The Man with the

NIOS STATE OF ILLI eld, IL Springfi

2011

S tate of Israel lars -Ten Million Dol
Investment

10 M
Dan Rutherford, Treasurer

State’s Checkbook
By Simon Samuels Page 4

A conversation with Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford

In This Issue: A Job Interviewing Tip
By Richard Rotberg

Corporate Tikun Olam
The Jewish way of giving back
By Yisroel Kamen

The Six Month Business Check UP
By Moshe Klein

Protecting Against Inflation’s Impact
By Jewish Business News Staff

Page 3

Page 6

Page 8

Page 10

CONTENT
3 3 BUSINESS NETWORKING CALENDAR EMPLOYMENT A Job Interviewing Tip
By Richard Rotberg

FROM THE PUBLISHER
Dear Reader,
In November, changes were seen in government on many levels. One of the newly elected state officers was Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who in just 100 days has shaken up the office and implemented his own changes. This month, Simon Samuels shares a recent exclusive interview that Jewish Business News had with the Treasurer and talks about the decision to invest in Israel. Very often I am asked to explain the details of what business networking “is”. It may be easier to mention what it’s not. Networking is not Selling. Jewish B2B Networking is a dynamic social network for professionals to connect online and in person, but we are not here to sell each other. Yes, we will make sales to one another as a by-product of networking, but our purpose is to build relationships through networking that leads to new business. According to Webster’s dictionary, networking is: the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. JBN Magazine will offer great content to help you sell, but our purpose is to be a place to develop relationships with people who will introduce you to potential clients and decision makers. Giver’s Gain. This motto is well known to people who are successful networkers. Networking is about giving, not taking. If you go to meetings or contact people online looking to get something from them, it won’t work. People will want to do business with you because they are attracted to you. How does this happen? By being a giver. The person who is known to be a giver becomes a star. And it’s the right thing to do. How can you start to become known as a giver? Go to your next networking meeting with the primary objective of finding a way to help someone that you meet, rather than how to get something for yourself. You’ll be amazed at the results. Wishing You Success,

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COVER STORY The Man with the State’s Checkbook

A conversation with Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford By Simon Samuels

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FEATURED BUSINESS Corporate Tikun Olam

The Jewish way of giving back By Yisroel Kamen

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IN MY OPINION The Six Month Business Check UP
By Moshe Klein

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FEATURED NETWORKERS BUSINESS ETHICS Some Basic Principles of Jewish Business Ethics
By Rabbi David Golinkin

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SMALL BUSINESS FORECAST Protecting Your Small Business from the Impact of Inflation
By Jewish Business News Staff

JOBS BOARD

On the cover: Cover photo by Office of Illinois State Treasurer Publisher & Editor: Shalom Klein Contributing Editors: Moshe Klein, Khane-Faygl Turtletaub Contributing Writers: Richard Rotberg, Simon Samuels, Mira Temkin, David Golinkin Creative Director: Michael Borkovec Advertising/Sales Coordinator: Leah Alpert Advertising Sales: Janis Mason Distribution Coordinator: Levi Gotlieb Check www.thejewishbusiness.com for updates. © 2011 Jewish Business News. All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without permission is prohibited. Editorial, publishing and advertising offices: 3564 W. Dempster St., Skokie, Ill., 60076, Phone: (888) 477-4466.
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An Engaging Evening of Speed Networking
Where: The Metropolitan Club - Willis Tower 233 S. Wacker, Chicago When: Wednesday, June 1, 5:30pm www.jewishb2bnetworking.com/events

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A Job Interviewing Tip
By: Richard Rotberg “So, tell me about yourself”. This is a common question used by human resource professionals. It is deceptively simple but poses a real threat to those who don’t understand its purpose. It is an unstructured question that does not provide clues for what the interviewer wants to know. If you are not prepared to answer this question effectively it can wreck your chances of landing a job. How can that be? Unstructured questions are commonly used by psychiatrists and psychologists to open their clients up and to understand client concerns and problems. The longer you talk the more chance you will express negative thoughts about previous employers (the jerk who fired you); problems you may have had on jobs (“those idiots didn’t know how to run a company”); attitudes you have about authority (“I don’t like working for anyone, just give me the task and get out of my way”) and I could go on for a long time with this, but you get the picture.

