Sunday, November 8, 2009

“The Jewish Phenomenon,” Economic Success and Fabulous Wealth

Two percent of the US population, about 6 million of America’s 300 million people, are Jewish (in the world of 6 billion people, there are only 13 million Jews, only one-fifth of 1%).

  • The banking Medici Dynasty was behind the Renaissance and they were Jewish. 400 hundred years later, the banking Rothschild Dynasty was founded by a German Jew. 
  • The American Rockefeller Dynasty was founded by a German Jew. 
  • Chicago School of Economics was founded by Austrian Jews. 
  • The banking powerhouse JP Morgan founded by a Jew. 
  • Various sources of influential ideas around the world were started and are run by Jews. 
  • Cecil John Rhodes and his close friend Alfred Beit were Jews. 
  • Anglo American Corporation was founded by Ernest Oppenheimer, a Jew. 
  • The powerful media houses (Economist magazine, Financial Times newspaper, Forbes magazine, Fortune magazine, New York Times newspaper, Washington Times newspaper, etc) around the world are owned by Jews.
  • Facebook was started and is owned by a Jew, Mark Zuckerberg (an almuni of "Alpha Epsilon Pi," a Jewish college fraternity and born to a dentist father and psychiatric mother who later became a business development manager of her husband); 
  • Google was started and is owned by Jews Sergey Brin of Russian origin (born to a mathematician father and economist mother) and Larry Page (born to a professor of computer science father and computer programming teacher); 
  • Andre Citroen, a French entrepreneur and pioneering car manufacturer; 
  • Larry King, former anchorman of CNN.  
Some more prominent are:
  • Roman Abramovich, a Russian Jew; 
  • George Soros, Wall Street investor and foreign currency speculator; 
  • Alan Greenspan, Chairman and president of Townsend-Greenspan, economic consulting firm; former Federal Reserve Chairman; 
  • Marcus Goldman, co-founder of Goldman Sachs investment bank; 
  • Samuel Sachs, co-founder of Goldman Sachs investment bank; 
  • Calvin Klein, Founder and CEO of Calvin Klein; 
  • Ralph Lauren, Founder of Polo Ralph Lauren; 
  • Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot, Inc; 
  • Howard Schultz, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks Coffee; 
  • Julius Rosenwald, President and Chairman of the Board of Sears; 
  • Herbert Allen, Jr., CEO of entertainment investment house Allen & Company; 
  • Edgar Bronfman Jr., CEO of Seagram, Viacom; 
  • Barry Diller, CEO of 20th Century Fox and QVC; 
  • Gerald Levin, Time Warner, CEO of HBO; Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney; 
  • David Geffen, co-founder of Dreamworks, CEO of Geffen Records; 
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founder of Dreamworks, Disney; 
  • Sumner Redstone, chairman of CBS and Viacom; 
  • Michael Ovitz, President of Disney, founder of CAA; 
  • Isaac Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel Entertainment;  
  • Steven Spielberg, co-founder of Dreamworks; 
  • Harry Cohn, founder of Columbia Pictures; 
  • William Fox, founder of Fox Film Corporation; 
  • Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Pictures; 
  • Louis B. Mayer, founder of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; 
  • Sidney Sheinberg, executive of MCA; 
  • Sam Warner, co-founder of Warner Brothers Studios; 
  • Lew Wasserman, founder of MCA; 
  • Harvey Weinstein, Co-founder of Miramax; 
  • Bob Weinstein, Co-founder of Miramax; 
  • Adolph Zukor, founder of Paramount Pictures; 
  • Leonard Goldenson, president of ABC; 
  • Les Moonves, CBS President; 
  •  William S. Paley, Founder And CEO of CBS; 
  • David Sarnoff, founder of NBC, general manager of RCA; 
  • Laurence Tisch, CEO of CBS; 
  • Jeff Zucker, NBC President; 
  • Adolph Ochs, executive of New York Times
  • Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., New York Times executive; 
