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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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“The Law of the Land Is the Law”

“The Law of the Land Is the Law”

Jews Respond to the Volstead Act

(p.165) 6 “The Law of the Land Is the Law”
Jews and Booze

Marni Davis

NYU Press

This chapter examines how American Jewish leaders struggled both publicly and privately to agree on a communal response to Prohibition. Too many Jews refused to adhere to the law and many others remained openly contemptuous of it. How to change American Jewry's collective mind and transform their behavior so that both aligned with American law? How to convince Jews to choose the universal over the particular, and to acquiesce to an aspect of American culture so discordant with Jewish history and practice? This dilemma confounded Jewish leaders, including many who had themselves spoken against temperance legislation in the past. Now they needed to do more than reorient their own political stance and rhetoric; they were tasked with convincing the American Jewish population to concede to and abide by a law that they had all collectively denounced as unnecessary, puritanical, and in direct contradiction to both Jewish culture and American values.

Keywords:   American Jews, Jewish leaders, prohibition law, alcohol trade, American Jewish community

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