According to Forbes in 2018, there were 10 Jews among the top 50 wealthiest people in America. Despite Jews making up less than 10 per cent of the U.S. population.
Why are there a lot of Jews so wealthy? Here’s why:
Jews have been associated with money lending for thousands of years. The most common explanation has been the exclusion of Jews in the Middle Ages from artisanal and mercantile work.
Additionally, Christian theology held that charging interest was sinful, which kept many Christians from becoming financiers. The field thus came to be dominated by Jews.
Christians regarded such occupations as incompatible with their religious principles. This fed the notion that Jews were morally deficient. They were willing to engage in unethical business practices that decent people had rejected.
From the fact of Jewish represented excessively in these occupations that Christians largely regarded as degenerate. This emerged a stereotype of the Jew as the embodiment of commercial greed and misery for the masses.
An alternative explanation holds that the Jewish liking for finance is a result not of exclusion. But the Jewish emphasis on learning and literacy.
Economists Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein contended that with the destruction of the ancient temples in Jerusalem. And the beginning of the Jewish Diaspora, Jewish continuity suddenly became dependent on widespread religious literacy. Those who educated themselves remained Jews, whereas those who did not assimilate converted to other faiths. Over time, the Jewish community evolved into a uniquely educated population, which in turn incentivized Jews to abandon farming in favor of better-paying professions and businesses.The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492,
As money-lending evolved into institutionalized banking, Jews continued to occupy major positions in the financial world. Across Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, Jews built a number of influential banks, further feeding anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
With mass Jewish immigration to the United States beginning in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Jews assumed prominent positions in the growing financial center of New York, establishing Salomon Brothers, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and others.