13 May Alumni Spotlight: Stuart Fried
Alumni Spotlight on Stuart Fried
After picking avocados and learning Hebrew in an Ulpan on a Kibbutz near Hadera, Stuart Fried started looking for something a little more meaningful to do while in Israel. He somehow heard about Aharon and Livnot. “I liked the idea that we’d be building, doing community service and learning Judaism in different ways. It sounded more fulfilling.” But having been Bar Mitzvahed and Confirmed, in addition to being on the older end of the age range of participants for the program, Stuart was not really the ideal candidate for Livnot. Aharon explained to him that he might have too much of a background in Judaism to get a lot out of the program. “I understand but I’m open to learn,” was Stuart’s response. Not long later he was in a friend’s car on his way to Tzfat.
Twenty years ago, Stuart Fried spent eleven weeks at Livnot U’Lehibanot in Tzfat, Israel. All this time later he can describe exactly how the campus looked and where it was situated in almost perfect detail.
He learned a lot while at Livnot that he still finds relevant for himself today. While he still remembers a lot of the Torah stories that Rabbi Yehoshua Kahn taught — it was the community service, hiking, and relationships that he developed during Livnot that he keeps closest to his heart. While sharing some of his memories from Livnot, Stuart said, “I have an appreciation for the soul and heart of Judaism because of Livnot.”
High from the rush of his Livnot experience, Stuart continued keeping kosher and started studying at Aish HaTorah after returning to America. Try as he might, he could not find meaning in these practices. “Culturally and socially being Jewish resonates with me. I appreciate what it means to be a Jew, and although I don’t find a lot of meaning in the religious practices, I appreciate what we have and what it means to be Jewish. There is a richness in our history that is unmatched.”
Stuart works with JVS (Jewish Vocational Service) which provides free job search assistance including career transition and career change, resume review and preparation, job search strategy and methods, interviewing skills, salary negotiation, and more. JVS is located throughout the United States, but Stuart specifically works in the Los Angeles, CA area. He has more than 30 years experience in career coaching, recruiting, workshop facilitation and corporate HR.
According to Maimonides, the highest level of charity is helping others to help themselves, which is what Stuart does for a living. Stuart is a Career Specialist, Job Search Coach, and a LinkedIn specialist. “It’s hard to know what kind of an impact I am making. I expect a lot of myself and therefore of others. My job is fulfilling, challenging, and frustrating.” Stuart works with people from ages 20 all the way up to 80. “It’s a challenging job market right now. It is very fulfilling when people find jobs. When they land, it’s great for them and satisfying for me.” Stuart has a client load of about 20 – 25 clients with JVS and also runs a job club out of a local Chabad. “There we discuss, share, support and learn together, and we make new friends.”
Recently after an emotional family event, Stuart and his daughter lit Shabbat candles at home for the first time.“Now I’m in a place in my life where I do things as long as they have meaning or I don’t do them. I want to start trying to make Shabbat feel a little bit different from the rest of the week and make it meaningful. Shabbat and my Judaism are beginning to mean more to me now.”
“Livnot was an incredible experience — it’s a great program and life experience. Find ways to make things meaningful when you go home. Tell everyone about Livnot and what you learned there. Be part of the Jewish community. Support the Jewish community. Do something meaningful. Life is not all about title, wealth, and possessions. It’s about making a difference in the world. Whether or not you are religious, it is important to be a part of the community, especially the Jewish community – I gained a lot of that from my time at Livnot.”
~ Stephanie Lees