More than 150 Jewish investors gathered in San Francisco for a Shabbat discussion at the end of SOCAP, an annual conference on “impact investing.” Wexner alums besides myself, the event organizer, included Don Abramson (WHA, SF2), David Arfin (WHA, SF3), Vanessa Bartram (WHA, Miami 11), Matt Gershuny (WHP, SF 14), Estee Solomon Gray (WHA, SF3), Doug Mandell (WHP, SF 14), Toby Rubin (WHA, SF2), Aviva Sufian (WGF, Class 14), Wendy Verba (WHP, SF 14), Kevin Waldman (WHA, SF 11), and panelist Daryl Messinger (WHA, Palo Alto) who represented the Reform movement’s pension plan – the first institution to create a Jewish values investment policy. Breakout sessions focused on the use of investment capital to protect the environment, alleviate poverty, and support Israel.

If you’ve never heard of “impact investing,” you will soon.  The concept of making money while helping the world is a growing global movement. Younger generations are particularly excited by investment and business ventures that offer positive social and environmental impact. 

Academic research overwhelmingly dispels the myth that investors must sacrifice financial returns when incorporating values in their investment decisions. As Goldman Sachs explains: “The investment industry’s approach to considering social factors in the investment process has undergone a paradigm shift. ESG-related factors (Environment, Social, Governance) can be a material driver of risk and return and need to be incorporated into the investment process.”

Unfortunately the Jewish community’s absence in the field has allowed anti-Israel activists to thrive by using the tools of shareholder activism and divestment against Israel. As more Jewish investors engage in “impact investing,” they can become shareholder advocates for the fair treatment of Israel.  They will also find an inspiring new way to showcase the Jewish value of tikkun olam through their investment portfolios.  

If you are interested in learning more, please email me. Additionally, if you’d like to take a survey many of the attendees participated in, please click here.

Julie Hammerman, a Wexner Heritage alum from East Bay 10, is the Executive Director of JLens, an investor network engaging the Jewish community on impact investing through a Jewish lens. JLens consults to Jewish institutional investors, and is developing the first Jewish mutual fund (share your input by taking this short survey). You can follow JLens on Twitter and Facebook  and contact Julie at