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Jews & Booze: Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition

Boone Center Conference Room
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s):
Marni Davis, Georgia State University

Marni Davis examines American Jews’ complicated relationship to alcohol during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the years of the national prohibition movement’s rise and fall. Davis offers a novel perspective on a previously unstudied area of American Jewish economic activity: the making and selling of liquor, wine, and beer. Alcohol commerce played a crucial role in Jewish immigrant acculturation and the growth of Jewish communities in the United States. But prohibition’s triumph cast a pall on American Jews’ history in the alcohol trade, forcing them to revise, clarify, and defend their communal and civic identities -- both to their fellow Americans and to themselves.