This introductory chapter begins by discussing American Jews's opposition to the anti-alcohol movement since the 1870s and how the movement's success upended Jews' long-standing commercial relationship with alcohol and posed new and stressful challenges to Jewish status and identity in the United States. It then sets out the book's purpose, which is to shed new light on Jewish immigrants' experiences with the processes of “becoming” American, and to consider the function of Jews' relation to alcohol in their acculturation. It asks: Did Jews' participation in the alcohol trade and their opposition to anti-alcohol movements help or hinder their efforts to be accepted within American society? And how did it affect their sense of themselves, both individually and collectively, as an ethnically, religiously, and historically distinct group? An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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