August 22, 2019

Myths About Jews and Money

“Wrapped in a turban and a mink-lined robe, the old man sits in his opulent home, smiling wryly. The pouch in his hand is full to bursting. Gold coins are scattered across his desk.

The elderly figure is pictured at the center of a board game called the New and Fashionable Game of the Jew, which was popular in early 19th-century England. An 1807 original is on view at an exhibition running through July 7 at the Jewish Museum in London called “Jews, Money, Myth.” The show explores the ways in which Jews have been associated with money over the past 2,000 years.

Displays include objects that belonged to British Jews — buried medieval coins, tally sticks used as proof of loans, soup-kitchen tokens — and representations of Jews in painting; in literature, such as Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” and Charles Dickens’s “Oliver Twist”; in caricatures; and in fascist propaganda.

The Jewish Museum’s aim is to “debunk a lot of the myths that still circulate today,” said Joanne Rosenthal, the exhibition’s curator, “such as Jews exerting a kind of sinister influence on world events, Jews financing disastrous wars around the world for profit, Jews being naturally drawn to money making.””

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