The Power of LinkedIn: Increasing Profitability and Revenue
Where: Webinar - participate from your home or office When: Tuesday, June 14, 12:00pm www.jewishb2bnetworking.com/events

July Networking Meeting - Chicago
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‘It is deceptively simple but poses a real threat to those who don’t understand its purpose.’

Breakfast and Networking with West Ridge Chamber of Commerce
Where: Devon Fish & Pizza 2848 W. Devon Avenue, Chicago When: Wednesday, September 14, 8:30am www.jewishb2bnetworking.com/events

Small Business Legislative Forum
Where: Skokie Theatre 7924 N. Lincoln Ave., Skokie When: Monday, September 26, 6:00pm www.jewishb2bnetworking.com/events

So, how to avoid this problem? I advise my clients to create a set answer to this question. It should be no longer than 3 to 5 minutes, not memorized but practiced out loud in front of a mirror, (there’s a good reason that actors practice lines out loud, in your head the speech always sounds good. Out loud you’ll hear mistakes a-plenty). This presentation should briefly cover your education, job history, main achievements and why you have interest in the job/company you’re interviewing for. Then you stop and ask the interviewer if there is more that he or she wants to know. If not, proceed to ask the interviewer about the job opening, what sort of person they are seeking for the job and what sort of problems they need solved. There are several reasons to do this. First, it enables you to take over the interview. Second, most people love to talk rather than listen. The more they talk the better you will sound to them! Third, they will discuss issues and problems of concern in the position that will enable you to respond with your expertise in solving those problems. You may learn many useful things about the position that will help you to sell yourself more effectively. But you can do this only if you are prepared to elicit information by taking over the interview as described. An unskilled interviewer will have no understanding of what you have done to turn the tables from interviewee to interviewer. A skilled interviewer will understand and give you points. So, tell me about yourself, and go get one for the gipper. Or, better, get one for yourself.
Richard Rotberg is the retired assistant director of JVS Chicago and currently a career counselor. JVS Chicago, is a 125-year-old non-profit, non-sectarian social service agency. To make a complimentary appointment with a career counselor at JVS, call 847-745-5464 or search for jobs online at www.ParnossahWorksChicago.org.

Chanukah Networking Event with Treasurer Dan Rutherford | Co-Sponsored by America-Israel Chamber of Commerce
Where: Grossinger City Autoplex 1561 Fremont, Chicago When: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 6:00pm www.jewishb2bnetworking.com/events

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The Man with the State’s Checkbook
A conversation with Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford
By Simon Samuels
On the average day, the man attends between five to ten events, meets dozens of people, has regularly scheduled media appearances, is responsible for $15 billion in investments, and manages a staff of close to two hundred employees. Meet Dan Rutherford, the financial planner for the State of Illinois. Background Treasurer Rutherford was born on May 26, 1955 in Pontiac, Illinois. Rutherford began his career as a Legislative Assistant in Springfield following his graduation from Illinois State University, where he served his school, community and fellow students as Student Body President. Always the outdoor adventurer, Dan had traveled through six continents, before turning 30 years old.

JBN Magazine Publisher, Shalom Klein, Illinois Treasurer, Dan Rutherford & former State Senator Art Berman

