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Tuesday
Nov142017

INSURED PARTNERSHIP

Much water has flowed under many bridges since Dudi Farkash and Yossi Reinitz met for the first time in the Chabad yeshiva g’dola in Tzfas. Today, after the many twists and turns of life, the childhood friends have become successful insurance agents who combine a successful shlichus along with a good parnasa, which they see as an equally important shlichus. * Bitchu B’Hashem adei ad - Trust in Hashem forever.

By Zalman Tzorfati

The connection between RDudi Farkash and RYossi Reinitz began long before the two of them became successful insurance agents. Their friendship goes back many years, to the time they were in the yeshiva gdola in Tzfas. This was long before they knew what they would be going to do when they grew up

If you would have asked them back when the first wisps of a small beard had begun to grow what they would do when they were older, probably the last answer would have been “insurance agent.” The first answer, most likely, would have been shlichus.

A lot has happened since the two of them left the yeshiva in Tzfas. Today, they run large, successful insurance agencies and have promoted many joint projects in the insurance field. Their expertise is mainly in adapting insurance products to meet the needs of the Chabad community, but the two men did not forget their earlier ambition. Along with the insurance business, they leave a lot of room in their lives to give expression to the Chassidic soul, which is always interested in carrying out the Rebbe’s shlichus.

Yossi Reinitz lives in Beitar Ilit. In addition to his office hours in the insurance business, he devotes many hours to the community as a volunteer in Hatzala and Zaka. He is also particular to take part in the Rebbe’s mivtzaim and shiurim. When he meets with insurance agents who are not religious, he uses the opportunity to spread the Rebbe’s message about the imminent Geula.

Dudi Farkash lives in Monsey. After many years of living in Crown Heights, Dudi wanted a change in atmosphere. Little did he dream that within a short time he would become the Chabad representative in the neighborhood.

“When I arrived in the neighborhood, a Lubavitcher neighbor by the name of Yehuda Goldberg suggested we have a Chabad minyan in his house on Shabbos. The minyan grew until we ran out of space. We renovated my garage and built a beautiful shul for forty people. Within a short while we had reached full seating capacity. Now, every Shabbos we have forty people in seats and another 20-30 standing in the aisles.”

The shul, which is run by Dudi, attracts many young people who enjoy his style shiurim, and a k’hilla is developing. For Yomim Tovim, Dudi sets up a large tent which also fills up quickly.

“Working and aiming for an ample parnasa does not contradict being involved in learning Torah and spreading the wellsprings,” the two of them feel. “Today we see young married men who want to make money and shy away from shlichus. We don’t tell them not to make money; on the contrary, make a lot of it. The Rebbe wants rich Chassidim, but combine it with Torah study, mivtzaim, and promoting chassidus. Try it and you’ll see that it’s possible. Even within the business itself, while doing deals it is possible to combine it all; it’s actually a fabulous platform for spreading the wellsprings.

“My father, the gaon, Rabbi Yekusiel Farkash, frequently quotes the HaYom Yom of 13 Teves, ‘When you place a lantern, all who seek light gather round, because light attracts.’ When you illuminate, people gather round you,” says Dudi.

It would seem that shlichus is in their blood, because even in their chosen field of work they see a shlichus of providing assistance and doing chesed. “Every Jew has a mission from Heaven, for which he was sent to this world,” says Reinitz. “I think our shlichus is to make sure that as many people, Jews, Lubavitchers, shluchim, as possible, have life insurance. When we raise public awareness about insurance, and thanks to us another family is insured, another bachur got travel insurance before coming for Tishrei or on K’vutza, even if he didn’t get it from us, and in the end it saved them from far greater expenses, that makes us happy.”

One of the things that saddens them are the fundraising campaigns that are made for families who lost loved ones along with their source of support. “You see campaign after campaign, another head of the family, another mother of young children, another family in distress, a shliach who died young r”l. Think about this – with twenty or thirty dollars a month, you can get an insurance policy that will put your family on their feet if necessary. How much is that? Not much. And yet it can save you or your family with so much more than what you pay per month. I always fail to understand how so many people forgo this cheap and simple means to help themselves,” Farkash says sadly.

Reinitz shudders as he tells of numerous bachurim in 770 who don’t have travel insurance. “Instead of paying a small amount in insurance, if a bachur breaks his arm or leg he will need to pay thousands of dollars, and that’s just for starters. Insurance is for giving people peace of mind. You know that you can fly abroad, drive, take a mortgage, own a house, live, and if something happens to you, there will be a payment made if necessary.”

Farkash got into insurance after spending years in various businesses, making a lot of money, but feeling that something was missing. “I worked in many places, I was rolling in money, but there was no meaning in it, no people. I left business for chinuch but my family grew, thank G-d, and expenses grew, and I had to find a profession that would earn me more money. I looked for something that would give me a feeling of accomplishment, feedback that wasn’t only in terms of dollars and cents, and I discovered the world of insurance.

“With insurance, it’s not only that you work with people, lots of people. You impact their lives on so many levels. Look at the employees of the company – even they are impacted by my daily interactions with them, from the Chassidus shiur every morning, and even small things. Every employee in my office, Jew and non-Jew, knows to say l’chat’chilla aribber, and knows what it means,” he says with a smile.

“Insurance is something that enables a person to live. So many people have sat with me as I tried to convince them to buy life insurance. I try to explain to them what will happen if … G-d forbid. I’ve seen time and again how people schlepped, waited, did not send in a check, and suddenly they became sick, suddenly their spouse died, and they would have been able to continue in life with peace of mind and financial security if they had only made a timely decision.”

