The organizers expected just 50 people. But on May 15, 1902, nearly 500 women packed into the meeting hall at 88 Monroe St. on the Lower East Side, with more gathered outside.
“New York never saw such a huge gathering of Jewish women,” one of the local newspapers proclaimed.
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And the women were angry. The ladies took turns addressing the crowd, but it was Fanny Levy, a 35-year-old mother of six, who had the line of the evening. Lamenting the lack of results that efforts from others had brought, Levy exhorted the crowd, “This is their strike? Let the women make a strike; then there will be a strike!”
For an early example of activism and the power of women in New York City, look no further than the kosher meat strike of 1902 — a mostly forgotten incident that tore the Lower East Side apart. “This is an early example of consumer activism,” says Scott D. Seligman, author of the new book, “The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City” (Potomac Books).
The trouble began when the price of kosher beef shot up some 50 percent in just a few months.
“At 18 cents a pound — $5.25 in today’s dollars — kosher beef was now beyond the reach of families that had to pinch pennies to make ends meet,” the author writes.
The Lower East Side’s massive Jewish community was understandably upset, and felt the price hike was due to more nefarious forces than just simple supply and demand.
They weren’t wrong. “There was no question the price was being manipulated,” Seligman said. Read more at NY Post