Jews and Booze: Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition (Goldstein-Goren Series in American Jewish History)

By Marni Davis

Finalist, 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature from the Jewish booklet Council
From kosher wine to their ties to the liquor exchange in Europe, Jews have a longstanding historic courting with alcohol. yet as soon as prohibition hit the United States, American Jews have been pressured to choose from leaving behind their historic connection to alcohol and final outdoors the yankee mainstream. In Jews and Booze, Marni Davis examines American Jews’ lengthy and complex dating to alcohol in the course of the past due 19th and early 20th centuries, the years of the nationwide prohibition movement’s upward thrust and fall. Bringing to undergo an in depth variety of archival fabrics, Davis deals a unique point of view on a formerly unstudied sector of yank Jewish financial activity—the making and promoting of liquor, wine, and beer—and finds that alcohol trade performed a vital function in Jewish immigrant acculturation and the expansion of Jewish groups within the usa. yet prohibition’s triumph forged a pall on American Jews’ heritage within the alcohol exchange, forcing them to revise, make clear, and shield their communal and civic identities, either to their fellow american citizens and to themselves.    

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Gustav Gottheil of latest York urban echoed Wise’s arguments. In a sermon on Judaism and temperance introduced within the Eighteen Nineties, Gottheil additionally disregarded exegetical claims: “We are sorry we won't provide the temperance reformer the much-coveted convenience of the instance of Jesus,” given that, as a Jew, he could have fed on fermented wine on the final Supper. “We may perhaps render him extra colossal aid . . . no longer as overall abstainers or overall prohibitionists, yet as a sober humans, who've been successfully taught through their faith to exploit each present of God and never to abuse it. ”47 The position that the Jewish domestic and kinfolk performed in inoculating Jews opposed to over the top attitudes towards alcohol additionally figured principally within the antitemperance rhetoric of the Philadelphia rabbi Joseph Krauskopf, a former pupil of clever. Krauskopf beseeched American lawmakers to show clear of the temperance movement’s calls for and as a substitute to seem to the Jews, whose millions of years of expertise had led them to a sane and average method of alcohol intake. “Encourage the tactic pursued in Israel, a style that has nearly freed them from drunkenness and its con58 | “Do as We Israelites Do” sequences,” he declared in an 1889 sermon. “Encourage the loose and open and unrestricted use of alcoholic stimulants in the sacred environments of the house. ” attractiveness of alcohol as part of daily life, in line with Krauskopf, disinclined Jewish males from operating off to the saloon; it stored them at domestic with their households, and “has contributed no small percentage to their  . . . household purity and happiness. ” If all may stick to the Jewish version, he concluded, “there should be Temperance with all, overall Abstinence without any. ”48 Jastrow, too, recommended his fellow electorate to “raise your kids in order to not glance with real or affected horror on a occasion that's cheered up with so-called robust beverages, once you see its contributors come forth unscathed in physique and soul. ”49 Jews, in keeping with Jastrow, taught each upcoming new release to take pleasure in either nature’s bounty and the corporate of others with equivalent measures of joyfulness and self-restraint. these kind of rabbis offered American Jews as exemplars of voluntary moderation, even whereas they refused to permit Jewish background, or the Jewish physique, for use as guns within the temperance arsenal. This process rendered genuine, flesh-and-blood Jews, instead of the traditional Jews of the evangelical mind's eye, because the temperance perfect: sober, industrious, and guided by means of cause. The Orthodox rabbi J. J. Peres of Memphis took it a step additional, claiming that even whereas Jews drank occasionally (as they're advised to do through Scripture), they “feel a patriotism too holy to end up themselves undesirable voters by way of indulging in low debauchery. ” Love of state, Peres insisted, saved American Jews from ingesting to extra and rendering themselves “unworthy of the security of the legislation, the equality of rights, and the affection and esteem in their countrymen. ”50 That Jews usually partook of drink and but remained good americans proved, in keeping with this argument, that overall abstinence used to be pointless for a fit, efficient, and patriotic existence.

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