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Jews and BoozeBecoming American in the Age of Prohibition$
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Marni Davis

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814720288

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814720288.001.0001

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“Do as We Israelites Do”

“Do as We Israelites Do”

American Jews and the Gilded Age Temperance Movement

(p.41) 2 “Do as We Israelites Do”
Jews and Booze

Marni Davis

NYU Press

This chapter examines American Jews' critique of the temperance movement. They dismissed the movement's claim that morally right-minded people never touched a drop, and presented themselves as proof that alcohol could be consumed in a spirit of self-restraint. They claimed that the movement's demand for the legal prohibition of the manufacture and sale of alcohol imposed unjust restrictions on personal behavior and commercial enterprise. They also expressed horror at the gendered nature of temperance politics, insisting that the woman's sphere did not include public demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience. In sum, American Jews regarded the anti-alcohol movement as politically wrong-headed—even repulsive—and certainly as inimical to the civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.

Keywords:   American Jews, temperance movement, prohibition, anti-alcohol movement, temperance politics, civil liberty

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