 2024, 5:30pm. In-person event.
UNC Sonja Haynes Stone Center, Hitchcock Room
Directions & Parking in Bell Tower Deck ($1 after 5pm)
Free and Open to the public
UNC Heel Life credit will be available.


Jews do not eat pig. This (not always true) observation has been made by both Jews and non-Jews for three thousand years. Over time, the pig becomes a popular metaphor for Jewish/non-Jewish identity. In this talk, we explore this historical development. Starting in the Hebrew Bible, where the pig is tabooed but not necessarily singled out more than other food prohibitions, we see the emergence of the pig as a symbol of Jewish identity in the Second Temple period and beyond. Along the way, we follow the pig as it forages through Jewish history, appearing during, for example: Roman persecution of ancient rabbis; the Spanish Inquisition when Marranos (“Pigs”) convert to Catholicism in order to survive; in literature ranging from Shakespeare to modern “Off the Derekh (Path)” memoirs; in World War II when many (but not all) American Jewish soldiers were “eating ham for Uncle Sam”; and in recent debates about the kosher status of Impossible Pork.


Jordan D. Rosenblum is the Belzer Professor of Classical Judaism and the Max and Frieda Weinstein-Bascom Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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