Entrepreneurship in Practice: Teaching Future Jewish Business Leaders

By: Jordan Herskowitz
from Golda Och Academy

Real-World Learning

Subject(s) of entry:
Economics/ Business

Blended Learning, Design-Thinking Model, Experiential Education, PBL - project based learning, UBD - understanding by design, 21st Century Skills

Grade(s) to which this was taught:

Grade(s) for which this will be useful:
9, 10, 11, 12, High school

Golda Och Academy’s 12th grade Entrepreneurship Course has enriched the lives of fifty students in the last 7 years who have gone on to become business leaders. The course assesses and analyzes leadership, walks through the steps of starting a business and has a practicum where students turn an idea into a realized business operating in school.

Entry Narrative

The Entrepreneurship Course at Golda Och Academy begins with a simple question: “What’s the next big idea?” Entrepreneurs have changed the landscape of business around the world. With a few dollars and a passion, anyone can turn his or her idea into a profitable company. But how do you do that? And how can you be a thoughtful business owner who leads with Jewish values?

This senior-level course begins with students defining, assessing and developing the skills of a leader and how those individuals take an innovative vision to  create important businesses and organizations within society. Students study the accomplishments and pitfalls of leaders, discover their own leadership strengths and potential and learn how to apply their leadership skills in an entrepreneurial setting.

Here is the Lesson Plan for the first class introducing Leadership.

A big focus on the Leadership Unit is on how our Jewish values play into acting as a leader. Through discussions and case studies, we look at leaders who have been open about their Judaism, and those who have not. The takeaway is how as young Jews they are going to lead – what’s important to them, what morals and values have they learned that are necessary to lead others. This article is a good starting point to jumping into this conversation.

The second part of the course walks students through the nuts and bolts of starting a business. From idea to inception, students learn the necessary steps to create a business that will be lasting and eventually turn a profit. The TV show Shark Tank is a great resource that we use in the class that brings concepts and jargon to life for the students. While watching, the students use this Shark Tank Follow-Along Activity.

This class is taught through lectures, case studies, discussions, exercises and project based learning. A series of readings provide context to class lectures and guest speakers add first-hand experience and knowledge to what students are learning in the classroom. 

Here are of the guest speakers with images:

Businessman and former South Orange mayor, Alex Torpey, visited the Entrepreneurship class to talk about his career, political activism, and the best traits of a good leader.

Alumni visit the Entrepreneurship class to talk about their entrepreneurial business experience at Northwestern, including their involvement in Tamid, a club that supports start-ups in Israel.

Adam Goldman, owner of eight local Dunkin’ Donuts’ stores, spoke about his career and the journey of being a businessman to the class.

Over the course of the semester, students will be able to:

  • Recognize, develop and refine their skillset as a leader
  • Work creatively and collaboratively to achieve high-yielding results
  • Understand their entrepreneurial potential
  • Identify and understand the for-profit and not-for-profit business models
  • Learn and practice the social venture model from idea to reality

The course concludes with venture capitalists from in and around New York City visiting the class and watching the group presentations. Each VC offers feedback and ideas to the group following the presentation. The students also complete a Final Group Presentation and Reflection Paper.

One of the most rewarding parts of having taught this class for a number of years, is the return on investment! Alumni reach back out to talk about business clubs and projects they are starting in college and start-ups they are working for post-graduation. Our Alumni Society featured an article about the course here.

Entrant Bio(s)

Jordan Herskowitz is in his eighth year working at Golda Och Academy. He currently serves as the Arts Department Chair, and throughout his tenure has assumed the roles of Director of Student Life (4 years) and Tefillah Coordinator (2 years). He teaches Entrepreneurship, Public Speaking, Playwriting, and Improvisation, as well as directs the high school play and musical each year. Jordan received his Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre with a Certificate in Judaic Studies from The University of Tulsa.