Published Work

Is Coca-Cola Kosher? Rabbi Tobias Geffen and the History of American Orthodoxy

Rav Chesed: Essays in Honor of Rabbi Dr. Haskel Lookstein | 09/24/2009

The ability of the American Orthodox rabbinate to enhance Jewish life through its involvement with the broader American community is taken for granted today. Yet for the immigrant Jewish community of the early twentieth century, such rabbinic influence was for the most part a distant dream. The American rabbi, whether educated in Europe or in the United States, rarely possessed the connections or credibility necessary to influence the outside community, One important exception was the successful effort in the 1920s and 1930s by Rabbi Tobias Geifen to convince the executives of Coca-Cola to make the necessary changes in the formulation of its famous beverage so it would meet the standards of kashrut. The story of Rabbi Geffen and the beginnings of his rabbinic supervision of Coca-Cola offers an early model of the ways in which the Orthodox rabbinate adjusted to changing circumstances in order to serve the Jewish community of America.

Download the entire article here.