Sustainable business practices examined in Calgary

Posted Friday, Jan 20th, 2012
Calgary Herald

Wisdom of the Ages on Today’s Economic Crisis

CALGARY — The uncertain economy, both on a global and local scale, has been on people’s minds now for a number of years.

And with continued debate about the future, the economy promises to remain in the public eye as a popular area for discussion for some time.

With that in mind, the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute in Calgary is presenting a new Money Matters course: Wisdom of the Ages on Today’s Economic Crisis.

“Failures in the financial industry have drastically changed the way we think about business,” says Rabbi Mordechai Groner, director of Calgary institute who will conduct six sessions on the topic.

“At JLI, we deeply believe that business should be a force for good, and that’s why we’re presenting students with timeless Talmudic insights into real-world ethical dilemmas,” Groner says.

The sessions will take place at 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday beginning Jan. 24 at Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta. A morning option is also available starting Jan. 25 at 9:30 a.m.

“In the recent few years, the concept of economy is really on the top of conversation in basically the world today,” says Groner. “And while we’re always trying to come up with ideas and solutions, and there are different competing ideas, it is important to bring to people the oldest and most relevant system that ever existed and exists: the Jewish legal system which is about 3,500 years old.”

Money Matters discusses the personal ethics of bankruptcy and freeloading, asking questions such as: After purchasing a ticket for a ball game, can you move to an unoccupied, higher-priced seat? If you ever have the money, are you morally obliged to repay discharged debt?

Questions regarding topics in social ethics — such as living wages, insider trading, chief executive compensation, and collective bargaining — are also addressed.

“Markets need morals, and morals are not made by markets. They are made by schools, the media, custom, tradition, religious leaders, moral role models and the influence of people,” British Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks says in a statement. “Jewish ethics has a long past and a massive resource of wisdom. That is why courses such as JLI’s Money Matters: Jewish Business Ethics are so important.”

Money Matters is designed to appeal to people at all levels of Jewish knowledge, including those without any prior experience or background in Jewish learning.

All Jewish Learning Institute courses are open to the public, regardless of religious affiliation, if any. Attendees also need not be affiliated with a particular synagogue, temple or other house of worship.

Interested students can call 403-238-4880 or visit for registration and other course-related information.

JLI courses are presented in Calgary in conjunction with Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta.

Groner says the ethics, which the Jewish system teaches us, guide our decision-making.

One of the big questions people have is whether the Torah supports the capitalist or the socialist view.

“The truth of the matter is . . . the Torah interestingly enough is the best of both systems,” says Groner.

JLI, the adult education branch of Chabad Lubavitch, offers programs in more than 300 U.S. cities and in numerous foreign locations, including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Venezuela.

More than 220,000 students have attended Jewish Learning Institute classes since the organization was founded in 1998.

Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta is at 28, 523 Woodpark Blvd. S.W. Cost of the program is $115, with a textbook included.

Here is the course overview from the JLI website:

Hot Tips: The Ethics of Insider Trading; By the Sweat of Their Brows: Wages of the Working Poor; Morally Bankrupt? The Ethics of Debt Discharge; State of the Union: The Right to Organize, to Bargain Collectively, and to Strike; Fabulously Wealthy or Filthy Rich? The Ethics of CEO Compensation; Buyer Aware: Another Side to Business Ethics.

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