Young Jewish professionals link faith to their careers through Jewish Learning Fellowship’s new program

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Photo Credit: Karen Pinilla | Daily Texan Staff

Careers in business are often shadowed by anxieties of perpetuating corruption and greed, but by using the framework of Jewish ethics, Jewish Learning Fellowships teaches members how to conduct and run businesses morally. 

Jewish Learning Fellowships, an organization that works under Texas Hillel, runs a mentorship program that specializes in business success and ethics. The students in charge of the program invite various Jewish business professionals to discuss how Halacha, otherwise known as Jewish law, and ethics intertwine with their careers. 

“(It’s) an opportunity for Jewish students interested in business to network with executives with experience and understanding of the ethical side of business,” said Michael Zetune, undeclared freshman and group coordinator of the organization’s Executive Membership Program.

Economics and finance junior Mack Dowdall is a member of the program’s inaugural class. He said he enjoys the program because it bridges his passion for his career and Jewish life.

“It’s a nice place to connect with my Jewish heritage and learn relevant Jewish ideals around business,” Dowdall said. 

Supply chain management senior Noa Gadot is on the board of the organization’s new initiative. He said the program is unique in comparison to other organizations that partner with UT or Hillel. 

“What differentiates this program from other programs is it connects business to Judaism in terms of ethics and values,” Gadot said. “It bridges the gap between our Jewish identity and 21st-century
day-to-day jobs.”

As a first-year student in McCombs, Zetune said he finds a lot of value in learning about how these executives’ experiences might fit into his future career path.

“A lot of people come into the business school not understanding what each major means and what careers are going to come out of them,” Zetune said. “Being able to talk to someone gives us an idea of what the careers actually look like and how to get there, which we might not have in traditional classes in school.”

Gadot said this program is beneficial for students like her because it helps foster relationships with influential and educational individuals in the fields of their interests.

“As an undergraduate, the most important thing is to put yourself in an environment that has different people to learn from,” Gadot said. “The more you get involved in areas that provide you mentorship, the more you’ll learn. The beauty of this program is it accelerates individual learning.”

The organization seeks the most passionate and dedicated students for these discussions. In doing so, the Executive Mentorship Program only caters to 20–25 students selected through an application process. Gadot said the close environment of these meetings also contributes to their effectiveness.

“You learn more when a study is more intimate, so because of that we use an application process to find students who really want to integrate their Jewish identity in their interest of becoming a business leader,” Gadot said. “We can’t accept so many members, otherwise it dilutes the conversation.”

Jewish Learning Fellowship’s new Executive Membership Program promotes ethical practices for these future Jewish business leaders by introducing the students to those who paved that path for them. 

“We get to talk to inspirational people, network with them, get advice and understand where their experiences fit into our future experiences,” Zetune said. “It’s an incredible opportunity for those involved.”