FROM WALL STREET TO JERUSALEM
The Story of
a Boy from
by Joshua M. Sklare
Despite a journey that took him from Wall Street to Jerusalem and many places in between, Ken Bialkin always thought of himself as “a boy from the Bronx,” knowing how much those early years had shaped his entire life and career. Nothing meant more to him than his family. He has left them a legacy to inspire and influence generations to come.
If the pace of deals Ken handled for Sandy Weill between 1968 and 1981 was dizzying, it seems hard to adequately describe what was accomplished between 1987 and 2001.
Ken’s journey from the Bronx to Wall Street had been a spectacular only in America kind of ride. Sandy Weill’s rise from Brooklyn to his perch on top of Wall Street was equally compelling. Sandy and Ken were a perfect duo in many respects. They got along well and became close friends, as did their wives, Joan and Ann. The couples celebrated many New Years together at the Weill’s Adirondack retreat, among many other shared experiences. The synthesis of business and socialization flowed easily.
Sandy and Ken’s relationship was a close one because they complimented each other. Their backgrounds were not dissimilar. Both had descended from Eastern European immigrants; each had grown up in the outer boroughs and made his way to the highest echelons of Wall Street. In many respects, their paths had similar trajectories. Their personalities worked well together. Sandy was brilliant at making deals, arguably the greatest Wall Street had ever seen. But like any dealmaker, he could be quick to act. Part of Ken’s job was to serve as a counterbalance. He was studied, looking at the downside and any problem that might result from a bad deal. Though passionate, Sandy placed a great deal of weight on Ken’s opinion and valued his counsel.