  • Mortimer Zuckerman, publisher of U.S. News and World Report and New York Daily News
  • Katharine Graham of the Washington Post; 
  • Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft; 
  • Michael Dell, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Dell; 
  • Lawrence Ellison, Founder of Oracle Corporation. 
Jews are no different from anyone else with regards to being human beings and intelligence, yet:
  1. The percentage of Jewish households with income greater than US$50,000 is double that of non-Jews.
  2. The percentage of Jewish households with income less than US$20,000 is half that of non-Jews.
  3. The Jewish advantage in economic status is very high among households of similar age, composition and location.
  4. By the 1990s, Jews were hugely over-represented among the very wealthy, when they comprised more than a quarter of the people on the Forbes Magazine list of the richest four hundred Americans, 45% of the top 40 richest Americans, and one-third of all American multimillionaires
  5. 20% of professors at leading universities are Jewish.
  6. 40% of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington are Jewish!
  7. 30% of American Nobel prize winners in science and 25 percent of all American Nobel winners are Jewish. In the period 1901–1962 16% of Nobel prize-winners for science were Jewish.
  8. Jews constitute 2% of the USA population but are the source of over 40% of political funding. Therefore the Jewish political influence is through 3 activities - campaigning, voting and financial contributions.
  9. In many cases, Jews earned their American success in only one or two generations in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
  10. Jews enjoy 75% of the $50 billion worth of foods sold in the United States each year.
  11. In 1890, there were few Jews practicing in law or medicine in New York City. By 1900, there were 400-600 Jewish doctors in the city and several thousand in teaching and other professions.
  12. In the 1930s, 55% of doctors, 64% of dentists, and 65% of lawyers in New York City were Jewish. This was in spite of quotas restricting the admittance of Jews to institutions of higher learning.
  13. They estimated the world population of Jews in 1938 at 18 million and the world population of European non-Jewish whites at 718 million, and calculated that Jews were over-represented by a factor of approximately 6.6.
  14. Jews have been about half of the world’s top rated chess grandmasters between 1851 and 2000 (Rubinstein, 2004) and of the champion American bridge players and theoreticians (Storfer, 1990).
  15. In the 20th century, Jews have been greatly over-represented in a number of countries among intellectual elites and in the higher socio-economic status occupations. In Austria in the years between the two World Wars Jews were approximately 3.5% of the population but were 27.3% of university professors (Fraenkel, 1967). In Germany between 1918 and 1933, Jews were 0.78% of the population but were 16% of the doctors, 15% of the dentists, 25% of the lawyers, 50% of the theatre directors and occupied 80% of the leading positions in the Berlin stock ex- change (Gordon, 1984; Slezkine, 2004). In Poland in 1931, Jews were 10.2% of the population but were 56% of the doctors in private practice, 33% of the lawyers, and 24% of the pharmacists (Slezkine, 2004). In Russia during the period 1917–1939 Jews were approximately 1.8% of the population, while Jews were 9% of the ocers in military academies, 15% of the university graduates, 11% of the doctors and 14% of the university professors (Slezkine, 2004).
