Last Sunday I had the privilege to attend the Jewish Women Entrepreneur Conference in New Brunswick, NJ. I’ll admit that when I first saw an advertisement for the conference, I was skeptical. “How many Orthodox Jewish Women Entrepreneurs could there be?” I thought. I only knew of a handful. I thought that it might end up filled with women who were considering starting a business, and that the workshops would be quite basic, not geared to people like me who have been running businesses for almost a decade. But, I was intrigued so I decided to check out the website. I was impressed by the wide range of workshops being given and read the impressive bios of the presenters. I decided that this was something I couldn’t miss, and registered on the spot.
The conference completely exceeded my expectations. It was attended by over 300 observant Jewish women, most of whom were already accomplished business owners. They spanned every industry: attorneys, graphic designers, tech startups, real estate, manufacturing, caterers, interior designers, consultants and more. Yet everyone was tied together with the perspective that while we can and should strive to achieve businesses success, that is not who we are. Our number one priority is still raising a Jewish family. It was especially inspiring to hear from women who are able to arrange their schedules so they can be home with their children for a large part of the day, or work from home.
One of my favorite workshops was a presentation on productivity by Devorah Goldblatt, founder of Advantage Point Test Prep. I’ve always been into productivity, and I’ve gone through phases using different methods such as scheduling tasks into my day, working with a daily to-do list, and have also tried out various websites and apps to help me be more productive. I was inspiring by how Devorah was able to cut her working hours in half when she focused on being more productive and outsourcing, so she is able to homeschool her three children during the day! Stay tuned for another post about how I’ve been doing a “time audit” to see where I spend my time each day and how I’m using that to improve my productivity.
As always, it was exciting and gratifying to hear many women there tell me how much their daughters love YALDAH! I even met the mom of Rochel McCallister, who we interviewed all the way back in our second issue.
I’d say that the highlight of the conference was the keynote speaker, Tali Mashiach. Talia is the founder of Eved, an multi-million dollar event commerce company. She was inducted into the Chicago
Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame in 2009 and named one of The Winning Women by Ernst and Young. She was also on the Inc. 500 list. Talia spoke about her journey as an entrepreneur, which started at ten years old, as well as how she juggles growing her business with being the mother of five children. Her message was, “you can do it – go for your dreams!” which is a perfect message for YALDAH readers as well. In fact, that really was the message of the whole conference. You can do it if you set your mind to it.
Throughout the conference, I kept thinking about how many stereotypes exist about Orthodox women. How many people think that we are confined to the kitchen and don’t have opportunities to be successful professionals? I wished the world could see this room – filled with hundreds of successful women from all circles of Orthodoxy. I’m so happy that an organization exists now to represent these women and offer them guidance and support with the unique issues that we face.