Kupiskio Zydu Liaudies Bankas / Kupischker Judische Volks-Bank

The town of Kupiskis had one of the branches of the Jewish banks which appeared in many of the shtetlach throughout Lithuania in the 1920's.  It was known as the Kupischker Judische Volks-Bank or the Kupiskio Zydu Liaudies Bankas, was located at Turgaus gatve 16, and had Telephone #3.  While not a huge concern, it did support several employees and had quite a number of customers/members.  It provided a personalized range of financial services not always available to Jewish customers of sometimes limited means through other larger Lithuanian commercial banks or the Lithuanian Postal Savings Banks.

The bank was run by a Director and Assistant Director with a staff of bookkeepers and clerks.  Among those employees known to worked in the bank during the 1920's were Leib Furmanovsky, Director, Shmuel-Faivish Musikantas, Assistant Director, Israel Trapido, bookkeeper,  and Cipe Trapido Jachilevich, who worked in various capacities, as well as a number of others.


Employees in the Jewish Bank (Cipe Trapido Jachilevich is the seated woman, third from left)



(Photo taken by Israel Trapido in 1939)

Employees of the bank often took other jobs, especially when they immigrated.  Such was the case of Israel Trapido, who went to South Africa.  The following letter written in 1925 was obtained by him as a letter of reference from his employer.  It is contributed by his daugher Fay Trapido Morris.  The letter may be the only document that has survived from any of the Zydu Liaudies Bankas in Lithuania as all of these records seem to have disappeared completely.

Click on letter for larger version

The bank operated quite well and within legal limits until 1931 when it gained some notoriety when it was determined that the Bank Director had robbed the bank.  This occurrance is noted in an article in the Kovno (Kaunas) Yiddish newspaper "Funken" ("Ziezirbos" in Lithuanian, "Sparks" in English), No. 34, 1931, where it was stated that:

Thirty percent of the Jewish handicraft workers are suffering because of the Jewish Peoples Bank (Zydu liaudies bankas). The famous bad director, Furmanowsky, disappeared with big sums of money that Kupishok Jews had invested. At first, the Peoples Bank didn't press the members or investors and prolonged the payments. Now, the bank has taken action, and all the Jews have to replace the loss. A Jewish handicraft worker came to my room, crying bitter tears, and telling me "Mr. Correspondant, you understand what's going on? We have to pay every groshen (penny) to the Peoples Bank to cover for the sins of Furmanowsky, and my wife and children will suffer hunger and starve." There aren't any social organizations who could help.

Evidently, Furmanovsky robbed the bank and then disappeared.  Whilst parts of his family remained in Kupiskis and others left for South Africa, he was never found again.  The family retained the name of Furmanovsky, although many changed their name to Furman, Forman, and other variants.  One of the Furmanovsky family descendants was the late Lionel Forman, a well-known South African anti-apartheid activist.  Others in the family also became honorable members of the communities in which they lived and worked.

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