The last document is for May 26. After each group has shared a response to that day’s information, read the following statement (an excerpt from an article on the kosher meat boycott by Professor Paula Hyman):

On May 27, Orthodox leaders, who had hesitated to express formal endorsement of the boycott, joined the fray. By June 5, the strike was concluded. The wholesale price of kosher meat was rolled back to nine cents a pound so that the retail price would be pegged at fourteen cents a pound. Kosher meat cooperatives, which were established during the strike in both Brooklyn and Harlem, continued in existence. While meat prices began to rise inexorably again in the period following the conclusion of the boycott, the movement can still be considered a qualified success.[1]

Now lead a discussion with the whole class using the following questions:

  1. Why do you think Professor Hyman argued that the boycott was a success? What about the boycott do you think was successful?
  2. How did our class’s day-by-day responses differ from what actually happened? Did anything that happened in the historical events in 1902 surprise you? If there were differences between your class’s responses and how the events actually played out, ask the students what they think accounts for the differences.
  3. What did you notice about how the various newspapers depicted the events differently? Point out specific examples from the articles.
  4. Tell students that food boycotts, as well as rent boycotts, would become commonplace through the first half of the twentieth century. Explain that in 1904 and 1907, rent strikes were held in the same neighborhoods as the meat boycott and were largely organized by housewives, demonstrating that the housewives had learned from the meat boycott how to do this style of grass-roots organizing. Ask students: why do you think people would resort to this kind of activism if it didn’t necessarily solve problems long-term?
  5. Ask students with which of the following statements they most agree:
    1. Consumer boycotts don’t solve anything; to change things economically, you either have to be more militant or seek change in government policy.
    2. When people boycott, they are taking charge of their own economic life and using their collective power, which gets the government or other organizing bodies to make economic changes.
    3. The effects of boycotts such as this one may be more subtle, but no less important for their subtlety, than legislative or political change.

Now have students read the document about the 1907 rent strike, and ask them if their opinions on the last question changed as a result. Why or why not?


[1] Hyman, Paula, “Immigrant Women and Consumer Protest: The New York City Kosher Meat Boycott of 1902,” The American Jewish Experience, Second Edition, Jonathan D. Sarna, ed. (New York: Holmes & Meir, 1997) 157.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Discussion." (Viewed on December 5, 2023) <https://jwa.org/node/14913>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now