One of the underreported aspects of Titanic is that there were Jewish passengers aboard. Only 27 Jews survived and they were welcomed by the Hebrew Sheltering Home and Immigrant Aide in New York. Synagogues all over the country viewed the sinking as a tragedy. And inspired songs as well.
One of the problems encountered by Jewish passengers was staying true to Kashrut (religious dietary laws called kosher). Jews comprised a fair number of 3 rd class passengers on these ships but many ships had no facilities for kosher food preparation. That meant either you brought rations to eat on the voyage or you fasted. And fasting was not easy on a 5 day or more journey across the Atlantic ocean. In fact, some died from starvation.
The Hamburg-Amerika line started in 1905 having kosher food prepared aboard to serve to mainly 3rd class Jewish passengers. Other lines began to do the same because they could market that Jews would get kosher food aboard their ships to America. And since 3rd class was very profitable for the large liners, it was worth the cost to do so.
The Hebrew steerage passengers were looked after by a Hebrew who is employed by the company as a cook, and is at the same time appointed by Rabbi as guardian of such passengers. This particular man told me that he is a pioneer in this work. He was the first to receive such an appointment. It is his duty to see that all the Jewish passengers are assigned to sleeping quarters that are as comfortable and as good as any; to see that kosher food is provided and to prepare it. He has done duty on most of the ships of the White Star line. On each he has instituted this system of caring for the Hebrews and then has left it to be looked after by some successor.(U.S. Immigration Report, 1909)
Titanic had kosher service according to a recent article on jewishpress.com. “All kosher serving dinnerware and utensils for all classes on the Titanic were marked “milk” or “meat,” and mashgichim (supervising rabbis) were authorized by White Star to regularly inspect the ship’s catering departments in both England and New York. Those who ate kosher food used the same tables as everyone else, were served in the same manner, and were fed food of the same quality.” There was also a kosher butcher that supplied meat and rabbinical supervision to make sure the food was prepared according to Kashrut dietary laws.
Sadly no kosher menu has survived from the White Star Line but it is surmised they did exist. References to kosher meat and being served to Jewish passengers suggest that a menu had to exist. It is a fascinating bit of history to read about. And continues to show Titanic still has stories to tell.
The tragic loss of life recently in a Santa Barbara boat fire is going to trigger lawsuits against the boat owner and perhaps other parties as well. It is being reported that the boat owner, Truth Aquatics Inc. has filed a lawsuit to limit its liability. It is suing under the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851 which says the owner of a ship can limit damage claims to the value of the ship. They must show that the owners had no knowledge of potentially dangerous flaws. The law was used to protect White Star Line from huge lawsuits back in 1912. And apparently has been used since then as well and survived legal challenges that took it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Legal experts are stating it is not unexpected as they are trying to limit damage claims by the families of those who lost loved ones. Others criticize the decision as heartless. Since this occurred on water and involves maritime law, the legal action will take place in federal court which has jurisdiction on these matters. What is likely to occur will be confidential settlements between the company and the parties that sue for damages. While the lawyers for the parties seeking damages will talk publicly about trying to upend this law, in reality it will be more difficult then it first appears. And it will cost money if the parties seeking damages have to foot the bill for appealing it up if they lose at any stage of the process.
Labor Day is a U.S. federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September. It became a federal holiday in 1894 to celebrate workers and their achievements. It has also become the unofficial end of summer as schools have reopened and summer vacations have ended. As a federal holiday, all federal offices are closed as are banks and the stock market. All states celebrate it as well so state, county, and city offices are closed as well. Nearly all professional offices are closed and most construction workers have the day off as well. Retail and fast food employees do not get the day off except in areas where due to the holiday they get virtually no business.
September has arrived and Labor Day tomorrow in the U.S. Summer is not officially over but is for all intents and purposes. Schools have already started around where I live, bus schedules now reflect school stops. Already some trees are starting to drop leaves. Halloween decorations, costumes, and candy are showing up in stores. I guess it is never too early to buy candy for Halloween. For retailers the last of the summer retail sales are underway. They need to clear space for autumn, Halloween, and Christmas.
The days are starting to get shorter now. Each day has the sun coming up just a bit later and setting earlier. In some places the weather starts changing as well. Still warm and pleasant days in many cases but nights start getting cooler. Suddenly those sweaters and jackets neatly stowed away are now being brought out of storage and made ready. Alas the summer wear not goes into storage.
Out here we tend to get more warmer weather due to winds shifting from the hotter inland regions in Arizona and the California Central Valley. September and October are considered good months to visit San Francisco since there is less fog. But you can be caught short when the fog makes a surprise visit in the afternoon. Many a tourist is caught shivering in their shorts.
For baseball fans, it is a time when the playoffs firm up. American football is now gearing up so fans are getting ready for an exciting season there. Of course if you are waiting for your favorite show to come back from summer hiatus, the wait is not long. Happy Sunday everyone and welcome (almost) to autumn.