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Derek J. Penslar. Shylock's Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe. The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imprint in Jewish Studies. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. xi, 374 pp.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 December 2005

Todd M. Endelman
Affiliation:
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Extract

In the early modern and modern periods, the occupational profile of Jews in the West diverged dramatically from that of their neighbors and fellow citizens. Commerce, rather than agriculture or artisanal or industrial manufacturing, provided the arena in which Jews labored to make a living. From an economic perspective, this was not a problem. It did not place Jews at a competitive disadvantage. Indeed, the opposite was true. In the context of industrialization, urbanization, and mass consumption, buying and selling was more profitable than tolling in a field, workshop, or factory. Having been forced into a narrow range of occupations earlier in their history, Jews in the West now found themselves in an advantageous position economically. However, for Gentiles, who rarely viewed Jews in a disinterested light, the Jewish distinctive occupational profile was problematic and often viewed as symptomatic of a more profound pathology. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with Jews becoming citizens of the states in which they lived and moving rapidly into the middle class, their economic distinctiveness became a central feature of the debate about their fate and future, what was known at the time as the “Jewish Question.”

Type
Modern
Copyright
© 2005 by the Association for Jewish Studies

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Derek J. Penslar. Shylock's Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe. The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imprint in Jewish Studies. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. xi, 374 pp.
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Derek J. Penslar. Shylock's Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe. The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imprint in Jewish Studies. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. xi, 374 pp.
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Derek J. Penslar. Shylock's Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe. The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imprint in Jewish Studies. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. xi, 374 pp.
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