While on a business trip to Japan in 1984, Rutherford became familiar with the ServiceMaster Company. One year later, he joined the Downers Grove, Illinois-headquartered Company as an executive. Dan eventually became responsible for expansion of the company’s businesses internationally, licensing services in Chile, Brazil, Honduras, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Guam, Venezuela, South Africa, Spain, and a host of other countries. He continued in a variety of positions at ServiceMaster until resigning the position in late 2010. In 1993, Rutherford was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. Rutherford eventually rose to the position of Assistant Republican Leader. Following 10 years of service in that body, Rutherford was elected in 2003 to represent Illinois’ 53rd district in the Senate. In 2006, then Senator Rutherford launched his first statewide campaign in a bid to unseat popular Secretary of State Jesse White. That year, he lost by 28 percentage points to White, who is also of the Jesse White Tumbling Team fame. Facing off in a tough election to succeed Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, as Treasurer, Rutherford campaigned around Illinois, holding hundreds of events, and raising millions of dollars. On November 2, 2010, he won the election and became Illinois State Treasurer. Promises & Plans “I promised the people of Illinois and the taxpayers when I was inaugurated, that I would search for ways to streamline and cut
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costs,” Rutherford said marking 100 days in office. “We have found ways to save thousands of dollars, and more importantly, instill trust that office holders can do the right thing.” As one of the State’s constitutional officers, the Treasurer is required to have a residence in the State’s Capitol. Rutherford says that he was unable to find a suitable residence, so he requested a waiver to temporarily reside at the Red Roof Inn in Springfield. “The most economic option for the tax payers,” Rutherford added. An avid conservationist, Rutherford planted 18,000 trees and shrubs on his own property to promote reforestation and has been very vocal about expanding recycling programs. “Until recently, I didn’t know what the Treasurer’s office does,” said Samuel Kelly, grocery store owner in Highwood. “It is important that the State invests every nickel properly, much like any business owner.” When visiting Rutherford’s office, you may see him quickly typing out a Facebook update or posting a birthday video on YouTube. “I pledged transparency when I took this office, and enjoy keeping my friends and fellow citizens of Illinois updated on my job in office,” says Rutherford who posts most messages himself, with rare help by staff. Treasurer Rutherford recently announced the state’s purchase of $10 million worth of bonds from the State of Israel as a portion of the treasury’s sovereign bond holdings. “State of Israel bonds is a secure investment with an outstanding track record; they produce a strong www.thejewishbusiness.com

rate of return and Israel has never defaulted on payments of principal or interest,” Rutherford said. In praising the purchase, Israel Bonds president and CEO Joshua Matza noted, “The state of Illinois has been a loyal, consistent purchaser of Israel bonds. We are gratified by the state’s continued recognition of Israel bonds as dependable securities, as well as the fact that Israel bonds represent an investment in a sister democracy with shared values and ideals.” The State of Israel has offered stable investment return for more than a half a century. Israel began selling bonds in 1951; in that time, the country has raised $32.4 billion worldwide to transform its economic landscape into a global technology leader. Bond revenue has helped Israel build more NASDAQ companies than any other country outside of North America. The country has established a high concentration of high-tech entities similar to Silicon Valley, and major corporations like Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, and Google have built facilities there. Rutherford added, “I’m pleased to have another secure and high return investment for the state’s portfolio. After thorough review from financial experts, this is not only a very good financial move, but a stable diversification of our portfolio.” Although it won’t begin saving the cash-strapped state any money until after 2014, officials are again pushing a plan to merge the state’s two fiscal offices. Rutherford said he is backing the latest attempt to combine the treasurer and comptroller because one office would cost less to operate. “We need to be scrutinizing every dollar spent and looking throughout state government for savings, and this is a great place to start,” the Treasurer, who could lose his job due to the

merger. Rutherford says technology has changed since the positions were created in the 1970 state constitution. Relationships “I maintain an excellent working relationship with Governor Quinn and our other elected officials in Illinois, regardless of what political party they belong to,” said Rutherford, who claims confidence in being able to work together with the Democrats who control the Senate, House, and Governor’s office in the State. Former State Senator Art Berman, remembers that even in his first term as a State Representative, Dan Rutherford always had someone at his side ready to take pictures of his meetings with constituents. “Dan is a real people person,” said Berman. And, while he has not yet visited Israel during his world travels, Rutherford said that he hopes to make the trip and visit the country which now has Illinois’s largest dollar amounts of sovereign bonds. “I have always been a friend to Israel, now it is truly a privilege to have another safe investment in our strong ally”. It’s clear that Dan values his relationship with the Jewish community in Illinois. Jewish Business News Magazine will be closely watching how this newly elected state official tackles the many financial challenges that Illinois is facing right now and at the same time stands up for what he believes in. We plan to follow up next year and to report on his progress that so directly affects all small businesses in Illinois.
Simon Samuels is a freelance journalist living in Wilmette, IL. His works have appeared in many community and ethnic publications. To respond to this article, email Simon at simons@thejewishbusiness.com

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Corporate Tikun Olam
By Mira Temkin

