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Jews Welcome Coffee

Tradition and Innovation in Early Modern Germany

Robert Liberles

Publication Year: 2012

Tracing the introduction of coffee into Europe, Robert Liberles challenges long-held assumptions about early modern Jewish history and shows how the Jews harnessed an innovation that enriched their personal, religious, social, and economic lives. Focusing on Jewish society in Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and using coffee as a key to understanding social change, Liberles analyzes German rabbinic rulings on coffee, Jewish consumption patterns, the commercial importance of coffee for various social strata, differences based on gender, and the efforts of German authorities to restrict Jewish trade in coffee, as well as the integration of Jews into society.

Published by: Brandeis University Press


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Series Page

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Title Page, Copyright

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p. vii

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Introduction: What Should One Drink?

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pp. ix-xviii

In the period between the American Revolution and the French, the German Enlightenment figure and journal editor August Ludwig Schlözer published an article attributed to a Professor Leidenfrost on yet another revolution: that in the European diet over...

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1. Coffee’s Social Dimensions

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pp. 1-18

In his novel The Coffee Trader, David Liss offers two exquisite vignettes that capture first contacts with coffee in early modern Amsterdam. The novel opens with its hero’s virgin encounter with coffee: “Firmer than water or wine, it rippled thickly in the bowl, dark and hot and uninviting...

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2. Coffee and Controversies in Germany

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pp. 19-36

Coffee became an issue in Germany in different ways than in other countries or cultures. Th e coffee debates superbly illustrate the sense of social upheaval in Germany during the late eighteenth century, as many members of the educated and ruling elite balked at change that...

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3. The Rabbis Welcome Coffee

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pp. 37-59

Religious and political establishments, first across the Islamic world and later in Europe, responded to coffee at times with ambiguity or even hostility, a response that was intended to reduce the popular enthusiasm for it that had emerged in those same societies. In contrast, Jewish...

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4. Coffee in Everyday Life: Consumption, Petty Trade, and Religious Life

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pp. 61-83

Ironically, few things baffle a historian of everyday life as much as the routine of daily living. Describing the habitual oft en falls beyond what we can prove and perhaps even what we can guess. The writing of daily-life history requires considerable caution as we carefully cast the matrix of...

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5. It Is Not Permitted, Therefore It Is Forbidden: Controversies over the Jewish Coffee Trade

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pp. 85-113

Coffee provides a potent symbol of the tentative advance of Jews on the path toward increased economic and social integration into German society in the later years of the eighteenth century. In a period in which historians have found much reason for Jews to be hopeful concerning their...

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6. If Only They Had Worn Their Cocardes: Jews, Coffeehouses, and Social Integration

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pp. 115-132

Near the end of the eighteenth century, in the last days of the Frankfurt ghetto, Jews and Christians had separate coffeehouses. In 1796 the ghetto walls came down, during the French bombardment of the city. Despite the rather drastic change in their physical parameters, there seems not...

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Epilogue: Tradition and Innovation

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pp. 133-137

While writing my doctoral dissertation in the mid-1970s, I worked with a group of secular teenagers in Ashdod, instructing them in various aspects of Jewish tradition. As part of the program, I brought them to Jerusalem for a two-day trip. At this time, private vehicles in...


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pp. 139-154


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pp. 155-162


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pp. 163-169

E-ISBN-13: 9781611682472
E-ISBN-10: 1611682479
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611682458

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 793207865
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Jews Welcome Coffee

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Jews -- Germany -- History.
  • Coffee drinking -- Germany -- History.
  • Coffee -- Germany -- History.
  • Jews -- Germany -- Social life and customs.
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