On Wednesday, May 25, in conjunction with World Trade Week, a pivotal forum and reception was held in the economic capital of New York City to unite manufacturers, importers, and exporters with government officials, consuls, and trade ministers from various regions.

Held at General Society Library in Times Square in Midtown Manhattan, the event, organized by the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, brought together high-caliber leaders from New York and New Jersey to help others, including many Orthodox Jewish businesspeople, navigate successfully amongst different communities, cultures, and nationalities.

The program began with a fruitful networking session that maximized the energy of the room by uniting business members with civic and trade leaders on a variety of governmental levels, as they jointly sought to share ideas and services aimed at continuing into the next era of exporting billions of dollars of vital products and services worldwide. The Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce has the unique capability to unite the world through commerce. The forum opened doors with individuals who had previously been unreachable to a layman, and allowed the governments to interact with trade ministers in a uniquely casual fashion.

The successful forum delivered on bringing a proactive approach to expanding trade ideas by taking advantage of the strengths within third parties and cultivating new bridges with governmental branches.

Next, an informative panel was held directly with heads of governments that brought about a discussion of information and guidance from those who have years of experience at the helm of the import-export markets. The panelists surmised that the mission of trade can unite the world in new opportunities.

The Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce has worked with the Turkish government’s TASC (Turkish American Steering Committee) to peacefully develop a broader relationship with Israel. In mid-September, Turkey invited the Chamber to sign an MOU (memorandum of understanding) in New York City in the presence of President Erdogan of Turkey. The document specified that Turkey would embrace the Abraham Accords and build on a relationship with Israel “based on shared values and solidarity in diversity.” Conversations with the Chamber and TASC helped discourage negative talk at the UN General Assembly against Israel. The recent forum used commerce to build bridges between the Turkish and Israeli counterparts for the common good of Turkish Americans and Jewish Americans, and to support relations between Turkey, Israel, and the United States. “It is an honor and privilege to use trade as a common denominator to bring governments together when politics have failed,” said Duvi Honig, president of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce. “You can literally change the world.”

Anat Katz, Israel’s Economic Minister, accepted an award. “It is a great honor to accept this award under this specific context. Peace through trade and economic ties is a shared vision,” said Katz as she spoke of a visit that day from the foreign minister of Turkey, which signaled ties were getting stronger.

The Turkish representative, who traveled from Washington, DC, for the event, emotionally accepted the award that represented the success of the joint vision of establishing peace through trade against all odds.

An award was also presented to the Guatemalan representative for continuing to show interest in trade openings. In her remarks, she expressed that there remains hope to develop joint projects and take advantage of the new prospects in the United States.

Other notables included Josh Berliner of Israel’s Economic Mission to the USA on the Eastern Coast; Dilipkumar Chauhan, Deputy Commissioner for the NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs; The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation, represented by its minister and consul general; Brian Teuber, International Trade Manager, Global NY Empire State Development; and Beth Rooney, Port Director, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

If there is one lesson, it is that trade is a link to peaceful government relations and bountiful successes. But it is best deduced by Mark Jaffe, president of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, who co-hosted the event with the Chamber: “We will never have true world peace until we have good trade.”

By Shabsie Saphirstein