Filthy Lucre: A Look at the History of Jews and Money

An exhibit at the Jewish Museum London showcases the old, vicious stereotype with the aim of debunking it. But does it succeed?

From The New and Fashionable Game of the Jew, a medieval gambling activity. Jewish Museum London.

From The New and Fashionable Game of the Jew, a medieval gambling activity. Jewish Museum London.

Observation
June 12 2019
About the author

Diana Muir Appelbaum, a writer and historian, is at work on a book about nationhood and democracy. Her museum reviews have appeared in the Claremont Review, the New Rambler, and elsewhere.


Perhaps you have stood in a Polish open-air market and wondered what to make of the booths selling little figurines of traditionally dressed Jews clutching moneybags. Is this classic anti-Semitic trope of the coin-clutching Jew excused by the fact that most of the figurines on sale are cute little Jew dolls? Or by the belief that owning one will bring money and prosperity into a home?

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More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Money, Moneylending