  16. In Britain, the numbers of Jews and non-Jewish whites possessing large wealth in the period from 1809– 1939 have been examined from probate returns on death by Rubinstein (2000). He has found 199 such individuals of whom 28 were Jews (14.1%). The average number of Jews in the population during this period was approximately 0.4%, so Jews were 28.4 times over-represented among the very wealthy. Prais and Schmool (1975) calculated that 10% of Jews and 4% of non-Jewish whites were in the higher professions in 1961, and hence Jews were over-represented by a factor of 2.5. In a later study, Tropp (1991) examined the numbers and proportions of Jews in eleven of the major professions around 1985. He found that the percentage of Jews ranged from 1.3% among chartered surveyors to 7.8 among opthalmic opticians. At this time there were approximately 322,000 Jews in the United Kingdom in the total population of 56,379,000 (the figure in the 1981 census). Thus, in 1985 Jews were approximately 0.6% of the population. Even among chartered surveyors Jews were over-represented by a factor of 2.2, while among opthalmic opticians Jews were over-represented by a factor of 13.0.
  17. As early as 1908 Jews began to outperform non-Jewish whites in the entrance tests for universities that were first constructed by the College Entrance Examination Board in 1899. Increasing numbers were gaining admission to the Ivy League colleges (eight private institutions of higher education often viewed by the public as some of the most prestigious universities worldwide and are often ranked amongst the best universities in the United States and worldwide comprising of  Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University). In 1908 the percentages of Jews in all colleges and at Harvard were 7% and 6%, respectively, and by 1919 this had increased to 20% of the students at Harvard and about the same figure at Yale, Brown and Pennsylvania, while at Columbia 40% of the students were Jewish (Slezkine, 2004).
  18. From 1957 through 1990 the average annual earnings of Jewish men were about 130% of those of non-Jewish whites (in 1990 $36,700 for Jews and $28,080 for non-Jewish whites) (Chiswick, 1985; Kosmin & Lachman, 1993, p. 260).
  19. It has been found that Jews are considerably over-represented among the eminent in the United States. Weyl (1966) calculated that Jews were over-represented by a factor of 4.48 in seven reference books of the eminent (e.g. Who’s Who in America, American Men and Women of Science, Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, etc.). In an updated analysis of Who’s Who in America for the years 1994–5, McDermott (2002) has calculated that Jews were over-represented by a factor of 16.62.
  20. According to a report by Will Maslow of the American Jewish Congress, “The percentage of Jews . . . who involve themselves in party affairs as policymakers and fund-raisers, is probably higher than that of any other racial, religious or ethnic group. The result is that Jews play a role in the political life of the country whose significance far transcends their proportion of the total population.”
  21. Jewish writer Lenni Brenner has noted the actual voting power of American Jews is nearly twice their numbers: “They vote in greater proportions than any other ethnic or religious grouping. Ninety-two percent of all Jews vote in national elections compared to only 54 percent of the people as a whole. Jews may only be 10.6 percent of New York State, but they are between 16 percent and 20 percent of the voters.”
  22. Up to 80% of eligible Jewish voters turned out to vote in the 2004 presidential election, compared to 50% of the electorate as a whole. In addition, registered Jews are twice as likely to vote. Combining the two multiplies Jewish voting power by a factor of three. Furthermore, 81 percent of Jews live in only nine states [New York, New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois] making them a significant political bloc, especially on the national level. In presidential elections, those nine states cast 202 of the 535 votes in the Electoral College. Thus, the Jewish population could provide a swing vote in any close presidential election.
What is the source of all this Jewish economic success and wealth?

