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May 17, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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May 17, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS~ MAY 17, 2013 PAGE 15A By Michele Alperin Chaya: Appel-Fishman hatched the idea for a net- work of Jewish business- women at age -16, when she rented a college campus and created a conglomerate of creative arts programs with 120 participants and a 20-person staff. "I wanted mentors who could give me advice and deal with my religious "needs," she recalls. "And many women reached out to me for support, asking me 'How did I do it?'" Now 24 and the founder and executive director of The Jewish Woman Entrepreneur nonprofit, Appel-Fishman was the driving force behind the organization's first confer- ence, which took place this month. Attended by 300 Or- thodox women, the May 5 conference at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, N J, had broad goals. "This conference wasn't meant to be just about work-life balance," Appel- Fishman tells "We wanted to blend core, substantive business con- tent as well as challenging, difficult issues and also networking to encourage women to meet and Support each other.'" Starting as notes on napkins, Appel-Fishman's idea for a women's business network was eventually concretized with a website in 2009, nonprofit status, and now the conference. Attendees reflected a healthy blend across the spectrum of Orthodoxy, suggests Appel-Fishman, but with more Hassidic women than expected, in- cluding 50 on a bus from Borough Park in Brooklyn. Fifteen women came under the aegis of From~Sister to Sister, which supports divorcees with children. Some women there were [he heads of huge busi- nesses, some were trying to figure out how to get a small service-oriented business off the ground, and others just love to work. "They have large families and need a dual income," Appel-Fishman says. "Our goal is to validate women who work because they need to and those who .work because they want to," she adds. Although Appel-Fishman is interested in a wider spectrum of Jewish women, for now her primary con- stituency is narrow. "We are focusing predominantly on the Orthodox commu- nity-because they need us the most," she says. "They needed an exclusively Jew- ish and kosher organiza- tion; other Jewish women have elsewhere to go." Although many women who attended were from the New York area, women also came from as far as Califor- nia and the Midwest to be at the one-day conference. Ellen Paxton, a newly observant woman who is founder and chief learn- ing officer of Professional Learning Board in Minne- apolis, came to meet other entrepreneurs. She hopes to expand her company, which offers online classes- to largely secular educa- tion professionals to help them meet licensing and professional development requirements, to the Jewish community. "I have grown personally in my Judaism, and now it is time to grow professionally in that re- gard," she says. "The more I stay true to my values, the more it supports the growth of my business." Other businesses and nonprofits were focused primarily on the Ortho- dox community. Elana Bergovoy of Chicago, who started the International Shidduch Group Network as a volunteer eight years ago, now has matchmaking support groups for mothers on every continent. Drawn to the conference because "it sounded very empower- ing," she is ready to take her grassroots organization to the next level. "I need to know how to be a profes- sional," says the former teacher. "I have to monetize it so that I get paid, because my time is precious." Charisse Smoller of Fre- mont, Calif., will be launch- ing Jewish E-Cards & More when she gets her website up in August. Working as an occupational therapy assis- tant 29 hours a week to pay her business staff, Smoller came to the conference to network. "I am trying to get writers, artists, and photog- raphers and to get out the word so people will like us on Facebook and purchase a membership," she says. Robin Ticker of Brooklyn, who has a background in computer science, wants to create abusiness to help parents who are not com- puter savvy put some limits on their children use the Internet and social media. "They are getting into stuff contrary to the Torah life- style and are overexposed to a lot of ideas," she says. Many attendees had ex- isting service businesses they strive to expand. Rena Schleifer of Monsey, N.Y., has a doctorate in nutrition and does counseling to help people integrate healthy eating and movement into their daily lives. "I'm here to learn how to transmit that message," she says. "If I want to make money, I have to become an entre- preneur." Other women were con- nected with nonprofits or wanted to create them. Frieda Kahn, who repre- sents Neve Yerushalayim, a group of schools in Har Nof, Israel, that educates Jewish women of all affiliations, ages, and backgrounds, says 'of the conference, "There hasn'tbeen another oppor- tunity for Orthodoxwomen to connect on a professional level." Attendee Chani Mayer of Brooklyn says she wants to start a nursery school focusing not just on baby- sitting, but on building self-confidence in children. M.E. Lax of Monsey would like to start a home for pre- at-risk boys who turn rebel- lious from ages 13 to 15. The day featured two speakers, a primer on net- working,,and four concur- rent workshop sessions on subjects including starting a business, developing an elevator pitch, employee relations, using productiv- ity tools, raising capital and marketing with social media, and navigating the professional world. Both speakers empha- sized the demands of own- ing a business, especially one that makes it big. Chief executive office of Achieve 3000, a provider of differ- entiated reading instruc- tion, Saki Dodelson is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, with four chil- dren, two grandchildren, and a husband who learns Torah by day rather than holding a traditional job. She urged the women at the conference to dream big, start small, hire people they trust, and whenever something is working, scale it up fast. Sometimes things like home-cooked dinners go when women begin full- time jobs. When a teacher reported to Dodelson that her daughter had said that in December there were no suppers at home, Dodelson told her, "Yes~ that's true, however, we're going to have supper in May." At the same time she noted that when a child is sick, she has had to drop a business trip or say no to an amaz- ing deal. Talia Mashiach, a 36 -year- old mother of five who mar- ried right after high school, today runs Eved, a company that automates the buying and selling necessary for meetings and events. The company has tripled its rev- enues three years in a row, now processing more than $80 million in transactions. A super achiever, Mashiach graduated at the top of her business class at Loyola University, despite having two children in the process. She started her first real business, Tech Closeouts, to earn money to add an a~ldition to her house while staying home with her children. When she got tired of being on the phone all day selling discounted computers, she decided to move on to something she was more passionate about--busi- nesses through technology. That led to Eved. Today Eved is at a point where Mashiach can take off Fridays and have a fresh, homemade meal ready for Shabbat. Mashiach says, "We are so fortunate to have Torah as our guide; my exposure to the outside world has made me under- stand and appreciate that so much more." At the same time, Mashiach feels committed~ to her role as a business- woman, feeling that she is following her God-given talents. "Hashem gives us special gifts; it is our duty to make use of them," she says. The Jewish Woman Entrepreneur Orthodox Jewish women network at the first-ever conference of The Jewish Woman Entrepreneur nonprofit on May 5 in New Brunswick, N.J. EWISH Part-time assistant editor Approximately 22 hours per week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, from 1 - 5 p.m. Wednesday 11 - 5 p.m. Responsibilities will include editirlg, writing, page layout, photography and some misc. clerical. Knowledge of the Jewish community and computer experience helpful. Please send resume to : or call Jeff at 407-834-878Z LORIDA EWISH NEWS An Annual Issue Published By HERITAGE Florida Jewish News and Featuring a Variety of Thought-Provoking Articles m Health and Fitness Related Subjects. Publication Date: Une 14, 2013 Reaching a Responsive, Health-Conscious Market Deadline for this Important Issue is Wednesday, June 5, 2013 CALL TODAY TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE D