The forgotten history of Jews in the alcohol industry


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This may be surprising, but Jews have a long and very influential history in the alcohol industry spanning Europe, Israel and North America.

For most of the 1800s, Eastern European Jews held a virtual monopoly on the business in their regions. They produced much of the beer and hard alcohol, and ran nearly all the taverns where it was sold. Jews had been in the trade for centuries, but when Polish landowners saw they could make 50% greater profits by turning grain into alcohol than by selling it for food, Jews seized the chance to play an integral role.

At the time, Polish Jews could neithe...

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