Arts & Culture

The Five Myths of Jews and Money

I’ve been collecting data regarding Jews and money for the purposes of marketing our book, Jewish Wisdom for Business Success. When talking in the press about Jewish success in business, I want to make sure I stand on firm empirical … Read More

By / October 14, 2008

I’ve been collecting data regarding Jews and money for the purposes of marketing our book, Jewish Wisdom for Business Success. When talking in the press about Jewish success in business, I want to make sure I stand on firm empirical ground in regards to whether there’s statistical evidence that the Jewish community is more successful than the population at large when it comes to making money.

In the course of my reading, I’ve identified some surprising themes, which I’ll summarize here as the five myths of Jews and money. It’s a teaser: I’ll provide more depth and breadth to the assertions in the weeks ahead. But here are my big five:

*Jews developed the banking industry because they dominated the money-lending industry in the middle ages, thanks to a Church proscription against usury (something which didn’t apply to Jews).

*Jews are more successful in business than any other immigrant community in the United States in the last 100 years.

*The Jewish religious tradition views poverty as an emblem of piety.

*Karl Marx’s theories were based on traditional Jewish concepts of communal partnership and the sympathy for the victimhood of the lower class.

*The patriarchs of the Torah were penniless wanderers who lived from day to day on the kindness of others.

Anybody who has any thoughts, advice or suggestions for data sources on any of the above assertions, please drop me a note at samjaffe@gmail.com. Likewise, if you think of a more obvious candidate for a myth–something that is commonly accepted in popular culture but is in fact baseless in fact–please make a suggestion.

Cross-posted from Gates of Emporia, personal blog of Sam Jaffe, co-author of Jewish Wisdom for Buisness Success.  He’s also guest-blogging on Jewcy, and he’ll be here all week.  Stay tuned.