The Jewish way of giving back

Anthony Berg, CEO of PayLessNow.com and Yana Nirshberg, Director of Marketing

Is there any higher Jewish value than tzedakah? The Torah is filled with directives to extend a hand to the poor and protect the disadvantaged. Moreover, our tradition instructs us to donate 10 percent of our income to charity. Here at Jewish Business News, we want to honor those small businesses that make charitable giving a priority. Look here every month for profiles of companies that are giving back to their communities and making the world a better place. To submit your business for consideration in this column, please email Mira Temkin at mt@thejewishbusiness.com. When Anthony Berg launched PayLessNow.com last December, he felt that making a charitable contribution from every sale was an important component of his business model. PayLessNow.com, an online coupon website that offers big savings from more than 365 merchants, boasts more than 180,000 subscribers in Chicago and other upcoming markets. So he decided to give 10 percent of all company profits to charity. What’s more, he allowed his retail customers – which include dining, entertainment, sports, beauty, automotive and travel – to decide how to spend the philanthropic dollars. “Merchant response has been very positive,” said Berg. “They like that they get to choose where the money goes.” Berg’s generosity has roots in his arrival to the United States. When he and his family emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1989, North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe helped the family settle in West Rogers Park by assisting them with jobs and helping send Berg to Jewish summer camp. “Because of what was done for my family when we first arrived,” Berg explained, “I understand the Jewish values of tzedakah and want to uphold this tradition.” In addition, Berg’s company also recently unveiled a new venture called “Biggie Saver,” which allows charities to sell a national discount card, similar to the Entertainment Book. The card offers 500,000 deep discounts in 12 categories at retailers like Target and Walgreen’s. For each book sold, 40 percent is returned to charities like Operation S.M.I.L.E., an organization that aids children born with facial deformities. Team Giving in Tandem Bruce Leon, owner of three Oak Brook-based companies, has created a culture of philanthropy that encourages employees to contribute their time as well as financial resources. He matches employee donations, gives paid time-off for volunteer efforts and donates to charities where employees volunteer.

Grossinger Auto Group hosted our JewishB2B Networking event in December.

Last winter, Leon’s companies—Tandem HR, Benefits Solutions Group and Alliance Workplace Solutions—sponsored a coat drive for the Chicago Chesed Fund, a Chicago-based charity that (among other activities) operates a clothing distribution center in Lincolnwood. His 65 employees were grouped into teams of five to collect coats. The winner, of course, was the Chesed Fund, the recipient of more than 550 adult and children’s coats. Participants earned gift cards and top collectors received a paid day- off for their efforts. “We partner with exceptional workplaces and want to motivate other small business owners and their employees to get involved with community outreach,” Leon said. “We are currently looking to broaden our philanthropic programs by spearheading a community-wide charity event this year.” Driving Home the Right Message Organizations scouting out a venue to hold their fundraiser need look no further than Grossinger Auto Group, near North and Clybourn Avenues in Chicago. Since last year, Grossinger’s 400,000-foot showroom has opened its doors to numerous charity events, free of charge. “We also help the organization with procuring food, entertainment, and other vendors,” said Ron Stone, business development manager for Grossinger. Upcoming events include a 400-person gala for Project Ladybug, a group that provides funds to children fighting cancer and other childhood illnesses, and a May fundraiser for Generation Rescue, an autism research organization founded by actress Jenny McCarthy. (Grossinger also welcomed Jewish B2B Networking, the parent organization of Jewish Business News Magazine for a networking event.) “We move the cars back and there’s a huge place for people to mingle and network,” Stone explained. “We’ve been doing two events a month now, but are committed to accommodating even more charity partners. We do whatever it takes to help organizations raise funds for their organizations.”
Mira Temkin is a Highland-Park based copywriter with both advertising and editorial expertise. Her articles have appeared in What’s Happening, Family Time Magazine and Chicago Tribune. She can be reached at mt@thejewishbusines.com.

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By Moshe Klein

The Six Month Business Check UP
b. Get rid of wordy pages c. Highlight your goods and services in no more than 3 -5 words each d. Ask 3 trusted business friends to give you an opinion about your site – and listen to them carefully In my opinion, a small business owner must be in control in order to be successful. Whether you choose to create a formal business plan or work off of notes in your binder, make a plan and try to stick with it. Don’t be afraid to change it midyear as circumstances warrant. Just have a plan. According to the Small Business Administration, one of the primary reasons that small businesses fail is poor execution, planning and internal controls. You have worked so hard to create a business that you love. You have invested time and likely a great deal of money into your business. Why would you not plan and care for your small business in the same way that you would for your children’s education or for your retirement? Focus a bit more time on planning and strategy – I think that you will quickly see the benefits in the form of positive business results.
Moshe Klein is an accountant and small business consultant. His firm, Moshe Klein & Associates, Ltd. is based in Chicago and services clients throughout the United States. To respond to his column, write to: mk@thejewishbusiness.com.

