Remembering the Atlanta Based Rabbi who Helped Make Kosher Coca-Cola

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....[Rabbi Tuvia Geffen] of the long beard and wire-rim glasses and Yiddish-inflected English, a man by all outward appearances belonging to the Old World... was the person who by geographical coincidence and unexpected perspicacity adapted Coca-Cola’s secret formula to make the iconic soft drink kosher in one version for Passover and in another for the rest of the year. To this day, his 1935 rabbinical ruling, known in Hebrew as a teshuva, remains the standard.

That ruling, in turn, did much more than solve a dietary problem. A generation after Frank’s lynching, a decade after Congress barred the Golden Door, amid the early stages of Hitler’s genocide, kosher Coke formed a powerful symbol of American Jewry’s place in the mainstream.

“Rabbi Geffen really got the importance of it,” said Marcie Cohen Ferris, a professor of American studies at the University of North Carolina, who specializes in Jewish life in the South. “You couldn’t live in any better place than the South to get it. To not drink Coca-Cola was certainly to be considered un-American.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. David Keller wrote:

I’m sorry no one has commented on this story.  It sounds like the story line for a Monte Python routine: “I’m Coca-Cola drinkin’ Rabbi, and I’m OK…”

April 25, 3:42 pm | [comment link]
2. Teatime2 wrote:

LOL, David Keller. It does have an amusing element to it!

April 25, 4:34 pm | [comment link]
3. BlueOntario wrote:

I look for it each Passover. Sometimes I run across Coke imported from Mexico (as opposed to coke imported from Mexico) which also has that taste which is mearly imitated by the endemic corn syrup-laden stuff on the shelf. But mostly my fix comes at this time. One has to buy early and often.

BTW, does anyone know of a push to make kosher RC? That’s as much a southern staple as Coke.

April 25, 5:29 pm | [comment link]
4. BlueOntario wrote:

Or should I say, Co’Cola?

April 25, 5:29 pm | [comment link]
5. kmh1 wrote:

Cosha Cola - oh vey!

April 25, 5:44 pm | [comment link]
6. carl wrote:

They can make it kosher, but it’s still an inferior soft drink.

Pepsi rules.

representing the new generation

April 25, 5:51 pm | [comment link]
7. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Carl, Carl, Carl.  Clearly the calvinist has predominated in you.  You are doomed to like the overly sweet Pepsi Cola, the inferior product.  It is your predestination, in fact.  Do not fight it.  Just go with it.

April 25, 6:19 pm | [comment link]
8. Teatime2 wrote:

Actually, colas are really bad for you. That was the very first thing my rheumatologist took away from me when he suspected I had Lupus and my kidneys were going wonky. Apparently, colas are hard on everyone’s kidneys, and not just those of us who have Lupus.

I will treat myself to a Dr. Pepper once every three or four months, though. Living reasonably close to Dublin, TX, as I do, I can get the good stuff made with real cane sugar and not corn syrup, etc.

April 25, 6:23 pm | [comment link]
9. Teatime2 wrote:

Thought I should offer something to explain the Dublin comment for those unfamiliar.

The Dublin Dr. Pepper plant celebrates its 120th birthday this year in June with lots of festivities! If you’re near there or a big Dr. Pepper fan, join in the fun!

April 25, 6:27 pm | [comment link]
10. KevinBabb wrote:

In my part of the world, observant Jews just get Mexican Coke during Passover. It used to be harder to get…but with the increasing Latin population over the past ten years or so, it is easy to find a Mexican grocery store, and even the chain groceries are starting to carry “Mexican Coke”, all year round.

April 25, 6:54 pm | [comment link]
11. KevinBabb wrote:

Blue Ontario—they are saving the roll-out on kosher RC Cola to coincide with the release of kosher Moon Pies—why would you have one without the other?

April 25, 6:56 pm | [comment link]
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