Thanks to the efforts of Rabbi Yehoshua Werde, and Crown Heights Young Entrepreneurs Council (CHYE), numerous men and women in the Crown Heights Jewish community have been making valuable connections, finding parnasa, and getting the tools they need to succeed in the business world while remaining true to their roots.
In only the past three months, CHYE held three major networking events that were open to the public and received a major turnout. Each event was devoted to a different industry and featured guest speakers as well as round-table Question-and-Answer sessions with experts and leaders in their respective fields.
In December, 2016 CHYE hosted “Finding Success in Real Esate,” a networking event held at Agudath Israel Bais Binyomin in Flatbush designed to help people learn more about the field and connect with local real estate moguls.
A stirring keynote address delivered by Ira Zlotowitz, president and CEO of Eastern Union Commercial Real Estate Funding was followed by round-table Q&As with experienced real estate experts and networking.
Attendee, Laibel G. from Crown Heights, who described himself as a real estate novice curious about transitioning into the field said: "I learned that there are a lot of opportunities in different areas of real estate. Now, I just need to find what speaks to my personality and what I can put my all into."
"You can never meet too many people in your business,” said Melody Zelouf, a real estate agent (Prime NYC), who came all the way from Great Neck, Long Island to attend. “It’s always good be in the public eye when working in real estate. As a sales agent, I like to meet investors so that they'll remember me for future projects. I also came here to learn about different aspects of the real estate game.”
eCommerce has become an increasingly popular occupation in the frum community over the past ten years. To succeed in ecommerce, it’s not necessary to have a college degree or much secular education. Rather, all that is required is hard work, an openness to learning new things, and a keen sense for finding niche market opportunities.
Held in February at The Palace, a spacious and elegant venue on McDonald Avenue in Borough Park, “Finding Success in eCommerce” received an unprecedented 500-person turnout.
At the start of the event, CHYE hosted its first-ever eCommerce seminars, followed by a lavish buffet dinner and a keynote address from Motty Gross, CEO of AJ Madison entitled: “How to Transform Your Business into an eCommerce Powerhouse.”
Shaya Katz from Crown Heights has never worked in eCommerce, but he saw this event as an opportunity to learn more about it. “I came here to educate myself and see what kind of opportunities there are for me in eCommerce,” he said. “Tonight I realized that many of my friends are in [eCommerce] and I learned a lot about the industry.”
“The event was amazing!” declared Yossi K, an Amazon seller from Crown Heights. “Even more than the speeches and the panel, the most valuable part about it was the networking. Meeting other people and seeing how we can help one another was really great.”
There’s no doubt this event was the beginning of many new professional careers and business relationships in the frum community.
Tech is another increasingly popular field in the frum world. Recent yeshiva and seminary graduates are applying themselves to coding bootcamp courses in record numbers. Many of them go on to land jobs in the tech sector or build their own apps.
Held in the United Lubavitch Yeshiva in Crown Heights, attendees had the opportunity to network with other people in the community and ask questions of experts in the field. Participants not only benefited from the round-table Q&As, but from meeting others in the community and initiating relationships that could lead to job offers, new business, and funding.
Yossi Horowitz of Crown Heights said he came to the event to network and get in touch with the local tech community. “I’m still in boot camp,” he explained. “It was great to network with people right here in my own backyard. I see this event as an opportunity to make partnerships, ingratiate myself into the local tech ecosystem, and possibly get offered a job."
“It’s nice to network within the local tech community as opposed to just the general one in New York City,” explained Mendel Blesofsky from Crown Heights. “It was nice to get together with people in the community to share ideas and connect. Here you don’t feel out of place the way you might feel at other networking events. This was kind of like one big farbrengen! I think it’s inspiring to benefit from the local community as well as contribute to it. Many of us are coming from a place of having a shared experience going through the yeshiva system and then into tech so it’s easy to relate to one another and do business together."
Mendy Margolin fielded questions from participants during the round-table Q&A. Emphasizing that a frum Jew does not have to compromise one iota of Yiddishkeit to succeed in the business world, Margolin said: “After 30 years working for Wall Street banks, I can promise you that you will never have to compromise anything in Yiddishkeit chassidishkeit or even in your Chabad identity.
“None of the things people worry about --- beards, yarmulkes etc. stood in my way. None of these things are obstacles to success. When you’re in the business world, you are on shlichus in a way and people respect you even more when they see that you respect yourself and stay true to who you are.”
There’s probably no way to thoroughly measure the full impact of CHYE’s activities on the Chabad community in Crown Heights and beyond, but there’s not doubt that people in the community now have more resources than ever before to succeed and support their families.