The Bank of United States. No, not Bank of America. No, also not Alexander Hamilton’s First or Second Bank of the United States for our AP American History scholars. The grammatically problematic but very real The Bank of United States got its start in 1913 and failed spectacularly 18 years later ushering in a series of bank runs the precipitated the Great Depression.
As finance and a synagogue newsletter go hand in hand (cue the unpaid advert for JCC Member Lloyd Danon’s Argentum Wealth), the epic of the The Bank of United States is just as much Jewish history as economic. Founded by scrappy Eastern European refugees Saul Singer and Joseph Marcus instead of bourgeois ‘Our Crowd’ Upper East Side Teutonian Jews like Jacob Schiff and Paul Warburg, The Bank of United States sought to bring new immigrants landing on Ellis Island into the banking system at a time when more established firms, including Jewish ones, thumbed their noses at these new arrivals. Offering credit, uncollateralized loans and other financial services unavailable elsewhere, these immigrants flocked to The Bank of United States, tragically assuming the bank’s name implied some sort of governmental guarantee or affiliation.
All seemed well as the bank expanded from four branches to 57 at breakneck speed, peaking at $268mn (~$5bn today) in assets under management. The music stopped when the owner of a small candy store in the Bronx requested the bank repurchase shares he owned. The manager refused to redeem the certificates all the while offering new stock in the bank as a shrewd investment. That presumably furious businessman, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli, spread a rumor of insolvency, triggering a bank run that collapsed the institution in days.
Subsequent loss of confidence in the banking system led to the creation of the same FDIC that bailed out depositors at Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank this past week. The New York Fed, led by J.P. Morgan Jr., refused to step in not wanting to rescue a bank run by ‘those Jews’ that ‘catered to immigrants’. Regarding the episode, famed Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman wrote in 1974 that more than any underlying financial risk, anti-Semitism played the largest role in ushering in financial collapse for the country.
Friday, March 17th
Dinner with reservation: 7:00pm
Shabbat haChodesh Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei
Kiddush Sponsored by the Bleiweis-Fischer Family in honor of Dr. Nathan Fischer’s first visit to Japan
Saturday, March 18th
Friday, March 24th
Dinner with reservation: 7:00pm
Shabbat Parshat Vayikra
Kiddush Sponsored by the Greenfield-Ichikawa Family in honor of Rina’s Tokyo Bat Mitzvah
Saturday, March 25th
Passover Day 1
Thursday, April 6th
Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach
Saturday, April 8th
Shabbat Parshat Shmini
Anniversary of Amos Sitbon’s Bar Mitzvah
Saturday, April 15th
Yom HaShoah Commemoration
Remarks by Israeli Ambassador Gilad Cohen
Monday, April 17th 7:00pm at the JCC
If you have an idea for an event or a topic you would like to share with others, please visit our website.
Our Passover website is UP! Looking forward to seeing everyone at our first seders with tourists in nearly four years. Enjoy this throwback video to somebody who surreptitiously filmed a seder in the old JCC at least 15 years ago.
Mazal Tov to the Sakurai Family on the birth of baby girl Leah.
Condolences to the Greenberg Family on the loss of Larry’s mom Gloria. May the family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Mazal Tov to Jamie Lee Curtis and Brendan Fraser on their Oscar wins. Curtis’s Hungarian-Jewish heritage inspired her to contribute to the rebuilding of Budapest’s Dohany Street Synagogue, the largest in Europe. Fraser, although not of Jewish descent, nevertheless captivated our people with his portrayal of David Greene in 1992’s School Ties about a Jewish student who faces discrimination in a WASPy Boarding School, a topic that hits close to home for many in the JCC. Tough luck to Señor Spielbergo, Tony Kushner, Judd Hirsch and the cast of the Fabelmans on coming up empty.
Yiddish Club with Jack Halpern: Monthly meetings have been taking place for quite some time in-person at the JCJ. Please contact Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced. Much more than just language, the club enjoys exploring Yiddish culture as well.
Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei
Candle Lighting: 5:25pm