Jewish and Asian business leaders descended on Lord’s Cricket Ground in a new initiative bringing together the two communities.
Professionals from sectors including law, property and finance gathered on 4 November for a full day of networking and speeches at the inaugural meeting of the Asian-Jewish Business Network (AJBN).
Speaking at the event was Sir Lloyd Dorfman, founder of foreign exchange business Travelex and chair of Doddle, a retail business which enables customers to collect or return their online shopping from train stations.
Echoing Cohen’s speech, Sir Lloyd said he had experienced first hand the “close connections” between the two groups. “There are many similarities between our respective communities,” he said.
“As well as business, enterprise and commerce, we share an emphasis on family and community, a passion for education and aspiration, investing in the young and respect for elders, a combination of strong faith and ethnic identity alongside a proud of Britishness,” he added.
Similarly, fin-tech expert Ron Kalifa, director of payment processing company WorldPay, praised “the common traits that exist between our two cultures.”
Interviewed by business editor Candice Krieger, he said: “Many people across the Asian and Jewish communities have faced adversity. Adversity is a strength, particularly from a business point of view.”
Guest speaker Cobra Beer’s chairman and founder Lord Bilimoria described the UK as the “most entrepreneurial nation in this world” and a meritocracy.
“I believe anyone in this country can succeed regardless of race, religion or background,” he told entrepreneur Emma Sinclair on stage.
Lord Bilimoria told the audience of the warning he received from his family, who said he would “never get to the top” as an immigrant in the UK.
“I’m ashamed to say that they were right, and then I saw in front of my eyes this glass ceiling being absolutely shattered,” he added.
Also speaking at the event, BBC News Economics Editor Faisal Islam shared his father’s own tale of immigration.
“I’m only here as a second generation Brit whose dad came from India on a boat, and in a little sliver of history, nearly lost his new life by being lost in Suez, that is in the port rather than at the war,” he said.
“He then arrived in Manchester to work as an accountant clerk and he did pretty well […] The person that gave him his big chance was a very noted Jewish accountant called Yitz Jaffa, who decided to give him a chance to go up the management rungs,” he added.
Event organiser Russell Bahar said: “What a huge success. The day was filled full of networking, fantastic speakers from the business world and so much more.”
“The atmosphere was electric from when the doors opened and I would like to thank everyone who attended, our speakers and all our sponsors for all their energy and support that they have shown since the day AJBN launched,” he added.
Co-founder of the AJBN and News editor of Jewish News Justin Cohen said: “When we first came up with the idea for the Asian-Jewish Business Network we could never have imagined that within six months more than 400 people would be gathering at an iconic London venue for the inaugural event.
“It’s clear the appetite for this forum is considerable and we look forward to many more events in the coming years.”