The year is half gone. It’s time to take a serious look at how your business doing. Are you on track to achieve your financial goals and objectives? Have you looked at your goals and objectives? Did you follow my guidance earlier in the year to create a budget with goals and objectives? Don’t sweat it too much if the answer to any or all of the above questions is NO. There is still time to create a financial plan and to execute to it successfully – but you really should act NOW. With only months left to make this your most successful year ever, let’s try to stay focused on the most important business basics: increasing revenue, decreasing operating costs, customer retention and ROI (return on investment). Here are some guidelines to help: 1. Create a simple budget a. List all forecasted sales b. List all forecasted expenses 2. Set achievable and realistic targets a. How many actual sales can you make between now and year end? b. How much revenue can you achieve between now and year end? 3. Contact all of your existing clients a. Are they happy and being serviced properly? b. Are there opportunities for additional sales? 4. Contact existing leads a. Networking contacts that have expressed an interest in your products or services b. Referrals from other clients or customers c. Cold leads that haven’t been worked in a while 5. Review staffing & payroll expenses a. Can you eliminate any part time positions or temporary helpers to lower your overhead? b. Do you need to add staff to service your existing client base or to grow the business? 6. Advertising a. Review existing ads for ROI (return on investment) b. Become active in your local business networking group c. Ask your clients for referrals 7. Talk to your employees a. Find out what they think you are doing right b. Find out what the staff feels the business could do better 8. Clean up the office a. Organize your desk, file room and supply areas b. Get rid of what you don’t need c. Get more of what you do need 9. Eliminate your “margin – killer” customers a. Politely end relationships that are not profitable for your company b. Don’t be afraid to make decisions that in the short term are tough but in the long run will benefit your business greatly 10. Clean up your web site a. Give your web site a fresh look
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Scott Forester

Employment Seeker

My motto: Helping CEO’s make their “vision” a reality. My work: CFO who does much more than just finance and accounting. What sets me apart: Understands “big picture” but not afraid to roll up my sleeves.

Some Basic Principles of Jewish Business Ethics
By Rabbi David Golinkin
In the United States, 2002 was the “year of the corporate scandal.” From Enron to Andersen, from Worldcom to Adelphia, CEOs have robbed their companies of millions while leaving their workers penniless and unemployed. These unfortunate events provide us with an opportunity to outline some of the basic principles of Jewish business ethics. It is no secret that the world of business presents both business people and laypeople with many ethical dilemmas and challenges. As our Sages said: “Character is tested through business” (Avot D’rabi Natan, ed. Schechter, version B, Chap. 31, p. 68) while the Mekhilta teaches (Vayassa, ed. Lauterbach, vol. 2, p. 96): “ ‘If you will heed the Lord diligently, doing what is right in His eyes’ (Exodus 15:26) - this refers to business dealings. This teaches us that whoever trades in good faith… it is accounted to him as though he had observed the entire Torah.” Our Sages, however, never limited themselves to aggadic statements in pious language about ideal utopias. They insisted on spelling out concrete laws and legal principles by which to govern our everyday lives. The following principles of Jewish business ethics will help teach us what pitfalls to avoid and what standards to strive for throughout the year. Ona’at mamon (monetary deception) This concept is based on a verse in the book of Vayikra (25:14): “When you sell anything to your neighbor or buy anything from your neighbor, you shall not deceive one another.” The rabbis of the Talmud used this verse as a basis for a series of specific laws on the subject of monetary deception (Bava Metzia 49b and 50b; Rambam, Mekhira, Chapter 12). They ruled that if the price charged was more than one sixth above the accepted price, the sale is null and void and the seller must return thebuyer’s money, while if it was less than a sixth, the transaction is valid and no money need be returned. Needless to say, these laws are relevant today. It is permissible for a Jew to make a fair profit; it is not permissible to price gouge and rob the customer blind. Ona’at devarim (verbal deception) This teaching is based on another verse in the same chapter of Vayikra (25:17): “Do not deceive one another, but fear your God, for I the Lord am your God.” Since the verse cited above had explicitly mentioned monetary deception, the rabbis concluded that this verse refers to verbal deception. Thus we learn in the Mishnah (Bava Metzia 4:10): “Just as there is deception in buying and selling, there is deception in words. A person should not say to a merchant: ‘How much does this cost?’ if he has no intention of buying it.” Let us say that Reuven goes into a warehouse outlet in order to buy a computer, but he wants a demonstration before he spends $1000. The warehouse outlet is not equipped for demonstrations. The salesman says to Reuven: “Go to the IBM showroom down the block and ask for a demonstration, then come back here and buy the computer at our low, low price.” Reuven complies and gets a free demonstration plus a discount. When Reuven asks for the demonstration at the IBM store, he has absolutely no intention of purchasing the computer there. He merely wants a free demonstration. The IBM salesman is being deceived. He either loses a real customer while waiting on Reuven, or feels badly when Reuven walks out on him after a half-hour demonstration. This is ona’at devarim, verbal deception.
Reprinted with permission from MyJewishLearning.com

