(Courtesy of OJC) The grand ballroom at the King David Hotel in Yerushalayim was at maximum capacity—with spillover into the lobby—on Sunday evening for the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce (OJC) Israel branch’s inaugural business networking dinner. Nearly two hundred men and women attended the VIP event, roughly triple what organizers initially expected. And the diversity was striking—attendees hailed from across the spectrum of both Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jewry.
However, more than the quantity, it was the quality of the event that most struck attendees. “After the event, attendee after attendee shared that this was the most productive networking event they’ve ever been to in Israel,” relates Duvi Honig, the Chamber’s founder and CEO. “Attendees were all ‘leaders’ in their respective industries and exceptionally valuable to forge connections with.”
Influential former Likud minister Gideon Saar, who is widely seen a future candidate for Prime Minister, delivered the keynote address. He spoke of the rich Jewish history in Israel and how important it is to promote housing and business opportunities—with the OJC serving as an invaluable vehicle. Minister Saar then shared a personal revelation that elicited thundering applause from the audience: Following the birth of his daughter just over four years ago, he became a Shomer Shabbos.
The event was geared towards the Anglo-Israeli business world and featured general networking and speed networking sessions, as well as special resources for women in the workforce. Yehuda Freilich, OJC Israel Committee board member and a former Chicago resident, explained that when he made aliyah along with other high-level American professionals, they initially struggled to succeed in the Israeli economy. They would travel to the US each month for a significant amount of time, placing enormous hardship upon themselves and their families.
The Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce and initiatives such as J-Biz Expo provided Yehuda and many of his peers with the networking tools to succeed on the international business scene even while remaining in Israel. In fact, all members of the Chamber’s prestigious Israel branch committee have previously utilized the Chamber’s US-based resources for their own successful endeavors. They are now working together to provide these resources—and more—to the full Anglo-Israeli business sphere.
With the official launch of the Chamber’s Israel branch and the countless relationships already formed at the networking event—which will be followed by future events—the future is brighter than ever. Rochel Rappaport, a Lakewood entrepreneur and frequent traveler to Israel who co-chairs the Chamber Israel branch’s “Women in the Workforce” division along with Penina Eichler, relates, “The environment at the event was very charged with hope. People feel, ‘We’re part of something new and promising.’”
Internationally acclaimed marketing guru Rabbi Isaamar Ginzberg, who serves as a member of the OJC Israel Committee, delivered an insightful address at the event. Duvi Honig also presented the OJC-Israel’s “Business of the Year Award” to Sheldon Ritz, director of operations at the King David Hotel, which has been a dedicated partner in the OJC’s activities. (The hotel also hosted the Chamber’s US-Israel Business Alliance VIP Dinner last year, as well as the recent dinner celebrating the launch of the Israel branch.)
Sheldon will be placing the award plaque on a prominent spot near the hotel entrance, which is constantly visited by presidents, vice presidents and leading diplomats from the US and nations around the world. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to stay at the hotel in the near future. Bank Mizrahiwas was also a major sponsor of the event, as were Janglo and several prominent media outlets—Jewish Press, Israel Video Network and 12Tribe—highlighting the incredible power and reach of the OJC network.
“At the core of the OJC’s success and networking power is achdus,” Duvi Honig reflected. “With Hashem’s help, we now see Klal Yisroel’s achdus on a global scale. It is a true Kiddush Hashem.”