I have always been fascinated with the story of the Titanic – especially as portrayed in countless films about the tragic sinking, 100 years ago. I knew there were Jewish passengers on board but I never actually stopped to think whether they had kosher food or not. My mind just got stuck on the tragic loss of life.
In fact, the Titanic did have kosher food service and it even had a chef responsible for its preparation – Charles Kennell. But there is not really a lot of information about the kosher food service to be found.
Charles Haas, President of the Titanic International Society has said that by the time the Titanic sailed there were kosher kitchens on the White Star, Cunard and German cruise lines. The earliest reference found to kosher food available on a cruise liner was from 1904.
“There’s an article in the Trenton Times in June 1904 and it says, among other things, ‘American Line officials arranged another innovation in the form of special kosher cooks for the Jews. The English will have their meals served separately and their cabins will also be separate from those of the Jews.’ And that was on the S.S. Philadelphia.”
Valery Bazarov, director of family history and location services for HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, also confirmed the first decade of the 20th century as the beginning of kosher food service on liners crossing the Atlantic. He added that HIAS, which continues to help resettle Jewish refugees to America, established a kosher kitchen at Ellis Island in 1911.
The Titanic hit an iceberg at 11.40 pm on April 14th 1912 and sunk at 2.20 am on April 15th 1912. 2,225 people were on board, 1,512 of them perished that night.
The Times of Israel has written in depth on this subject – please CLICK TO READ MORE.