Jews, Arabic-Speaking - Economy

By the nineteenth century, most Jews, even those who lived in rural areas, were working as artisans and traders, although some village Jews may still have been full-time cultivators. Many Jews were itinerant peddlers and artisans who traveled from the cities to rural areas.

Trade. In urban areas, the locale of trade was primarily the market area, in which different crafts and specialities had their own streets and alleys. Foreign goods were generally given to peddlers and retailers on consignment by large wholesalers. In rural areas, Jewish peddlers would sell to Gentile cultivators on credit and receive payment either in kind or in cash at harvesttime.

Division of Labor. Almost all extradomestic tasks, including the marketing of goods, were done by men, at least in middle-income families. Poor women did work for wages, particularly by sewing and performing domestic labor. The Jewish women who worked as dancers in Damascus were drawn from the poorer classes. Some female teachers from Europe and Palestine taught in the more "modern" schools. In Egypt, with its large cosmopolitan population, some women were included in the professions.

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