The Jewish Perspective on Wealth
Steven Silbiger, The Jewish Phenomenon: Seven Keys to the Enduring Wealth of a People (2009)

Dr. Sowell discovered, "Even when neither education nor age is a factor, Jews earn more." Among families headed by males with four or more years of college and aged 35 to 45, Jews still earn 75% higher incomes than the national average with the same demographics. If it were as simple as just getting an education or developing verbal confidence, just two of the keys, Jewish success would have been emulated years ago.

One of Steven Silbiger's more compelling theses holds that the outsider mentality common to most Jews, as a minority, not only shapes independent thinkers, it also motivates people to prove themselves and gain acceptance. Fundamentally, according to Silbiger, Jews are rebels with a cause - whether it's Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity or Ruth Handler and her groundbreaking Barbie doll.

To support his point, Steven Silbiger quotes Sigmund Freud, who, in his "Self Portrait," wrote that the anti-Semitism he encountered in medical school "produced one important result. At a rather early date, I became aware of my destiny: to belong to the critical minority as opposed to the unquestioning majority. A certain independence of judgment was therefore developed."

Steven Silbiger contrasts the religious Jewish upbringing with the Christian religious upbringing, noting that in religious classes Jewish children are encouraged to ask questions. Christian children are given answers and are often discouraged from asking questions - often, to question is the near occasion of sin, an indication of lack of faith. This sets a vastly different foundation for the Jewish child versus the Christian child. Steven Silbiger theorizes that the Jewish child will carry this attitude of questioning on into the rest of his life, and this leads to a willingness to look at situations in new ways, to try new things, to be an entrepreneur. (Interestingly, Steven Silbiger claims that Jewish people, in defiance of the usual trend, typically become more liberal as their wealth increases.)

According to the New Testament, the Christian world has, at best, an ambivalent attitude toward money and wealth: "Easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24, Luke 18:25, Mark 10:25) "You cannot serve God and wealth." (Luke 16:13) "If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." (Timothy 6:8-9) "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." - (Timothy 6:10).

For Jews, on the other hand, wealth is a good thing, a worthy and respectable goal to strive toward. What's more, once you earn it, it is tragic to lose it. Judaism has never considered poverty a virtue. The first Jews were not poor. The Jewish founding fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were blessed with cattle and land in abundance. Asceticism and self-denial are not Jewish ideals. With your financial house in order, it is easier to pursue your spiritual life: "Where there is no flour, there is no Bible." The Mishna (a collection of books that outline the detailed laws for daily Jewish living) "Poverty causes transgression." (Hasidic folk saying) "Poverty in a man's house is worse than fifty plagues." (The Talmud, a collection of books of rabbinical commentary on the Old Testament).

A person with wealth, stands up. His wealth gives him a sense of confidence that allows him to act, a sense of self-worth that fills him with enthusiasm. He enjoys all that he is and all that he does. He feels important and this promotes his success. Thus his wealth is a key to prosperity - a key that opens the doors to his desires. 
  • "The ground under their feet (Devarim 11.6). This verse, taught R Elazar, refers to a person's wealth - it stands him on his feet. (Pesachim 119a)
  • Rav Shmuel bar Nachman said: When a man is wealthy, he shows his friend a happy face. (Breishis Raba 91.5)
  • Greater is the merit of ones own labors, than the merit of the forefathers. (Tanchuma, VaYeitzei 13)
  • Rebbi Chiya bar Abba said in the name of Ulla: Greater is one who enjoys the labor of his own hands, than one who regards Hashem with awe (Yiras Shamayim).
  • While he who regards Hashem with awe is fortunate in this world ... he who toils, enjoys this world, and also delights in the goodness of the world-to-come. (Brochos 8a)
  • Better is the person who lacks honor, but has a servant, than the refined man who has no bread. (Mishle 12.9)
  • A beautiful home expands a person's thoughts. (Brochos 57b) Beautiful garments enlarge a person's thoughts. (R Elazar)
  • The rich man's wealth is his fortress. (Mishle 10.15)
  • The rich man has many who love him. (Mishle 14.20)
  • Wealth adds many friends. (Mishle 19.4)
  • There is wealth to be had; there is money in the streets. However, a person needs to want this money, to look carefully for it, and gather it up. For the Heavens guide a person in the way he wishes to go (Makkos 10b). 
True, there are hardships he must endure; he must learn to toil; he must train himself to wait, patiently. Still, if he wants it, it is there. The question is though, should he want wealth?

