A hearty congratulations to our editor in Modern Jewish History, Adam D. Mendelsohn, who has just been awarded the Jewish Book Council’s “Celebrate 350 Award” for his book, The Rag Race: How Jews Sewed Their Way to Success in America and The British Empire. From the Jewish Book Council:
In this fascinating book Adam D. Mendelsohn paints a vivid picture of how “rag picking” in nineteenth-century England and the United States served as the springboard for Jews to enter the middle and upper classes. Dealing in secondhand clothes provided a perfect Jewish “ethnic niche.” It was an aspect of the garment industry that provided few occupational barriers. Little cash was needed to open a stall or store, and none for scouring the street. The stigma of the work made it unappealing and reduced the number of competitors. Itinerant collectors bought, begged, and bartered to get clothing which in turn was cleaned, repaired, and sold or repurposed into totally new items such as bonnets, cloaks, and aprons.