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The particular case of Dutch-Jewish emancipation demonstrates that changes in legal status did not of itself promote Jewish equality and the Jews’ acculturation to non-Jewish society, as the social and economic circumstances of the Jews could only improve as a result of economic opportunities and general social change. While the Jews’ social and cultural adaptation to non-Jewish society certainly played a role in the emancipation process, the abolition of discriminatory impediments and the provision of social, political, and economic opportunities were ultimately the salient factors in determining the successful outcome of Dutch Jewry’s emancipation. Although the majority of Amsterdam’s Jewish population were reluctant to leave their familiar communal existence and abandon Yiddish for Dutch as the language of everyday use, the continuing discrimination to which the poorer Jews were subjected during the first half of the nineteenth century was the principal factor in perpetuating the poverty of Amsterdam’s Ashkenazim. Social and economic prejudice exacerbated the predicament of the Jewish poor and made it difficult for the Jews to attain an improved status in society.
KeywordsLegal Status Jewish Community Economic Opportunity Dutch Society Social Disability
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