The very survival of a Torah life-style depends on a financial backing. To raise whole families, a nation who lives with true values, all requires successful economics. Thus every aspect of the Torah depends on wealth. 
  • R Elazar ben Azarya would say: If there is no flour, there can be no Torah. (Avos 3.21)
  • Food leads to laughter, wine adds joy to life, and money solves all problems. (Koheles 10.19)
  • With the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread.” (Breishis 3.19)
  • Rebbi Avahu taught: While the upper ones, the angels and other celestial beings, are nourished by the sheen of Hashem; lower beings, those who live in this world, must toil – if they don’t, they don’t eat! (Breishis Raba 2.2)
  • To the man who says, “I will eat, drink and enjoy all that’s good without toiling, for I trust that Heaven will take mercy on me,” the Rabbis say, you are wrong!” The verse expressly states that, “You [Hashem] bless the deeds of his hands.” (Iyov 1.10)
  • A person needs first to labor and work with his two hands, only then does Hashem send His blessing. (Tanchuma, VeYeitzei 13)
  • Wealth that comes without toil, diminishes; but he who gathers in gradually, constantly, increases his wealth. (Mishle 13.11)
  • Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Today is for doing, tomorrow is not for doing ... Today is for doing, tomorrow is for receiving reward. (Eiruvim 22a)
  • Rava said: Invest a hundred zuz in business, and you eat meat and wine everyday; invest a hundred zuz in ground, and you eat salt and hay; moreover you sleep on the ground. (Yevamos 63a)
  • Rav Yitzchak said: A person should always have ready cash, [that when a bargain comes his way, he may buy it – Rashi]. (Baba Metzia 42a)
  • Rebbi Yehuda taught: Anyone who doesn’t teach his son a trade, teaches him to be a robber. (Kidushin 29a).
From the US survey known as the General Social Surveys (GSS) analysed for the years 1972–2004, cultural values of the respondents were measured by their responses to a question on the values parents would most like in their children. The survey gave 13 values and asks respondents to identify the one that they would most like their children to have, and also the three they would most like their children to have. These values are as follows: 
  1. Success: ‘‘that he tries hard to succeed”;
  2. Studiousness: ‘‘that he is a good student”;
  3. Amicability: ‘‘that he gets along well with other children”;
  4. Cleanliness: ‘‘that he is neat and clean”;
  5. Considerateness: ‘‘that he is considerate of others”;
  6. Control: ‘‘that he has self-control”;
  7. Honesty: ‘‘that he is honest”;
  8. Interest: ‘‘that he is interested in how and why things happen”;
  9.  Judgment: ‘‘that he has good sense and sound judgment”;
  10. Manners: ‘‘that he has good manners”;
  11. Obedience: ‘‘that he obeys his parents well”;
  12. Responsibility: ‘‘that he is responsible”
  13. Sex role: ‘‘that he acts like a boy (she acts like a girl)”.
Jews obtained a mean of 7.48, while non-Jewish whites obtained a mean of 6.21 and is equivalent to 9.06 IQ points. There were eight values in which Jews were significantly different from others. Jews attach less importance to cleanliness, honesty, manners and obedience, but they attach more importance to considerateness, interest in how and why things happen, judgment and responsibility.

Steven Silbiger claims that these principles can be learned by anyone, and thus his argument is that these traits are cultural and not genetic.

