When Terry Oved looks back on what’s been the foundation of his career as chairman and founding partner at Oved and Oved, LLP, there’s one thing that immediately comes to mind for the New York-based lawyer—the Torah.
With new, innovative programs such as Young Jewish Professionals (YJP) New York’s “Torah with the CEO’s”, established businesspeople like Terry have the unique opportunity to speak with the next generation of Jewish business leaders in private roundtable discussions about how influential the Torah has been in shaping their business career; discussions also center around current issues and relevant topics in Jewish business life.
“I always make it a point to tell people that if you are Jewish, you were born with an instruction manual and fortunately, it’s the Torah, which has been handed to us directly,” Terry says. “We have a tradition dating back thousands of years that shows us how to do things and why we do them. There’s an adherence, and with that, there is success, health and happiness.”
Created two years ago, the “Torah with the CEO’s” program is critical in inspiring and motivating future business professionals by providing them the opportunity to learn from leading professionals in their field, according to YJP’s Raquel Serebrenik. The program helps young people keep Judaism at the forefront of their minds as they enter the working world. “At the end of the day, we’re a Jewish organization, and sometimes in the busy day-to-day of a Jewish professional, it’s difficult to always uphold your Judaism and the values that guide us,” Serebrenik says. “This curriculum ultimately allows CEOs to show young Jewish professionals how they can implement their Jewish values in daily work life and why it’s critical to make sure our Judaism doesn’t stop when we leave our homes.”
Whether he’s speaking at “Torah with the CEO’s” or to other young people in general, Terry often selects a portion of the Torah to center the conversation on. After a brief summarization, he shares what he has learned and how the themes relate to everyday life and the business world. Not only has the Torah motivated and guided Terry throughout his career, but it’s also guided him in how he leads his life. In business, underlying characteristics among successful businesspeople are that of honesty, grace and reliability—attributes continuously mentioned in the Torah.
“The Torah contains every one of the great values we live by personally, and most of it applies to the business world as well,” Terry says. “One of the biggest things I’ve taken from the Torah—and what I share with others—is the importance of commitment and keeping your word. If you commit to being somewhere at 3 p.m., stick to it! If you can’t do something at a certain time, make someone aware as soon as possible. You’ll find most times, people don’t mind as long as you’re up front about it.”
Every month, “Torah with the CEO’s” caps participation at roughly 100 people per event to ensure attendees benefit from the intimate and engaging environment the program aims to emulate. And while the message is structured around Judaism and the Torah, the program is open to all young professionals who are looking to be inspired.
“When I spoke at the event, I actually had a few non-Jews and those who weren’t very religious come up to me afterwards and say how influential the event was on them and how particular concepts of the Torah impacted them,” Terry says. “That was really special and at the end of the day, wealth is measured by happiness and not the other way around. You can’t attend a session and immediately learn how to make $1 million. The larger concepts of Judaism can really expand your mind and help you understand that in order to evolve, we have to push our limits and know that God is in us.”
To read more about how Jewish principles apply to business, click here.