What’s a ‘Hub’?

My wife is rather serious about upgrading her Hebrew language skills and thus attends an advanced ulpan. One day, she came home with an interesting story. Two of the ulpan participants were having a heated argument about the Anglicization of the spoken and written Hebrew language. One argued that she was confident that the situation would get better and the spoken Hebrew language would eventually become purer and purer.

“What makes you thinks so?” came the challenge.

The response was a simple, “Ani optimisti!”

I thought of this and of my five-year-old grandson, who before he goes to sleep is “mitpajem” when contemplating a new project inaugurated by Temech.

Temech is an organization which has already placed over 3,000 chareidi women in jobs settings that are both comfortable and appropriate for the chareidi population.  So what is their new project? They decided to open a “Hub” in the center of Yerushalayim.

Despite struggling to find a proper Hebrew word for the idea, they decided to simply call it a Hub. Their need to elaborate is not simply that of mere language — there are conceptual issues that need to be explained to the curious inquirer.

In Western countries, a shared work environment, called a Hub, is fast becoming popular. Although there is tremendous advantage in our current economy for people to work on a computer from their homes, they soon realize that they are missing something. Employees are missing the networking that is an integral part of a work environment.

Astute businessmen rented large office areas and began renting smaller portions to individuals. The costs were less expensive than renting a full office and those who rented the smaller units had the opportunity to run their own business or service while interacting with other people. The Hub was born.

In the chareidi community, the need was more acute. This was especially true for chareidi women. Temech has concentrated during the eight years of its existence on developing jobs for women who, because of tznius factors, would find it challenging to work in a secular work environment. Large companies like Intel and Matrix and Visa-kal, among many others, realized the value of this untapped resource and worked with Temech to provide suitable work environments in which chareidi women would be comfortable.

The result? Thousands of kollel families who, in many cases, are for the first time bringing significant income into their homes, while maintaining the kedushah of bnos Yisrael. Not atypical is the story of the makolet owner in Arad who said that since Temech organized jobs for the wives of the community, he found that women were, for the first time, purchasing yogurts and chocolates for Shabbos.

That works for many women who are comfortable working regular hours as an employee. It is not a solution, however, for the many kollel wives who would rather make their own hours and develop their own business. It also isn’t the solution for those who had trained in skills like graphic arts that lend themselves to entrepreneurial situations.

A chareidi woman cannot start her business sitting in a coffee shop like so many others do. She cannot entertain male clients in her living room. She doesn’t have the experience or the opportunity to network with others who can use her services.

Enter  the “Jerusalem Hub.” Situated in the business center of Yerushalayim, it is dedicated to providing an atmosphere in which chareidi women entrepreneurs can learn to grow their business — without sacrificing their tznius. It is outfitted with internet services provided under the hashgachah of a prominent Rav, with a full array of modern office facilities, a business library, courses on how to advance their business goals and, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to network with like-minded women in an effort to find new customers and help support their families.

We live in trying times. The economic model that Hakadosh Baruch Hu will use to support the tens of thousands of kollel students who are dedicating their lives to the study of His Torah is still not clear. Economists like the Stanley Fischers of the world are looking at the old models and saying that it can’t work.

However, the creative minds behind the Temech organization are developing new models for Hakadosh Baruch Hu to funnel His brachos through.

As times and circumstances change, we are given the opportunity and the siyatta diShmaya to develop new solutions. Sometimes, along the path, we have to develop not only a new concept but also a new word like a Hub. I’m confident though, that Hakadosh Baruch Hu will find some way to provide parnassah for His kollel yungeleit.

You see, Ani optimisti!


 

Rabbi Shmuel Bloom, the Vice-Chairman of Agudath Israel World Organization was the founder of Temech when he served as Executive Vice-President of Agudath Israel of America. He currently resides in Israel and serves as the Dean of the Ohr Lagolah kolel, affiliated with Yeshivas Ohr Somayach. He can be reached at rabbisbloom@gmail.com