It was an episode that went viral across the world: A Jewish immigrant entrepreneur who opened a magnificent café’ in Los Angeles’s Boyle Heights neighborhood saw his establishment boycotted and his customers harassed by violent, anti-Semitic radicals. Angry, radical mobs chanting vicious anti-Semitic slogans intimidated customers and even the local Chamber of Commerce – ostensibly due to “gentrification” and anger over pro-Trump social media memes shared by the proprietor, Asher Shalom.
The fires of hate burned. Mr. Shalom, an Iranian born entrepreneur, and his roughly sixty employees – most of whom are minorities and immigrants – suffered. While others were silent, Duvi Honig, Founder and Director of the Wall Street based Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, immediately sprang into action.
The Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce took the initiative and tapped into its powerful network to rally in support of this entrepreneur, who so perfectly embodies the American Dream. The message of support reached far and wide, throughout all corners of the country. Instead of hunkering down, a grand ribbon cutting ceremony – celebrating this great business and its employees – was scheduled for Wednesday, August, 8th.
The Ribbon is Cut
Indeed, the ribbon cutting ceremony was an event to behold. While masked demonstrators ranted outside, diverse business leaders and hardworking fathers and mothers celebrated diversity, cooperation and success.
At the ceremony, Duvi Honig along with several prominent Los Angeles area members of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee – Stanley Treitel, Dr. Irving Lebovics, Anthony Gordon and Estie Rand – hosted a VIP business networking roundtable to discuss economic development initiatives. They were joined by a diverse array of business and community leaders, including Daniel Masjedi of the Beverly Hills Synagogue; Bobby Spiegel of the Corona Chamber of Commerce; and Adam Smith and Paul Johnson, marketing gurus for prominent NBA players.
A large “ribbon” banner featuring the logos of Asher Café’ and the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce was cut. This banner was highly symbolic, as it was designed and donated by a non-Jewish Philadelphia resident as a show of support, after he learned of the event through social media. High ranking LAPD captains were presented with a special award by Mr. Honig and Mr. Spiegel – on behalf of their respected Chambers – thanking them and the department’s officers for their professionalism and dedication in protecting the café’s employees and customers from the hateful mobs.
“This is the unique value of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce,” says Anthony Gordon. “The Chamber uses business and commerce as the common denominator to build bridges and find solutions – rather than divide and story.”
While addressing the audience, Duvi Honig pointed to the diverse employees at the café’, stressing how hateful anti-business activities threaten a lot more than just the proprietor. “Do you want to be able to feed your family?,” Duvi asked. The employees enthusiastically nodded. “It is these hardworking men and women, single mothers and immigrants that those demonstrators are trying to harm,” Duvi observes.
Indeed, the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce has been working together with leaders and Chambers of Commerce of all ethnicities and stripes towards mutual success. Just a week prior to the café’ ribbon cutting ceremony, the Chamber co-hosted a business panel and networking event along with the African-American Chamber of Commerce in Philadelphia in honor of Lauren Simmons, the youngest female full timestockbroker on the New York Stock Exchange.
The bottom line is the Chamber mission of networking and collaboration to empower all. On the contrary, it is healthy and advisable to business ventures to be undertaken by individuals of differing experiences and perspectives.
Mendy Mirocznik, a lifelong Democrat who serves as the Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Alliance of America and as a member of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Committee, issued an enthusiastic message of support for the Chamber event in Los Angeles. “There is no room for hate, bigotry and discrimination in America. America as the land of opportunity must provide economic opportunity for all people,” he stated.
Thankfully, despite all the venomous noise of the dividers, Asher Shalom says that the ribbon cutting ceremony and the diverse show of support it attracted was highly encouraging. “It’s nice to see so many different types of people coming together – Jews and non Jews, Democrats and Republicans,” he observes. “It is clear that those who look to cause problems are in reality just a tiny minority.”
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