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The Schmooze

30 Days, 30 Texts: ‘The House of Rothschild’

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Dave Weinberg writes about “The House of Rothschild” by Niall Ferguson.

Five years ago, I spent a weekend perusing through my recently passed father’s library, an immense collection of historical treasures. With every passing year, I am constantly reminded and impressed by the detail at which he could recall dates, theories and placement of each book within our wall-to-wall, categorized library which my father grew over his entire life.

Among the dozens of books I chose that day was “The House of Rothschild” by Niall Ferguson, a two volume biography covering the now three century long historical entirety of the financially prophetic dynasty. Not exactly a quick or light read — yet the underlying themes and stories paint a truly remarkable story of Jewish leadership.

Once the wealthiest family in Europe, the Rothschilds were quintessential in the promotion of their fellow ghettoized brethren. Would it not have been for their unrelenting financial pressure laid upon monarchs and elected officials alike, the demonized Jews of Eastern Europe in the early 19th century would have remained in ghettos without rights to land, votes or privilege.

Unlike many Jewish families of the day, the Rothschilds never wavered from their observance or caved to the immense pressures of conversion. This continued tradition, as well as the balance of power within the business, was strengthened by legal will and business contract alike.

Today, with such a void in the pipeline of Jewish leadership, we must look towards successful models, both current and those of the past, in order to guarantee our continuity as a people. What best practices, examples of leadership, and tools can we use in building this pipeline of leadership?

Moral and religious fortitude are pinnacles of leadership we can learn from the Rothschilds. A lifelong, highly literate education, both in receiving and giving back, is something I hope to pass on to my son as a treasure from my father.

A serial social entrepreneur, Dave Weinberg is CEO of Causil which helps brands, organizations and individuals engage in the best practices of communications, marketing and technology. Dave started his career by founding Not Now Not Ever to end the genocide in Darfur, evolving into the Save Darfur Coalition, an organization with international exposure and impact. In response to the economic downturn, Weinberg created ParnasaFest, an international grassroots effort to connect employers with job seekers helping over six thousand people achieve success so far in their search. Under Dave’s leadership, Causil produces the Future of Jewish Nonprofit Summits for industry professionals. This one day summit pulls together the best speakers, ideas and companies in order to inspire movement, facilitate change and spark creativity. The New York Jewish Week responded: “be sure Dave is on your radar.” Often tapped for his opinion on technology, Dave was listed as one of the “Top 50 Influential Personalities Online” by the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA). Dave lives in Silver Spring, MD with his wife, Talya and son, Azi.

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