The New York campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion held the Goldner-Panken Symposium entitled “The Financial Crisis of 2008: What a Jewish Professional Needs to Know” on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. The Dean, Rabbi Shirley Idelson, introduced two members of the New York Board of Overseers – Kevin Penn, Managing Director of ACI Capital, and Howard Gellis, retired Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group – who spoke to students, faculty, and administration about different aspects of the economic state of America.
Penn explained how to interpret what is seen in the marketplace, and explained the black swan theory, which is a metaphor for the fact that things are viewed to be impossible until they are found to be possible. Penn offered a possible reason for the economic problems as being that “in a panic, rational people taking rational actions can create a crisis.” He also discussed currents issues in the economy.
Gellis spoke explained how the economic crisis relates to Jewish professionals. He reviewed the details of a congregation’s budget and explained income and expenses and what to cut when the budget comes up short. Gellis ended his presentation with some important advice for those going into a Jewish profession: find a good accountant who knows how the clergy’s financials work.
The symposium ended with a brief question and answer session.