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At New Jersey expo, Satmar Chassidim conduct business with purpose

The event, which drew thousands, featured significant technology, despite the community’s reputation for having a strained relationship with modernity.

The bustling crowd of thousands at the second annual Zeh Mizeh Satmar Business Expo in New Jersey on July 12, 2023. Credit: Lanchevsky Images.
The bustling crowd of thousands at the second annual Zeh Mizeh Satmar Business Expo in New Jersey on July 12, 2023. Credit: Lanchevsky Images.

The sages informed King David early one morning that the Jewish people required financial assistance. “Let them go and support one another,” the biblical king told them, as the Talmud states in Berachot 3b.

That remark—Ze mizeh in Hebrew—is the inspiration behind the second annual Zeh Mizeh Satmar Business Expo. Thousands of men of all ages flocked to the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison on July 12 to interact with some 350 businesses exhibiting their products.

Joel Braver, real estate developer and organizer of the expo, told JNS that the Satmar Chassidic community has many young entrepreneurs. The expo is designed to help them interact with hundreds or even thousands of people in a single day, rather than running around networking all year.

“They’re trying to help each other,” he said of the expo.

One unique challenge—and opportunity—in the Satmar community is its breadth, according to Braver. “You sometimes don’t even know what your family members do,” he told JNS.

The expo affords opportune time outside of synagogues and centers of religious study to understand what family, friends and neighbors do financially, as well as to give them business.

At the expo, Satmar-led businesses hawked everything from insurance, mobile car washes, logistics and luxury travel to warehousing and real estate. Even King David would have been hard-pressed to imagine the technologies that would emerge from this particular community, which is not given credit widely for its technological prowess.

Getting a booth ready for attendees to the second annual Zeh Mizeh Satmar Business Expo in New Jersey on July 12, 2023. Credit: Lanchevsky Images.

‘Maybe we can help them run their company’

Sol Schiff, the CEO of Systech, told JNS that the Brooklyn-based, cybersecurity firm that he founded in 2014 has clients in more than 30 states and overseas. He first took on a partner in 2018.

“Since then, our company tripled in 2019, tripled in 2020, tripled in 2021,” he told JNS. “We doubled last year, and we’re looking forward to doubling again this year, with God’s help.”

Systech focuses on companies in the compliance space, including those that address the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and New York’s Department of Financial Services.

“We manage everything from start to finish,” Schiff said. “We take care of all IT needs, should it be procurement, help desk support and cybersecurity audits.”

Registration for the second annual Zeh Mizeh Satmar Business Expo in New Jersey on July 12, 2023. Credit: Lanchevsky Images.
Preparing for the thousands of attendees expected at the second annual Zeh Mizeh Satmar Business Expo in New Jersey on July 12, 2023. Credit: Lanchevsky Images.

Shloime Breuer is CEO of the website development and management company MB Tech Design. The company produces websites for e-commerce, estate agents and developers, among others.

Breuer learned his trade in Israel, where he used to live. His business, now a decade old, has seven employees and about 500 clients, he told JNS. Asked if there were special challenges to being a Satmar business owner, Breuer said he loves working with everyone.

Avrumi Kolman, a software developer with Goflow, a multi-channel software management product, told JNS that many people stopped by at the company’s booth at the expo. “People sound interested in getting a demo, and maybe we can help them run their company,” he said.

Goflow manages order and inventory for those who sell things on Amazon, eBay, Walmart and other marketplaces. “We ship them. We update the channels with tracking. We do the purchasing receipts, reporting, shipments, you name it,” he said. “Anything in the e-commerce industry.”

Talking shop at the second annual Zeh Mizeh Satmar Business Expo in New Jersey on July 12, 2023. Credit: Lanchevsky Images.

Baruch Schwartz, a salesman for the payroll tracking company Friday, told JNS that his year-and-a-half-old business employs about 10. Two of the company’s three partners worked in other payroll companies for years before seeing the need for an app tailor-made for small businesses, according to Schwartz.

“If you have a small business and you’re struggling with your payroll or your time tracking, and you want to know where your guys are, you can use our service to clock in, clock out,” Schwartz said. “It’s very simple and user-friendly.”

Shpeel Entertainment may have had the expo’s flashiest exhibits. 

The company rents out virtual-reality rides and games (the new clowns and bounce houses) for special events.

Samuel Kalman, Shpeel’s managing partner, told JNS his company’s wares connect to “screens, animal scooters, interactive games, pool tables and all kinds of gaming equipment.” The company has worked with organizers of carnivals, corporate events and Hanukkah parties, he noted.

As Kalman spoke with JNS, a co-worker of his wearing VR glasses rode on a device shaped like a surfboard. A screen behind him showed a mirror image of what he was seeing—a winding, dipping and diving trip on a roller coaster.

Not everything was so flashy. The expo featured businesses involved in warehousing, a mobile car wash, decking and graphics.

Equire, a loans and cash-flow company, featured dozens of dollar bills hanging from a tree at its booth. World Wide Plumbing Supply displayed an in-wall toilet system.

In addition to the technology on display were some good old-fashioned texts. Credit: Lanchevsky Images.

‘Caring and doing what’s right’

At the expo, some signage and conversation was in English; others were in Yiddish. And while business is business, many at the event said that Satmar businesses operate with an added purpose.

“If you don’t care about people and you’re just here to make money, you’re not going to make as much as when you’re really caring and you’re doing what’s right,” Mayer Kramarkshy, sales manager at MassMutual Financial Group, told JNS. 

“If you have the right mindset—if you’re driven and you do what’s right—you’ll be successful,” he added.

Schiff, of Systech, told JNS that every growing company—and particularly, fast-growing ones—faces challenges. But, he said, “as long as you have a good vision and a good mission, which should be about focusing on helping people, it doesn’t matter what position your company is in.”

For some of these million-dollar businesses, it’s also about disproving the growing media narrative that a yeshivah education doesn’t prepare its alumni for real-world success.

Sam Feder, CEO of Positive Tech Solutions, told JNS that he was a yeshivah boy who got married and then “got forced into figuring something out.”

He liked technology, so he and a friend (and then more friends) started an IT company, which handles operations and security for growing businesses.

“They trusted me and then from there, it blew up,” he said. “Fast-forward 18 years, and here we are.”

Braver, the event’s organizer, said a walk around the expo floor should rightly put to rest criticism in The New York Times and elsewhere of yeshivah education.

“Everybody from the news is welcome. Let’s start walking the booths,” he said. “You can see you have multi-million dollar businesses. We’re talking about manufacturing, warehousing, financials, websites, whatever … and half of our people aren’t even here yet.”

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