Judaism and the meltdown

Rabbis are a great resource during this economic crisis, providing both support and networking oppor

In any period of difficulty, it is essential that communities pull together to share their expertise to support those in need. During this period of economic uncertainty, it is certain that there will be no sector, faith, nor community that will be unaffected by redundancy and financial turmoil. It is clear that the leaders of those communities will be looked to for guidance during such a testing period.

I was therefore delighted to speak last week at a seminar, convened by the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, for the communal rabbi’s of the various synagogal bodies across the UK. Featuring industry leaders and communal organisations, the seminar provided the rabbis with an overview of the current economic crisis, the impact it might have on the Jewish community, as well as the resources available to assist those affected.

The common view of those in attendance was that whilst not expected to be business experts, rabbis are, like their counterparts from other religions, often the first point of contact for congregants struggling during testing times. In addition, faith leaders can be a great focal point for networking opportunities within a community. Rabbi’s, with an in-depth knowledge of their congregants skills and expertise, are often able to create positive and beneficent synergies.

By creating positive and mutually supportive relationships it is always possible to develop business contacts, find employment for those made redundant and provide advice in setting up a new business. It can be beneficial in the long-term too – the person you are helping today may have the expertise you need help with tomorrow.

Jewish text tells us that the highest form of charity – as discussed at length by Maimonides, the great twelfth-century philosopher and expert in Jewish law – is to find someone a job, thereby putting him in a situation where he can dispense with other people’s aid.

At TrainE we work within the Jewish community to empower people to make a strong and sustainable income by offering training and business development options. By offering nationally accredited training courses, a pioneering mentoring scheme and a business incubator supporting entrepreneurial business enterprise, we are supporting those in generating long term and sustainable incomes.

During any economic crisis, the job market is demanding and making career choices is all the more challenging. The tools to make an informed choice may give the added edge needed to make the right decision. We aim to do just that and our training courses together with extensive support network are a perfect way to gain the qualification that can help people stand out from the crowd and find a perfect vocation.

The attendance of so many rabbis at this seminar, and their willingness to engage with these issues should serve as an inspiration to others to think, not only about how to survive the economic downturn, but how to support others through it too. We can certainly draw inspiration from the ancient proverb of first-century Jewish scholar and theologian Rabbi Hillel “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I?”

Shraga Zaltzman is the Managing Director of TrainE, a non-profit Jewish community organisation dedicated to empower individuals to make a strong and sustainable income. He studied at Gateshead Talmudic College and at the Mir Talmudic College in Jerusalem. He holds a BA in Technology, Marketing and Management from the Jerusalem College of Technology and an MBA from Bar Ilan.