Shehebar Sephardic Center has teamed up with the World Zionist Organization, Bar Ilan University, and Yudefang International Education Center (YCC Shanghai) to create a unique eleven-month educational program to train aspiring young Jewish entrepreneurs.  The program is called The Golden Leaves Institute, and is now in its second year.

Students in the Golden Leaves Program spend their first two months in Israeli (December – January) studying business leadership building, communal leadership, and Jewish ethics. The second stage of the program (January – April) is spent in Shanghai, China, where students learn about the Chinese business environment while enrolled in a vigorous academic program. Torah classes include Jewish Law in Business and Honesty in the Talmud. Secular classes include Business and Mandarin classes. Internships are provided for students throughout Shanghai.

The final stage (May – November) the students return to Israel. They will learn more about Jewish Law in Business and Derekh Ertetz Kadma Latorah, will take business courses, and will attend lectures and workshops from high level businessmen and entrepreneurs.

This year’s students are from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina and the United States. The students will spend the next five months in Shanghai at the Golden Leaves Center, which is situated on the Pudong side of Shanghai, a ten-minute walk from the Shangri-La, Four Seasons, Hyatt, and the Hilton.  The Center has kosher food, daily prayers, and a Shabbat schedule. Jewish visitors to Shanghai are welcome to spend Shabbat and join the students for prayers and meals.

The 10 students, now in the second stage of the program, will spend five months taking classes at Shanghai University. The students will each develop a project that will help them develop as future leaders.

Leadership classes are given by experts in their field,including Rabbi Tom Meyer (founder of Aish HaTorah in the United States), Roben Nemani (Senior Technical Consultant at Asncorp and an expert in conducting business with China), and Eithan Staples (a famous public speaker and producer).

With the help of community business leaders, each student is placed in a customized internship based on the student’s interests, in Chinese businesses. After the Chinese New Year (February 15th), the students were placed in internships in different companies for six hours a day. The focus is concentrated on exporting products from China such as clothing, home supplies, and car parts. Internships are also available at tourism and Internet companies.

While Golden Leaves participants are in China, Rabbi Eyal Cohen and Rabbi Yosef Shushan, a former Major in the IDF’s Special Forces, conduct classes, lead prayers, and work with Golden Leaves students in the university.

Four classes are taken at Shanghai Business School. Students choose from Mandarin for Business, Chinese Culture in Business, Business in China, and Marketing in China. Students earn three credits for each course. These college credits are eligible for transfer to other academic institutions.

On Sundays, students are treated to sight-seeing. They have visited places like Qibao, Yu Garden, and The Bund. In May the students will return to Israel to complete the program.

Golden Leaves will have two 7-week summer sessions from May 1 to June 15, 2016, and from July 5 to August 20, 2016. The summer programs will include seeing China from within, internships, Mandarin, and business leadership classes.