Shelly Patoff

CEO, 3 Hearts Jewelery

My motto: Helping women feel good about wearing today’s hottest fashion and trends. My work: Seeking out the highest quality products at the best value for today’s women. What sets me apart: To give every women the jewelry to accessorize their lives.

Stuart Simon
Cantor
My motto: Actions speak louder than words. My work: Lead congregation in prayer and teach the younger generation. What sets me apart: Vocal talent, broad experience in religious life and the business world.

Locate these and other business networkers and create your own profile online at

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Protecting Your Small Business from the Impact of Inflation
By Jewish Business News Staff
The signs of inflation are everywhere. Rising oil prices on the open market have brought the cost of a gallon of gas to over $5.00 in certain cities for diesel and premium unleaded. Food costs are skyrocketing and gold as well as other precious metals are at historical highs with no real sign of let up in sight. Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve isn’t worried about inflation. Over the past year, the consumer price index rose 2.7 percent; six months earlier, the year-over-year gain was only 1.2 percent. Bernanke blames higher oil and food prices, reflecting temporary factors (the war in Libya, poor harvests) that may be reversed. The danger of an inflationary wage-price spiral goes this argument, is negligible because unemployment is high and pay is stagnant. Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin who heads the House Budget Committee, has been a vocal opponent of the Fed’s recent stimulus policy, which pumped $600 billion into the economy through purchases of long-term Treasuries. He said he fears the policy, known as quantitative easing, will cause inflation to accelerate rapidly, forming asset bubbles and crushing the dollar. “There is nothing more insidious that a country can do to its citizens than debase its currency,” Ryan said. If this trend continues, it could boost your small business’s costs and squeeze its margins. Now is the time to begin to address the threat of higher inflation and to develop strategies to protect your business’s bottom line. Here are some ways small businesses can fight inflation. Become an expert “trader” and use your business savvy to lock in the price of products and materials that you business uses regularly by signing long term contracts where possible. Lock in the price now before the value of your dollar goes down and the cost of materials goes up. This goes for your office or store lease as well. Focus on profit margin. Look very carefully at the cost of doing business and eliminate / reduce operating costs where possible. Sever relationships with low margin or negative margin customers and use the resources that you have to grow business with higher margin accounts. This is an excellent hedge against inflation. Small businesses are always tight on cash flow. And if their inputs of raw materials and other direct operating expenses go up, they may not be able to pass along these costs quickly enough to keep their cash flow positive. Managing cash flow is only one issue for small business owners. Raising prices is a difficult process for many as well. Every increase potentially makes a business less competitive, and raises the possibility that customers might go elsewhere. Since everyone will be experiencing inflation if it happens, small businesses will have a little more room to raise prices than they are used to. Since so many people are unemployed, the power of the consumer to absorb the price increases remains constrained. Prices may go up but if people aren’t working and the value of the consumers residential real estate continues to decline despite the value of other commodities going up, we will likely see two unconnected forces in our economy interacting and causing difficult circumstances for the small business owner. Even when the economy seems confusing and more challenging than ever, there are many things that we can do to combat its effects. Knowing how to predict economic change is a very important financial tool.

