How to be Successful: The Jewish Way

9 months ago The Connections Staff 0

Ethan Benenson// Hunterdon County, NJ

One of the things that made the CTeen INTL Shabbaton so incredible was getting a chance to meet so many inspiring Jewish people. On Friday, which was the first full day of the program, my chapter of CTeen Hunterdon County took the day to meet three successful Jewish professionals my Rabbi knew through various family connections.

Even though they were super busy, they still made time to sit down and talk with us about their professional lives and outlook on Judaism, which I was very grateful for.

Editor’s Note: All of these interactions were recorded with the exception of the meeting with David Turret, during which notes were taken.

First up was David Turret, a wise personal injury lawyer with a lifetime of experience in the courtroom. He comes from a long line of Jewish lawyers and grew up going to synagogue, Hebrew school and Jewish summer camp. He talked about the lessons he learned and the values his Jewish upbringing instilled within him.

“Judaism can really help you understand the importance of family and tradition,” he reflects. He also discussed having faith in Hashem while still taking responsibility for yourself. “You have to know what you want to do. If you’re not happy in your situation, move on…You never know where you might end up.”

After graduating from Fordham Law School, David began helping immigrants from the Soviet Union get settled in America. Eventually, he started doing all kinds of different cases in the courtroom, which gave him a great deal of valuable experience and insight.

He says that one of the things that was always most important to him was helping people and doing all the good he is able to do for the world. “Stick to your own values and morals,” he says. “Stay true to yourself, and do what you think is right.”

His ultimate advice for us? “Do something good so you can have a great college essay.” Will do, Mr. Turret. Thank you!

On that note, we continued on to our next stop: the 76th Floor of the Freedom Tower. Isaac Gurary is a Co-Founder of a fraud prevention company called NoFraud that recently moved its headquarters to the One World Trade Center itself.

His open secret to success? “Every morning from six-ten to seven I study Kabbalah [Jewish mysticism] and Chassidus [Chabad philosophy] and then I pray for an hour,” Isaac says. “The first two hours of my day are my foundation. It puts me in the right frame of mind, because during the day the world happens. There’s a lot of challenges and a lot of opportunities, and it’s very important to also remember that we not only represent religious Jews, but Jews in general.”

Isaac continued to talk to us about what it means to be Jewish in the business world. “Jews have the reputation of being honest, having integrity, being kind, being respectful, so it’s very important in the real world when you get out there to sanctify G-d’s name in a positive way.”

Isaac also touched on the importance of working hard and limiting our ego by having faith in Hashem.

“You have to have a lot of trust in everything that happens,” Isaac says. “Working hard is just a part of what we have to do on our end. Any success I have had in my life, on any front and against all odds, has been because G-d wanted me to be successful”

Isaac had many more insightful lessons to give, and this small stub does not do justice to all the wisdom he kindly took the time to share with us.

After those incredible moments with Isaac, we were off to SoHo in lower Manhattan for our final visit with Akiva Gottlieb. Akiva is one of the first employees at a revolutionary commercial real-estate tech company founded in 2019 called Lev Capital. I’ll let Akiva explain what the business is all about:

“We find local banks to give loans to commercial real estate developers and owners…For example, the reason why everyone uses Uber is because it’s so easy. With that same concept, we are trying to make it easier for people who own real estate to get loans…We take the specifics of whatever kind of real estate you’re working on, and we match it with specific banks.”

Akiva also has a very interesting background. He went to Yeshiva University, a college in NYC that mixes an advanced secular curriculum with a Jewish one similar to what you would learn at a normal Yeshiva. He says that this dual curriculum has really helped him and proved a useful experience throughout his life.

“If you’re a Jew, life is a dual curriculum,” Akiva says. “What Yeshiva University did for me is make sure that the religious studies of my life are important and part of my every day as well as that I have the energy for the other secular part of my life. Being a dual curriculum student for four years has just helped me be a dual curriculum individual in general.”

Out of our entire hour-long discussion worthy of a podcast, the message Akiva communicated that stood out to me the most was simply about being a good person.

“It’s an individual’s responsibility to be a good character,” Akiva says. “The most Jewish concept in the world, to me, is to just be a good human being and to bring light, whatever that means to you…Everyone’s gotta find their own energy.”

And with that, we bid farewell to Akiva and went back to Crown Heights to welcome the Shabbat.

Hopefully next year at the next INTL Shabbaton, when David Turret is the most renowned lawyer in Manhattan, Isaac Gurary has moved up to the 77th floor and Akiva is building up Lev Capital’s operations in Israel, we will get to talk with all these incredible people again.

But until then, it’s time to commit to those mitzvah pledges and get on the grind!