Banking and Philanthropy in Pre-State Jewish Palestine: Particularist Sephardic Philanthropy Disguised as Support for the General Zionist Cause

This article focuses on the historical case study of a privately owned bank, analyzing the bank owners’ contribution to the emergence of philanthropic discourse and practice in pre-state Jewish Palestine (1935s-1945s). The bank’s founder, a Jewish immigrant from Thessaloniki, drew on a long tradition of charitable giving. His philanthropic work targeted members of the local Sephardic community as its main beneficiaries, yet it was often carried out under the guise of general Zionist giving. Philanthropy with particular Sephardic goals was thus habitually construed as contributing to the general Zionist cause. The bank’s genuine commitment to the Sephardic community was not seen as antithetical, however, to business considerations, but rather as a way to advance the bank’s business interests by creating an ethnically-defined market.


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