Teenager promotes socially responsible investing

Teenager promotes socially responsible investing

Zachary Mandell of East Brunswick has begun a socially responsible investors’ club based on Jewish values. Photo courtesy Zachary Mandell
Zachary Mandell of East Brunswick has begun a socially responsible investors’ club based on Jewish values. Photo courtesy Zachary Mandell

Zachary Mandell may be only 15, but he is already an investor with a conscience.

After discussing his ideas with his rabbi, Bennett Miller of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, the East Brunswick High School sophomore came up with a plan whereby both teens and adults can invest their funds in companies that are socially responsible and supportive of Israel.

“As Jews, we have a responsibility to apply our Jewish values and ethics to the way we invest in businesses that affect society,” said Zachary. “I also want us to research whether socially responsible U.S. companies are hurting or benefitting Israel.”

On Wednesday, Dec. 8, the investors’ club will hold its first meeting at Anshe Emeth. Over time, Zachary said, he anticipates garnering advice from professionals in the field, and urging group members to select several socially responsible companies based on agreed club standards.

“We want to see who’s interested,” he said. “We have a lot of stockbrokers or hedge fund managers in the temple and in the community.”

He said they found a few colleges and high schools around the country that have similar clubs but none in Middlesex County or even New Jersey.

Zachary’s father, Craig, is on the synagogue board, and his mother, Beth, is on its religious school committee. His grandmother, Susan Mandell, who, he said “has had a huge effect on my Jewish identity,” is a former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.

Zachary has been a member of the J Team, the federation’s teen philanthropy program. Participants contribute $125, which is matched by the federation and doubled by the Karma Foundation. After researching various nonprofits, participants make allocations to several charities.

“I learned that a nonprofit and a socially responsible company’s functions are similar and that some companies help to fund these nonprofits,” said Zachary. “Some companies were on multiple lists for supporting nonprofits. Some CEOs of major companies were on their boards. We really want to invest in companies that help our country and Israel. As Jews we have to take care of the world. We are the stewards of the world.”

Miller will sit on the club’s advisory board along with two successful businessmen from the synagogue, Len Littman and Lee Livingston, who is also immediate past president of the federation. Other teens are being recruited to sit on its main board.

“I think a lot of young people over the course of their lifetimes will be involved one way or another in investing, and it would be great if it were based on Jewish values,” said Miller.

(The investors’ club will meet the second Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick. For information, contact Zachary Mandell at zdman31@yahoo.com.)

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