This chapter discusses how Jews' involvement in the alcohol trade complicated their efforts to assimilate into American society. It explains how American Jews' relationships to commercial capitalism, to particular commodities, to one another within commodity chains (even illicit ones), and to their customers and competitors profoundly shaped their experiences, both as members of a community endeavoring to define Jewish identity in their new setting, and as immigrants and outsiders striving to become more secure in their American identities. When their merchandise was reviled, as was the case during the Prohibition, it not only undermined their status as Americans, but also threatened to untether their attachments to one another. The chapter also details how Jews' engagement in the American alcohol trade helps explain the industry's growth; and their involvement in “wet” politics offers a new angle from which to survey the political and cultural landscape of the day.
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