Kosher in Vienna 1848–1918. Production and Consumption


Kashrut (ritual suitability) is a comprehensive concept of Judaism, which also includes all dietary rules. The kosher way of life is a pillar of Jewish religious practice, lifestyle and identity. Although it can not be ascertained to what percentage the Jewish society – from 1852 on organized in the Jewish Community – practiced Kashrut in Vienna, but it can be assumed that for a relevant part of its approx. 175,000 members in 1910 to a greater or lesser extent Kosher food was necessary. Nevertheless, this aspect of Vienna's Jewish history has so far been only marginally explored. From a historical and cultural perspective, the present project investigates the conditions of a kosher infrastructure in a non-Jewish environment: the production, the kosher-making, its trade and consumption.

For the first time, the project explores the supply of kosher food for the Jewish population of Vienna, from free immigration in 1848 to the proclamation of the First Republic in 1918. Thus, not only the import of agricultural products, which was necessary for the whole of Vienna due to a lack of cultivated land, is investigated, but also kosher manufacturing companies in the food and beverage industry as well as the kosher food trade. On the one hand, questions concerning the observance of dietary rules in a non-Jewish environment and in view of increasing acculturation are to be examined in the broad topic area of ​​final consumption. On the other hand, the technical advances in private households contributed to changes in kosher life practice. Beyond the private sphere, the question of how the need for kosher food in non-denominational public institutions such as hospitals, schools and prisons was taken into account.The great crisis during the period under investigation, the First World War, pushed the city to the limits of its possibilities, not just with regard to the supply of kosher food. It will be investigated which kosher food was still available or affordable in the further course of the war. The supply of ritual food in the military, both for the army as well as for prisoners of war and in refugee camps, will be explored within the framework of the project.

The research of the topic is based on the methodological concept of the "contact zones" that have developed from the "spatial turn" since the 1990s – the category "space" came (again) next to the category "time". Out of "space" and its boundaries emerge different "contact zones" that are constituted and become visible through the interaction of Jewish and non-Jewish actors in all areas of kosher lifestyle. These zones include agricultural production, sales and consumption as well as markets and armed forces. For historical and cultural research, this opens up different geographical, social and cultural spaces that were used by Jews and non-Jews in common, but also in separation from each other.

Information: |mail: Christoph Lind|

We would like to express our thanks to the Anniversary Fund of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank and Land Niederösterreich for their support of this project.