Friday, February 17, 2023

Jewish Dynasties: A Free Virtual Series





Jewish Dynasties

For New York Jews, the names Lehman, Goldman, Loeb, Sachs and Guggenheim conjure up American Jewish royalty — German immigrants who clawed their way out of tenements into Park Avenue mansions.

But theirs are not the stories of all Jewish dynasties. Join us to learn about the other crowd!

Each program is at 6:30 PM and is FREE or $18 for a copy of the book.





The Sassoons


The Morgenthaus


The Safras




In-Person & Virtual Event

Tuesday, March 14





In-Person & Virtual Event

Tuesday, March 21




In-Person & Virtual Event

Tuesday, March 28































The Rothschilds of the East

With Historian
Dr. Joseph Sassoon




Power, Privilege and the Rise of a New York Dynasty

With Andrew Meier




A Banker's Journey from Aleppo

With Daniel Gross





When Henry Lehman was still a boy helping his dad trade cattle in a small German town, Sassoon ben Salih had already taken over from his father as Baghdad’s Sarraf Bashi, the Iraqi Pasha’s chief banker.

By the time Marcus Goldman had left behind his one-room shop in Philadelphia to trade IOUs as Marcus Goldman & Co, Sassoon ben Salih’s grandson Elias was trading in dried fruit, tea, metals, silk and spices from offices in Bombay and Shanghai, and had a monopoly over the opium trade. And Carl Morris Loeb was working as the manager of a St. Louis movie theater in an era when the Sassoons had firmly established themselves as one of the wealthiest families in the world, called “the Rothschilds of the East.”

The Sassoons were international Jewish royalty who gave the world the first global female CEO; supported over half of Bombay’s households; reshaped the skyline of Shanghai; and built dozens of synagogues and other Jewish institutions.

In his Global Merchants, historian Dr. Joseph Sassoon limns the tale of this extraordinary family, whose influence reached across three continents and changed the destinies of nations. He joins us to discuss their reach, from Baghdad to London; their ownership of Britain’s leading newspapers; their alliance with the Rothschild family; and their place in global Jewish history.

Dr. Joseph Sassoon is Professor of History and Politics at Georgetown University, a Senior Associate Member at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Trustee of the Bodleian Library. A specialist in modern Middle Eastern history, he was born in Baghdad and left with his family only after the hanging of Jews in the city in 1969.




An outlier among the German Jewish immigrants of New York, the Morgenthau patriarch, Lazarus, didn’t escape poverty for vague dreams of riches in the New World. He arrived intent on rebuilding the fortune he’d made — and lost — manufacturing cigars and cigar boxes in Germany when the US banned the export of tobacco during the Civil War.

Part entrepreneur, part confidence man, he failed miserably — his last attempt, shut down by the police: a townhouse dressed up as a wedding hall for orphans for whom he ostensibly solicited dowries.

The next generations of Morgenthaus not only made money but history — and the story of how and what they did is the basis of Andrew Meier’s extraordinary new volume, Morgenthau, tracing the journey of three generations following Lazarus: the accomplishment of son Henry, who amassed the family fortune by becoming one of New York’s real estate barons before being appointed US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire; his son Henry, confidant of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, US treasury secretary and dogged antagonist of those intent on keeping Jewish refugees from American shores during World War II; and Robert, the longest-serving district attorney in the history of the state of New York.

Meier joins us to discuss the Morgenthau dynasty, from Lazarus’s relationship to Temple Emanu-El, to Henry’s hesitation to accept the “Jewish” ambassadorship to the Ottoman Empire and to Robert’s prosecution of John Lennon’s killer, Mark David Chapman; the Preppy Killer, Robert Chambers; and rapper Tupac Shakur. In what has been called “his finest hour,” he acted to vindicate the five men convicted of attacking the Central Park Jogger.

Journalist Andrew Meier is the author of three previous books and a regular contributor to national and international publications. A commentator on the BBC, CNN and NPR, he has reported for PBS television documentaries and codirected the Netflix documentary Our Godfather.




At the age of 15, Edmond J. Safra was sent by his father to Milan to buy gold. When he was just 24, he founded the Trade Development Bank in Geneva and swiftly quintupled its assets. And by the time he turned 25, he’d established Republic National Bank of New York, which in less than a decade held the third-largest share of branch operations in the New York metropolitan area, right behind Citigroup and Chase Manhattan.

Yet even as he became the greatest banker of his generation, with an empire reaching across Europe, the US, Brazil, the Far East and Israel, Safra never gave up his Lebanese citizenship, ownership of the bank his father founded in Beirut in 1920 or his commitment to the Jewish community.

In his new book, A Banker’s Journey, Daniel Gross explores the quintessential Sephardic story of an extremely private man who never cut himself off from his roots, donned tefillin daily, encouraged employees at all his banks to accept requests from Jewish institutions and championed Sephardic communities across the world. The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Cultural Center is proud to welcome Gross to discuss the often-ignored dynasty Edmond Safra was part of, how he navigated his commitment to Israel even as he did business in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and the mark he left on the world Jewish community.

A writer covering finance, economics and business history, Daniel Gross has reported from more than thirty countries for The New Republic, Bloomberg News, Slate and Newsweek. The great-grandson of Jews from Aleppo and Damascus, he is the bestselling author of eight books.




We are happy to offer this and many more events free of charge and hope you enjoy them. Any contribution to support our efforts is appreciated.