How Do You Say ‘Charge It’ in Yiddish?

By Beth Schwartzapfel

Published April 22, 2009, issue of May 01, 2009.
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Chalk it up to the recession; it’s making all of us behave in unexpected ways. The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, a not-for-profit organization founded a century ago by socialist, Yiddish-speaking immigrants, recently launched its own credit card. With the organization’s logo in the upper-left corner, the Visa Platinum card offers new users the standard 0% annual percentage rate for the first six months. The Workmen’s Circle gets $50 whenever someone signs up and makes his first purchase, and then 0.3% of whatever the cardholder spends after that. “It’s such an easy way to share with the Workmen’s Circle/Arbiter Ring and continue our mission of progressive and cultural Jewish identity building,” the Workmen’s Circle’s executive director, Ann Toback, told The Shmooze. “I thought it was a win-win all around.”

The cards are issued by UMB Financial Corporation and marketed by the online company CardPartner, which helps small organizations and not-for-profits create customized credit cards.

What would the labor union-organizing generation that founded the Workmen’s Circle think about this new nod to consumerism? “Times have changed,” Toback said, “and the organization is changing with the times.”


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