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The Sturgeon: The Fish that Divided the Ashkenazic World

Hosted By: Orange County Community Scholar Program (CSP)

The debate over the kashrut of the sturgeon in turn of the 19th century Hungary began as a relatively minor Halachic dispute. Within a couple of years it erupted into a full-blown war of words replete with denunciations and threats of excommunication. Beyond the original fish question, at stake in this explosive controversy was the dynamic nature of Jewish law and whether or not long-established conventional tools of halachic-based innovation were still acceptable in the modern world. In the end, the controversy laid the basis for the emergence of Hungarian-style religious reform and the rejectionist posture that came to known as Orthodox Judaism.

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