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No Longer the Treyfe Medina
“Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority” By Sue Fishkoff
Schocken Books, 2010, 384 pages

By Khane-Faygl Turtletaub Would you believe that Sue Fishkoff’s latest book, “Kosher Nation,” refers to the United States? This is the America the rabbis in Europe ranted against, the one they called the treyfe medina, the wilderness where keeping kosher was all but impossible. As Fishkoff reminds us, America was once considered hefker, a free-for-all in many aspects but certainly unreliable when it came to koshrus. She quotes Rachel Samuels, who wrote home to Germany in 1790 to complain about the sorry state of Jewish observance in Virginia. “I’m stuck here in Charlottesville, and there’s no Yiddishkeit [Jewish life]. The shochet doesn’t know what he’s doing and often substitutes treyf meat for kosher. I have to get out of here.” If those rabbis could see America now, they would kvell. Now it’s the “kosher nation,” and Sue Fishkoff has written a delightful and informative book explaining why the kosher food industry is growing at a phenomenal rate totally at odds with the relatively small number of Orthodox Jews who must eat kosher food to maintain their dietary restrictions. Indeed, it seems that Orthodox Jews are almost in the minority in seeking out strictly kosher food. Muslims, for instance, look for kosher meat when they cannot obtain halal food, and quite a percentage of the secular population, in these times of strange food additives, rely on kosher products for its perceived health benefits. The lactose intolerant, as well, can discern at a glance whether the product they are considering was made on dairy equipment or contains any milk byproduct. If vegans see the word pareve, they know the product contains neither milk nor meat. Food companies have taken note of kosher food’s popularity and have rushed kosher products to the market. Did you know, for example, that the production of kosher food is increasing at twice the rate of the non-kosher market? In 2007 alone, the “kosher” label was placed on more new domestic food products that all other labels, including “organic,” “natural” and “premium.” And it is the United States, Fishkoff writes, that “dominates” the global kosher market, releasing more than half of the 8,200 new kosher products launched worldwide in that same year. In addition, nearly one-third of all new food products in this country
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are kosher certified, Fishkoff writes, “including Easter bunnies and Christmas candies, items clearly not intended for the Jewish customer.” Each page of Fishkoff’s book is filled with such fascinating and quotable nuggets of information, items you’ll surely want to share with your friends. Chapter three, entitled “Big Brother is Watching,” describes the kosher meat wars in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood in the late 19th century. It describes riots that broke out over the pricefixing of meat and the protest of Jewish women in New York, who, enraged by what they felt was unfair gouging, reacted first by boycotting the kosher butchers and later “breaking into kosher butcher shops, dousing the meat with gasoline and setting it afire.” In chapter nine, I learned about the extraordinary lengths to which mashgichim [kosher certifiers] go to keep bugs out of celery, strawberries, cauliflower and broccoli. Who knew? And since time is money, Rabbi Yakov Vann, who heads the Los Angeles based Rabbinical Council of California, has become “obsessed with the idea of growing bug-free vegetables.” The Israeli farmers in Gush Katif, it seems, came close, “and now entrepreneurs in North and South America have been trying to replicate the[ir] success.”

‘The production of kosher food is increasing at twice the rate of the non-kosher market.’
This is serious stuff, but I laughed out loud when in the next chapter I read about Rabbi Grunberg going “to Tibet looking for a cheaper source of casein, a milk protein by-product that is used in food and pharmaceuticals. He found it among village yak farmers and set up a network to collect the casein produced from dried yak milk.” In short, whether you keep kosher or not, whether you ever thought about the subject or couldn’t care less, you will learn a lot about Judaism, food in general and the food industry from Fishkoff’s “Kosher Nation.” Fishkoff has no agenda, no ax to grind. Her reporting is factual and impartial, peppered with stories of knockdown, drag-out battles, even shootings, among ritual slaughterers and mashgikhim. We are no longer the treyfe medina but the “Kosher Nation,” and Fishkoff cogently tells us why. I was hooked from the moment I picked up this book. Dr. Khane-Faygl Turtletaub teaches at Northwestern University. www.thejewishbusiness.com

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