Tag Archives: Baron

Jews of the Week: Amschel, Salomon, and Kalman von Rothschild

In honour of Jew of the Week’s 7th birthday this November, we will feature a month-long series on the most famous (and sometimes infamous) Jewish family of all time: the Rothschilds. This is part two of five. Click here to see part one.

The eldest son of Mayer Rothschild was Amschel Rothschild (1773-1855). He continued his father’s business in Frankfurt, and was made a baron in 1817 (becoming “Von Rothschild”). He was the most religious of the brothers, and tremendously helped poor Eastern European Jews, who nicknamed him “the pious Rothschild”. Unfortunately, he died childless, so his Frankfurt branch was taken over by siblings and nephews. The branch was permanently shut down in 1901. Mayer’s second son was Salomon Rothschild (1774-1855), head of the Vienna branch. He played a huge role in Austria’s history, sparking its industrial revolution, igniting the Austrian economy, and financing massive public projects, including Austria’s first railway network. In honour of this, Emperor Francis made him a baron in 1822 (making him Salomon von Rothschild). Ironically, he was still not an Austrian citizen, which Jews were barred from! It was only twenty years later that he was officially made Austria’s first Jewish citizen, paving the way for equal rights for all Jews. Unfortunately, just a few years later, a wave of anti-Semitic riots broke out in Austria, with Rothschild being its main target. He had to hand over his bank, and fled to Paris. Many of the precious artworks that he collected he donated to the Louvre. The Vienna branch of the bank would ultimately be put to an end by the Nazis (having already suffered a devastating blow during the 1929 stock market crash). The Naples branch went under even earlier, during the Italian Reunification. It was founded by Kalman “Carl” Rothschild (1788-1855), the fourth son. He transformed his bank into the dominant financier in Italy, and was also made a baron. One of his clients was the Vatican Bank, and witnesses were shocked that Kalman never kissed the Pope’s feet, which everyone – even kings – had to do in those days when meeting the Pope. Kalman died in the same year as his oldest brothers, perhaps from grief after his wife and son tragically passed away as well. The remaining two sons, in London and Paris, would become the most influential Rothschilds by far, establishing institutions that continue to operate until this day. Their life and achievements will be explored next week.

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Words of the Week

The Rothschilds are the wonders of modern banking… we see the descendants of Judah, after a persecution of two thousand years, peering above kings, rising higher than emperors, and holding a whole continent in the hollow of their hands…
– Niles’ Weekly Register, Volume 49 (1836)

Rothschild Coat of Arms. Among the interesting symbols is a Star of David at the top left, and a hand holding five arrows, representing the five Rothschild sons, based on Psalm 127: “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” At the centre of the logo is a red shield (for “Rothschild”) with an image of the “Judenhut”, a hat that Jews were forced to wear in Europe to distinguish them from others.

Jew of the Week: Jonathan Sacks

The Rabbi Baron

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Jonathan Henry Sacks (b. 1948) was born in London, England, and studied at some of London’s finest schools, earning a Ph.D in philosophy in 1981. In the same year, he received his orthodox rabbinic ordination from Jew’s College, the world’s oldest rabbinic seminary. He went on to become principal of that seminary, while also serving as a community rabbi. In 1991 he was appointed as the British Commonwealth’s Chief Rabbi. He remained in this role for 22 years until retiring last September. Over the years, he taught as a visiting professor at several universities. He also authored 25 books, among them award-winning bestsellers. He was a popular guest on BBC Radio and TV programs, and wrote a regular column for The Times. Sacks holds 16 honourary degrees, together with a number of international awards for his work in promoting social justice and religious liberty, scholarly achievement, leadership, and inspiring Jewish life around the world. In 2009, he was introduced to England’s House of Lords, and was granted the title “Baron”. He was invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate as the representative of the Jewish community. The Prince of Wales described Sacks as a “light unto this nation… whose guidance on any given issue has never failed to be of practical value and deeply grounded in the kind of wisdom that is increasingly hard to come by.” Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described him as “…the greatest scholar I know, the greatest philosopher, the greatest writer I know, one of the greatest thinkers in the world…” Sacks continues to teach as a professor at New York University, Yeshiva University, and King’s College London. He is also a vegetarian.

Words of the Week

“A good leader creates followers; a great leader creates leaders.”

“To defend a country you need an army, but to defend a civilization you need education.”

“Technology gives us power, but it does not and cannot tell us how to use that power. Thanks to technology, we can instantly communicate across the world, but it still doesn’t help us know what to say.”

– Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks