JEWS AND MONEY: The Myths and the Reality by Gerald Krefetz

JEWS AND MONEY: The Myths and the Reality

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The one industry in the United States that Jews do have a lock on""? The toy industry. That observation, at once significant and trivial, typifies Krefetz's good-humored omnium-gatherum on the sensitive subject of Jews-and-money. The point, there and elsewhere, is a dual one: Jews flourish in rapid-change, high-risk businesses; they don't, however, control the communications industry. In his early chapters, Krefetz makes some of the traditional connections between Jews and money: financial independence as a key to survival; ""new businesses and new business forms"" because of Jews' rootlessness, the lesser competition, the rewards for innovation; America as the land of such opportunity, He also cites, among contemporary examples, the Jewish stake in Sixties' conglomerate mergers: ""a none-too-subtle attack on establishment corporations"" (aka, from its Texas-money component, ""the Jewish-cowboy connection""). Early on, he notes the high average Jewish family income; as a final kicker, he stresses the number of poor Jews (mostly the elderly) and their neglect by Jewish organizations. (But whether Jews are indeed ""both the richest and almost the poorest group in American society"" awaits firmer figures.) In between are patchy anecdotal chapters on Jews in banking, the business world, medicine, law--in the latter instance, linking Jews to personal-injury litigation and stockholder actions. (""The individual against a variety of forces,"" says Krefetz; natural talent, good money, ""and it's not on the back of anybody else,"" says a practitioner.) A chapter on international finance chronicles the OPEC boycott of Israeli-linked businesses; chapters on ""crime"" (Meyer Lansky; Louis Wolfson and Eli Black; Bernard Bergman) and on ""the art world"" (the J. M. Kaplan Fund; Rothko v. Marlborough) are mostly titillation. A chapter on fund-raising is pretty flat and stale. Krefetz concludes on a reflective note: will increasingly lean times spur resentment of Jewish affluence? Some of this will of course offend, some nourish anti-Semitism. But Krefetz, aware on both scores, isn't defensive--and he is entertaining.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1982
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin