Bodies and Souls: The Tragic Plight of Three Jewish Women Forced into Prostitution in the Americas

Authors: Vincent, Isabel
Publisher: Random House of Canada
BISAC/Subject: HIS000000, BIO022000, BIO037000, SOC028000
ISBN: 9780307366153, Related ISBNs: 0307366154, 0679311629, 0679311637, 9780307366153, 9780679311621
Classification: Non-Fiction
Number of pages: 288,
Audience: General/trade
Synopsis: Isabel Vincent’s groundbreaking exploration brings to light a dark chapter in our recent history: the white slave trade and the international Jewish mobsters behind it.

From the end of the 1860s until the beginning of the Second World War, thousands of young, impoverished Jewish women, most of them from the hard-scrabble shtetls of Eastern Europe, were sold into slavery by a notorious gang of mobsters called the Zwi Migdal. While the enterprise controlled brothels in various locales, its main centres of operation were Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and, to a lesser extent, New York City.

To recruit vulnerable country girls, pimps would target villages of desperate poverty, where they posed as respectable suitors of considerable means who had made their money abroad. They would arrange sham marriages to their victims and promise them an easy life in the New World. But once they’d crossed the ocean, these Jewish women found themselves caught up in the white slave trade.

Under frequently brutal conditions, the young women had to service the needs of a booming population of immigrant men. An added hardship to endure was being vehemently shunned by the “respectable” Jewish community. Banned from synagogue and reviled by their neighbors, the women were forbidden from partaking in the sacred Jewish burial ritual. So prostitutes banded together to form the Society of Truth, with the promise to do all could they could to help each other be buried in dignity. Through the society the women observed religious life together, setting up private synagogues and kosher kitchens. Cast aside by their community, they created their own: a society of love, honour to God and faith in each other.

With the determination and skill of her training as an investigative journalist, Isabel Vincent tells an unforgettable and gripping tale of a shameful chapter in recent history.
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