New Lakewood Bank Becomes First Ever to Have Heter Iska On All Transactions

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first-commerce-bankYesterday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the corner of River Avenue and John Street in honor of the opening of a new First Commerce Bank branch. Mr. C. Herbert Schneider, president and CEO of First Commerce Bank; Mr. Abraham Opatut, chairman of the board; and the bank board members, including Reb Avraham Penzer, Esq., and Reb Gershon Biegeliesen, CPA, were joined by friends and local officials at the event.

The Lakewood branch of First Commerce Bank has been recognized for its arrangements to adhere strictly to halacha in all its transactions. The bank board members spent significant time with Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and other poskim to work out the details. First Commerce has inserted a heter iska into the charter of the bank and in the applications with state regulators and the FDIC, becoming the only bank that has done so to date. In addition, the bank will be closed on Shabbos and Yom Tov. The bank’s corporate offices are located at the new River Avenue branch.

Prior to the beank’s groundbreaking a year and a half ago, the board members received brachos from Rav Elyashiv and Rav Chaim Kanievsky to see hatzlacha in the establishment of this bank, and the Skulener Rebbe offered a personal bracha as well.

Interestingly, the clock hands on the clock of the bank’s logo are at 6:13, reflecting the synergy between halacha and business at the new bank.

At the ceremony, Lakewood Mayor R’ Menashe Miller and Deputy Mayor Steven Langert joined in cutting a ribbon made out of dollar bills.

{Yossi Newscenter}


  1. Not the first a shomer shabbos bank in Monsey instituted heter iska several years ago. Unfortunately the bank fell on bad times and had to close.

  2. Burbank National Bank in LA had one also. I do not know if it was in the charter but it was prominently displayed in the bank.

  3. This is an old Heter (and not fully accepted – consult your Rov)which originated in Europe before the war, and is discussed in Artscroll’s book on Ribbis. It is used in various banks across the country which are owned by Jews, as well as Bank Leumi in Israel, but is not well publicized. Note in order for a Heter Iska to work, many Poskim maintain it is necessary to understand the mechanics behind it (cf Artscroll’s book for more info)

  4. What is the overriding reason to get into complicated shailos and halachos, which very few people – even Bnei Torah – fully understand?

    How many people using the heter iska even knows what it says or means – i.e. that their money can not be guaranteed like a ‘normal’ bank transaction? It is certainly NOT a blanket dispensation for Issur Ribbis(see sefer Bris Yehudah, for a detailed discussion on the issues involved)

    A nochri-owned bank seems to avoid this whole landmine.

  5. The headline to this story – “New Lakewood Bank Becomes First Ever to Have Heter Iska On All Transactions” – is erroneous and misleading.

    All banks in Israel have operated under ‘heter iska’ conditions since the early 20th century.

    The use of the word “ever” in this story is therefore erroneous and misleading.

  6. The Berkshire Bank, with branches in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Orange County and New Jersey, has had a heter iska since it’s inception, over 20 years ago.

  7. How can any Jew use any Jewish owned bank?

    And how can any Jewish owned bank accept Jewish customers?

    Especially the ones without the heter.

  8. Again FIRST ONE WITH HI BUILT INTO THE CHARTER… HI APPROVED BY R”E why the same question over and over when the answer is in the article.

  9. A heter iska can not work bc there is no way FDIC will cover a bank that would allow customer if he wanted to to technically make a shevua and not pay the loan. Which he could easily do and the namk would be on the hook. If borrower really lost money and besi din beleives that he did lose it then the lender would notb be able to collect. There are numerous din tora going on now with these situations and according to rav of bais din maysharim a lot of lenders will lose their cases.


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