Farkash is a man of the world, a senior partner in an insurance firm, a sought-after speaker at professional conferences and forums throughout the United States, “and whenever I speak, I put a picture of the Rebbe up on the screen. At talks for insurance agents, people want to hear what is the source of your inspiration and the secret to your success.

“I show them the Rebbe’s picture along with a picture of the first Kinus HaShluchim and the most recent Kinus. I tell them that this is my Rebbe who made it his goal to care about every Jew, anywhere in the world. This is how the Rebbe is able to reach every Jew in the world so that today, Chabad is the largest Jewish organization in the world.”

***

“Do you know what part I think most people miss? It’s the fact that your insurance agent needs to be like you,” says Farkash.

“Listen, I’m just the shadchan. I am not the owner of the insurance company. My job is to understand every detail of every possible insurance policy and to know how to match each policy to the customer who needs it. The bottom line is that the insurance field is a very crowded one, and you need someone who has children like you do, who has worries like you do, who has a life like you do, who understands the needs and difficulties. You need someone who comes to your simchos, because that’s the only way you’ll know that he will be there for you in times of sorrow, lo aleinu.”

Reinitz shows a different angle. “If an insurance agent that you met by chance in the bank or that you met through a friend of a friend, will rip you off, he won’t need to answer to anyone. Think about it. Insurance is something you buy when you don’t need it. Other than a hypochondriac, nobody thinks he’s going to become sick soon or that his house will burn down. When things go wrong, the insurance agent is the only one whose job is to stand by his side. And if he’s from your community and he is not there for you, the entire community will know about it.

“We are not asking that you buy insurance from us. Just consider buying insurance from a Lubavitcher agent, someone who really understands you,” he emphasized.

***

“We grew up together, Yossele and I. We rejoiced together and cried together. We have families on shlichus and we are both in insurance,” says R’ Farkash. “We would sit and cry every time there was a fundraising campaign for another family, one day for a widow with seven orphans, the next day a widow with five orphans, all of them ‘ours,’ people we knew. Simply put, none of them thought about it or they made calculations over small sums, and now their families are facing financial ruin.

“If there are people who don’t care, I don’t want to try and convince them or talk to them. Why should I? I want to get those that simply don’t realize the significance to understand that it’s small amounts of money for a huge benefit.”

When we brought up the “Areivim” plans, Reinitz and Farkash explained the basic difference between help for a wedding and money that saves a life. “Areivim pays for the wedding expenses of the children. But what about the widow? What will she do about mortgage payments? With rent? Life insurance is not an extra; it’s a basic human need.”

“A Lubavitcher, not young, arranged to see me,” said Reinitz. “He told me about numerous debts and financial chaos. ‘My children don’t know anything about it,’ he said. Then he said, ‘Yossi, give me a solution.’ I arranged for an insurance policy that is structured similar to a mortgage, so that if, G-d forbid, something happened to him, the family would not suddenly discover that they owe huge amounts of money instead of getting an inheritance. After some time, he paid off his debts. But I haven’t seen many of Anash who have thought about things in such clearheaded fashion and really looked after their families.

“When you buy a house, the bank [in Israel] forces you to get mortgage insurance, life insurance that will pay what you owe the bank in the event that something happens to you. The same thing should apply to providing a livelihood for the home; you need insurance so that if something happens to the family providers or to one of them, the family won’t be financially ruined.

“It is very hard to lose a family member, it is hard to go and be menachem avel, but when you show up as the insurance agent with a large life insurance check, you feel you’ve saved people. And you know that often it’s a matter of bread and milk for the children for years to come.”

Both of them tell of people who canceled their policy or stopped payments or dragged their feet and suddenly discovered they were seriously sick, which made them ineligible to get any insurance.

“The name of the game and the most important part is personal responsibility, honest concern for those he will leave behind. He suddenly realizes he has no way of financially helping his family. There is a rule in life: When you don’t need insurance it barely costs any money, but when you need it, you can’t buy it. So we ask you: take responsibility for your family.”

TRAVEL INSURANCE

One of the most common occurrences is bachurim traveling to the Rebbe and forgetting to arrange for health insurance. “Even older people who are relying on the travel insurance linked to their credit card, need to know that it is not an ideal plan,” says Reinitz, “but at least they are traveling with something. There are so many bachurim who go for ‘K’vutza,’ for more than a year, and don’t think that they have to worry about health insurance. What are the odds that they will not need a doctor, even once, for the entire year? If you need one round of antibiotics due to a bad cold in snowy New York, you will pay more for the doctor visit than you would have paid for a complete policy that would cover you securely for the entire year.”

Together with R’ Shneur Rochwerger, who launched an awareness campaign about the need for insurance aimed at the bachurim, Yossi arranged for a policy that allows the bachurim to avoid all out of pocket costs, including co-payments, when visiting a doctor. “At a certain point, Shneur approached me in shock, as it turned out that about seventy percent of the bachurim are traveling without insurance.

“I recently spoke to a father of two daughters traveling to the Rebbe for Tishrei, and he was making sure that they had insurance. During the conversation, I understood from him that his son was also traveling. What about him? ‘He will manage,’ the father responded with absolute confidence. The problem is that travelers are not aware of the high price of healthcare in the United States. I had a client who developed appendicitis while on ‘K’vutza.’ Instead of him paying, we paid out almost 120,000 dollars! How do you think that bachur would have ‘managed’ without insurance?

“We approached the Phoenix insurance company, and arranged a highly unusual deal in terms of travel insurance norms. Generally, it is impossible to buy insurance to cover such a long trip, but now we can be covered, so look out for your kids and don’t let them get on that plane without insurance.”

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