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Jewish Dynasties: The Safras

Hosted By: Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center

A Banker’s Journey from Aleppo

At the age of 15, Edmond 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 U.S., 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 the new book, A Banker’s JourneyDaniel 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 RepublicBloomberg NewsSlate and Newsweek. The great grandson of Jews from Aleppo and Damascus, he is the bestselling author of eight books.

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