Over 300 men and women gathered at the Pikesville DoubleTree Hotel for the inaugural Mid-Atlantic Business Halacha Conference in Baltimore. The conference was a first-of-its-kind large-scale opportunity for working people in and around Maryland to gather to network and, more importantly, receive inspiration and practical guidance from leading rabbonim on the areas of business halacha in today’s workplace.
The packed schedule included keynote addresses, individual sessions, and panels covering a wide range of topics – from business management on Shabbos, to interest, to loshon hara. Additionally, there were special sessions for men and for women about gender-related practices in the workplace.
Rabbi Aaron Lopiansky, Rosh Yeshiva of the Yeshiva Gedolah of Greater Washington, kicked off the conference, setting the tone with the opening keynote. Rabbi Lopiansky stated that rather than just being an opportunity to review some relevant piskei halacha, the conference would allow attendees to develop a new layer of avodas Hashem. Through the integration of Torah into day-to-day business life, Rabbi Lopiansky explained, one makes one’s Torah learning part and parcel of one’s life, elevating one’s very reality.
In a session titled “My co-worker was wondering…” Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer, President of the Vaad HaRabbonim of Baltimore and Rav of Shearith Israel Congregation, and Rabbi Aaron Lopiansky answered challenging questions submitted by the attendees on a variety of workplace – and klal-oriented topics.
Howard Tzvi Friedman, former president and chairman of AIPAC, Ronnie Wilheim, president of the long-term care division at CommuniCare Health Services, and Duvy Gross, founder of Regency Nursing and president of Regency Global Acquisitions, emphasized in a panel on how business leaders can impact the Klal, the importance that caring plays in helping the Klal: “The most important thing that you need is not an organization and resources, but to care.”
The event closed with an evening keynote session that featured speeches from Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Rosh Yeshivas Ner Yisrael, Baltimore, and Naftali Horowitz, managing director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. Rabbi Frand spoke extensively about the importance of honesty and the evils of dishonesty. He stressed the need to represent Hashem in the workplace by conducting oneself according to the highest standards and the damage one can do by being dishonest. Naftali Horowitz spoke about emunah, and not letting ‘the way things are supposed to work’ limit us. He also stressed the importance of helping others achieve success.
“It was amazing to see so many people take off a day to come together for the purpose of learning halacha and receiving chizuk to enhance the standards of their business practices,” said Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, executive director of Agudath Israel of Maryland. “We look forward to providing the community with other opportunities of raising the level of mitzvah observance in the years to come.”
“The Agudah’s Business Halachah Conferences are a great service to the Frum business community,” said one attendee. “Giving an opportunity for those in business to hear from the leading poskim and gedolim of today at the same time as being able to network with each other is a service that is not offered anywhere else.”
It was an honor to participate in this event that brings spirituality, ruchnios, into our daily business practices,” said Rabbi Aaron Lopiansky. “Ensuring that our businesses are run in accordance with halacha is of the utmost importance to our communities.”
Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, executive director of Agudath Israel of Maryland
Crowd at Panel: Building a Business; Building the Klal
Rabbi Aaron Lopiansky, Rosh Yeshiva of the Yeshiva Gedolah of Greater Washington
Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Rosh Yeshivas Ner Yisrael
Rabbi Labish Becker, Executive Director, Agudath Israel of America
Naftali Horowitz, managing director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Ronnie Wilheim, Duvy Gross, and Howard Tzvi Freidman – Panel: Building a Business; Building the Klal
Stuart Schabes Esq and Rabbi Yitzhak Grossman
Shlomo Kanner Esq and Rabbi Moshe Heinemann
Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer and Rabbi Aaron Lopiansky
Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer and Rabbi Aaron Lopiansky – Panel – “My co-worker was wondering…”
Crowd shot at Panel – “My co-worker was wondering…”
Crowd shot at Networking Lunch