Changing The Perception of Jewish Jobs

There are a number of jobs often associated with Jewish people in wider society. From being accountants, lawyers or doctors – or anything that gives their Jewish mother bragging rights, these are the most common Jewish jobs.

But it is not until you look at the history of the Jewish people do you realize how this came about and how being a forensic accountant or orthodontist is far from being a Jewish stereotype, especially when we look at today’s surge of entrepreneurs.

We speak to Daniel Tannenbaum, a young entrepreneur based in England, who is the founder of finance startup,, to find out more.

Historical Jobs

“Historically,” he explains, “Jews had certain skills and trades and if you are looking from 0 BC to the year 2000, you are looking at jewelry, carpentry and even money lending as the most common jobs for Jews.”

“Due to persecution, Jews were often on the move and they typically needed jobs where they could move around easily and ply their trade elsewhere. Being a shoemaker, butcher, farmer or builder were not uncommon, although today these would seem very ‘un-Jewish.’”

“There was also a trend to follow in the family business or work closely with siblings and cousins and a perfect example of this is how the jewelry and diamond industry became strongly represented by Jews in Holland and now extends to other parts of Europe and the world.”

Post World War II

“Following the huge decimation of Jewish life following the Shoah, post-1945 was very much a rebuilding time for Jews and their careers,” Tannenbaum continues.

“Many survivors started new lives in countries that were foreign to them. For those arriving in England, working in clothing ‘or schmutter,’ running shops, delis, hairdressers or grocers were popular professions, especially in London’s East End.”

“That particular generation toiled over long hours and repetitive tasks to provide for their children, where education was first prize – and hence a huge wave of Jewish doctors, accountants and lawyers emerged in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s to help the Jewish community regain a middle class status.”

“A number of successful investment banks emerged, notably because Jews may have been restricted from using their services in the US and Europe. But today some of the most well-known investment banks trace their roots to Jewish founders.”

Fast Forward To 2023

“Today, I feel that the tide is changing,” Tannenbaum claims.

“Our parents and grandparents worked hard to put us through school and give us a good education, but with Jewish families feeling more comfortable financially and politically, this generation is using the safety cushion that they have to pursue more daring, creative and high risk/huge reward opportunities.”

“This includes a wave of Jewish entrepreneurs emerging from the US, England and of course, Israel, the startup nation. 

“From Facebook, Google, Starbucks, Waze and online gaming – the impact on the startup landscape is clear.”

“The Jewish homeland has numerous socio-economic reasons that have created a massive startup culture. From high income taxes that make medicine and law unattractive and the huge technology focus surrounding the army – pushes the brightest minds into startup and tech.”

“Jews are prominent in property, again, reflecting a dark history and a desire to put down roots and create long term stability for future generations.”

“There are also more Jews thriving in the arts, such as cinema, theatre and television, instead of those that might have taken a more financial or medical route.”

“The number of opportunities for Jewish people has certainly increased and new role models are giving hope to the new generations for all kinds of industries.”

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