Seven Keys to Jewish Economic Success and Fabulous Wealth
By Steven Silbiger, The Jewish Phenomenon: Seven Keys to the Enduring Wealth of a People (2009)
  1. Understand That Real Wealth is Portable; It’s Knowledge - there has been research evidence showing that Jewish children have higher educational aspirations, do more homework and watch less TV than non-Jews. Jewish families will highly support intellectual pursuits and encourage their children to invest in schoolwork. Jews attach a lot of importance to study and education and this socializes the children for educational and academic success: ‘‘Jewish youth used to spend long years bent over their books in an attempt to break out of the narrow circle of restrictions” (Slezkine, 2004, p. 252). Jews ‘‘were highly motivated to create a new and more secure life for themselves” which gave them ‘‘the willingness to work hard” (Rutland, 1988, p. 259). The idea is built on the paradigm that 'getting an education requires the ability to defer gratification for a bigger payoff later'.
  2. Take Care of Your Own and They Will Take Care of You - to safeguard and enhance the health of their community, Jews zealously deploy their wealth for both charity and social  actions. They make money so hard, and they give so generously. In spite of the stereotype that they are miserly, Jews happen to be the most philanthropic ethnic group in the country. Total Jewish philanthropic giving totaled about $4.5 billion in 1997. Jewish Free Loan Societies help immigrants and other Jews in need. Apparently there are about 40 of these institutions around the country, and they make about $40 million in loans each year, interest free!
  3. Successful People Are Professional and Entrepreneurs - specialised people earn from their skills.
  4. Develop Your Verbal Confidence - assertiveness, a willingness to demand what is due, defy tradition, just to be able to have the balls to dare to be different. It is from the Hebrew word chutzpah ("gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible 'guts,' presumption plus arrogance"). Avoid self-pity, let your language prop you and feed your ears with strength from your mouths.
  5. Be Selectively Extravagant but Prudently Frugal - do not borrow not more than half what you earn. Spend what you can make, make more than you need to spend. To be rich, you need to save!
  6. Celebrate Individuality: Encourage Creativity - Jews resemble some Protestants in possessing ‘‘individualistic, competitive patterns of thought and action linked with the middle class and historically associated with the Protestant ethic or its secular counterpart, the spirit of capitalism”.
  7. Have Something To Prove: A Drive To Succeed - the mind is the most potent of drivers. Feed your mind with the positive psychological drive to succeed. Again define success in a global sense, to another is success to a second person your success is failure. Look outwards, it helps to reach out to see other strengths and role models. Then 'tune' your mind to conquer and deliberately design the success path!

By Steven Silbiger, The Jewish Phenomenon: Seven Keys to the Enduring Wealth of a People (2009)

1. Build a child’s self-esteem.
2. Build the ability to defer gratification.
3. Choose the best education possible.
4. Develop and demonstrate informed and literate habits (“Jews celebrate and promote books and reading like no other segment of society, accounting for between 50 and 75% non-institutional book sales in the USA”).
5. Create the education expectation.
6. Keep skills up-to-date even as an adult.
7. Have an educational incentive.
8. Believe that real wealth is portable; it’s knowledge (“The Jewish priorities consists of education, money and then material things. Money is the source of power and to acquire it without education will create a household with many thing, but with little security to maintain and support itself”).
9. Believe in being prudently frugal.

10.Have an economic incentive.
11. Wealth is a good thing and a worthy and respectable goal for which to strive (“Poverty causes transgression”).
12. Wealth is a tool for survival.

13. Have a strong, burning entrepreneurial spirit.
14. Believe financially successful people are professional and entrepreneurs.
15. Encourage Creativity (“Ignore killer phrases and senseless rules; challenge widely held assumptions; be a good copycat; keep current: know the trends; create an idea-friendly home”)

16. Have the ability to create, organize and utilize economic strength.
17. Firmly believe in “take care of your own and they will take care of you”.
18. The idea of individual empowerment should be deeply rooted in society.

19. Be psychologically driven to prove something: A Drive To Succeed (“Make long-range goals; work harder at tasks requiring mental manipulation; take prudent risks; work for tangible and intangible rewards; take personal responsibility for decisions and create results; accept other entrepreneurs as role models; believe in own self-determination”)
20. Develop Verbal Confidence and Boldness (“Encourage children to ask questions; proactively explain new ideas to children and encourage public speaking and confident conversation. As verbally confident people, Jews ask questions, seek second opinions and do their own research”)

21. Celebrate Your Individuality (“Be a member of a critical minority than a questioning majority”)
22. Be Selectively Extravagant


The Jewish Phenomenon: Seven Keys to the Enduring Wealth of a People by Steven Silbiger (2000),

How to explain high Jewish achievement: The role of intelligence and values by Richard Lynn and Satoshi Kanazawa (2007)

* The Jewish Secret of Wealth: According to the Torah, Talmud & Zohar by Avraham Tzvi Schwartz (2006);


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