This message was printed in the January edition of Temple Beth Tikvah’s Kol Tikvah.

We don’t consider manual work as a curse, or a bitter necessity, not even as a means of making a living. We consider it as a high human function, as the basis of human life, the most dignified thing in the life of the human being, and which out to be free, creative. Men ought to be proud of it.

David Ben Gurion to the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
March 19, 1946

 One of the things that I have found most gratifying as a rabbi is to make Torah work in our every day lives. Maimonides, one of Jewish history’s greatest scholars and thinkers, developed a Ladder of Tzedakah. The bottom rung of the ladder is described as a situation where tzedakah is given reluctantly. The highest rung is when our actions will help another facing great financial distress secure assistance (even as a loan) to become self-sufficient.  It fulfills the commandment from Leviticus: “Strengthen him [the poor person] so that he does not fall [as distinct from the one who has already become poor] and become dependent on others” (25:35).

Times are still tough out there. That is not new Torah for anyone reading this article. But there is something we can do for others facing hard times in our community. Fulfill the mitzvah of helping to keep a person up, before they fall, through job and business networking.

If we believe in the power of community and the ideal that all of Israel is responsible for one another, then…I beg of you, let us take a little bit of time to help others in our community find a job, secure a better job, or enter into a partnership or collaboration to enrich their business opportunities.  Here is what you can do to help fulfill Maimonides’ vision:

1)      Come to our own Business to Business Networking Group. It meets on the first Thursday morning of every month (with few exceptions due to holy days). It is chaired by two amazing people who took on the challenge of bringing people together for mutual benefit over two years ago: Bart Segal and Wendy Klein. It provides a time for some networking and the group participates in a presentation on some aspect of leadership. Many of our very talented congregants have been guest speakers on such topics as marketing, leadership, insurance issues, social media, and much more. Perhaps you feel like you will not benefit from this experience.  That might be true. But you might be able to assist someone else make an important connection to a colleague, and you might find a worthwhile connection, too. You can get more info by joining Temple Beth Tikvah’s “group” on LinkedIn.com or by contacting Wendy at wendy.klein.hr@gmail.com or Bart at bsegal@trimedsolutions.net. All are welcome (and bring plenty of business cards).

2)      If you are looking for a new employee for your business or in your company, call our friends at Jewish Family & Career Services. Their Career Services Department has helped countless people in Atlanta’s Jewish community find jobs. Our own Wendy Siegel has recently joined their staff as a Job Developer, finding ways to connect people to meaningful work. JF&CS’ Employer Services prescreens job-ready applicants through experienced placement and career counseling professionals. This department has a large amount of applicants, but they always need potential employers. Helping others in our community find meaningful employment is a true act of chesed – kindness and loyalty. For more information on placement services for prospective employees and employers, go to https://yourtoolsforliving.org/services/careers.

3)      As I mentioned, TBT has its own group on www.LinkedIn.com. I have many congregants, as well as others in Atlanta, in my own personal network to help make connections for you. If I can be helpful, do not hesitate to use me for an “introduction” to a potential employer or client. I can’t guarantee it would work, but I welcome the opportunity to help our congregants support themselves and their families.

I believe an authentic Jewish orientation takes our spiritual energy and translates it into the world in very practical ways. Prayer and faith compel me to act. Join me in making a difference in the lives of our fellow congregants.

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