Standing up to the Economic Downturn

By David Zagorski | Issue Date: February 2010

On behalf of the BJ Employment Task Force, I want to take this opportunity to update the community on our accomplishments. This important initiative is led by Harold Goldman and Guy Felixbrodt, along with several volunteers with backgrounds primarily in human resources and mental health, and is supported by the BJ Rabbis.

BJ website screenshotAbout a year ago, several of us volunteers contacted the BJ Rabbis independently to suggest that our synagogue take on the challenge of helping members of our community who were affected by the severe economic downturn, and to offer our assistance to this effort. My experience during my eight years as a member is that BJ takes decisive action on matters that directly and indirectly concern our community and the world. I was pleased that BJ responded swiftly, beginning by getting us all together to form an organized action plan.

For the first year, the goal was to help the unemployed and underemployed members of our synagogue. During this time BJ offered extensive and diverse resources spanning many different areas. Several formal presentations were given:

• Job Search Advantage Event, addressing valuable job-search skills including résumé-writing, image presentation, and changing careers

• Redirecting Yourself, a two-part series offered jointly with Kehilath Jeshurun, focused on strategies to help a job seeker stand out from the masses in the application process and on guidance in preparing a résumé to emphasize accomplishments

• Finding Financial Stability in Times of Change

• A training session on Google Docs

In addition, there were monthly talks with the Rabbis geared to provide a forum for people to discuss issues related to their job searches, and a LinkedIn group was created that now has over 450 members. Other synagogues and Jewish organizations have taken note of the proactive stance we have taken in this area and are beginning to offer some of these services themselves.

We recently shifted our focus to concentrate on helping BJ members who are looking to promote their businesses or to launch new ones. In October, BJ offered a Business and Career Network Event, for members only, that had over 100 attendees. In the months ahead, we intend to schedule other events to continue this effort. Look for announcements in future issues of the Kol Jeshurun.

David Zagorski has been a BJ member since 2002. He founded the BJ Single Parent Havurah, and is now a member of both the Employment Task Force and the Singles Committee.