September 2009

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LinkedIn, the social media tool, is one way that S.H.A.R.E is helping their members network.
Networking Central

Support and Networking for Job Seekers.

-- Adam Wishkovsky with Sharon Richman and Carol Orenstein

As the economic news worsened in late 2008, Beth Am Israel (BAI) members began to discuss the challenges and stresses they were facing and several synagogue members decided to take action. President John Harris and Rabbi Jeff Sultar quickly embraced the idea of supporting members—both at Beth Am and at other area synagogues—who were facing home foreclosures, losing jobs or dealing with other financial difficulties.

John shared the idea with Jackie Needleman, BAI Gemilot Chasidim committee chair, and soon thereafter Jackie, Lisa Schifman, BAI -Fiscal Secretary, Ken Podell, BAI member and a Financial Advisor and Adam Wishkovsky, BAI member, met and established the “Reachout Reference and Support” group. The group’s original goal was to connect with and support community members in multiple ways: to help people handle financial issues; to help them prepare for potential career changes; to brainstorm on job search best practices; and to offer a safe, supportive space to share experiences.

After meeting several times, the group decided to change its name from “Reach Out” to “BAI Cares Support Group.” This group has continued to evolve and to reflect the community’s needs—driven partly by my own personal experience.

In early 2009, I lost my job as a sales executive for a large publicly traded company. Suddenly I found myself on the “client” side of the table! My function at BAI Cares became more personal and more intense. I soon learned that other BAI members who had lost their jobs did not enjoy the benefit of an outplacement firm, I realized how fortunate I was that I had this resource. At that point, I decided to establish a Job Networking group at BAI where members could exchange ideas and support one another—to provide each other with an informal outplacement networking group. We met each Friday afternoon at BAI, and shortly thereafter, members from Har Zion and Main Line Reform joined our group. loyment (for those who are unemployed or are concerned about their employment status) due to the economic downturn.”

Recently, the group decided to change its name one last time; it is now called “S.H.A.R.E. - Support, Help, Assistance, Resources = Employment.”

Activities of the group now include weekly networking meetings; the ability to connect over the Internet via LinkedIn, where there are 33 group members currently registered (access to job opportunities that members share; and general networking opportunities).

“I believe strongly in supporting my community in any way I can. I was more than happy to sponsor brunch for those attending weekly meetings,” said Mike Saewitz, a BAI member and President of Campus Textbooks who generously contributed brunch after each of the multiple meetings.

“Presenting to the group on non-profit opportunities was a great experience. I have so much passion for my work, and I was thrilled to learn that people in the group are considering making a career change into the non-profit arena,” said Cyndee Wishkovsky, BAI Member and Director of Aging Services at Journey’s Way. “Non-profit work is very fulfilling, but transitioning into this type of work can be a bit tricky.”

One group member, Jane Siegel, commented, “Meeting weekly with people in the Jewish community who understand what we are going through, who support each other in difficult times, is so valuable. Friendships, humor, and new ideas provide a jolt of caffeine to get people motivated and moving. I also like how the group has handled different topics—the presenters have each been very professional, prepared and helpful in addressing the specific needs of the group—they’ve been focused on the group’s needs. The variety of speakers has been great too.”

Hope Kirschner, another group member, said “The group has been a tremendous support network for those of currently in transition during these tough economic times. I have found it to be extremely beneficial—it’s been great to talk with other people going through the same things as I am. I have learned a great deal from the presenters and from other group members and I have really enjoyed the camaraderie.”

Additional speakers have included BAI members who are HR recruiters, career advisors, professors of communications & leadership, professors of English writing, president of a career executive company, a financial advisor and others. So many members have contributed generously of their time to help those in need.

Upcoming Workshops:

  • October 1 with Dr. David Weiman
    Subject: The psychology of goal-setting and interview “secrets” from a professional interviewer.
  • October 8 with John Harris
    Subject: “How healthcare is transforming – with or without reform – and what that means for healthcare jobs”

Additional Job Workshops will be scheduled shortly.

S.H.A.R.E. meets 7:30pm every Thursday evening at Har Zion Temple (1500 Hagys Ford Road, Penn Valley, Pennsylvania) with the exception of next Thursday, September 17, 2009. For more information, please contact Adam Wishkovsky adamwish23@gmail.com or Sharon Richman sir4531@gmail.com.

Adam Wishkovsky, a sales & marketing executive for over 25 years. Born in Poland, grew up in Israel, served at the IDF and participated in the Six Days and Yom Kippur wars. Arrived to USA in 1976 to complete his MBA at the Buffalo (SUNY) University. Moved to Philadelphia in 1986 and a member of Beth Am Israel since then. Married to Cyndee (Heisler) and has 2 sons, Joel & Ariel.

To view previous editions of "Networking Central", please click here.

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