Both Sides of the Barricades: Jews and Class Conflict during the Depression

Fred Rosenbaum

in Cosmopolitans

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780520259133
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945029 | DOI:
Both Sides of the Barricades: Jews and Class Conflict during the Depression

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The Depression hit the diverse Bay Area economy with less ferocity than it struck the cities of the East and Midwest, or even Southern California. In 1931, unemployment in San Francisco was 12.5%, compared with 15.3% nationwide and almost 17% in Los Angeles. Jews in the Bay Area were also less reliant on the hard-hit manufacturing sector than were their neighbors, and thus not as vulnerable to the steep economic decline. Nevertheless, thousands of Jews—professionals and small business owners as well as blue-collar workers—lost their jobs. Beyond the material hardships it caused, the Depression altered the political and cultural landscape of Northern California, affecting Jews along with every other group. Class conflict worsened, making San Francisco, already known for strife between labor and capital, perhaps the most polarized metropolis in the nation. For all the suffering and rancor of the 1930s, the decade nonetheless witnessed a strengthening of Jewish institutions such as Beth Sholom, Mount Zion Hospital, and the Jewish Community Center.

Keywords: Jews; class conflict; Depression; San Francisco; unemployment; Northern California; Beth Sholom; Mount Zion Hospital; Jewish Community Center

Chapter.  13723 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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