Interview by Hani Lowenstein, Associate Director of Community Projects, OU-JLIC:
Moshe (Morris) Smith serves as the Chairman of the OU-JLIC Commission. Moshe succeeded Peter Lynch as the head of the Magellan fund at Fidelity Investments, at the time the world’s largest equity fund. After two years of great success, Mr. Smith announced he was leaving Fidelity and told the New York Times there was “more to life than money and management.” Moshe is both a legend in the world of finance and Torah. Since leaving Fidelity, he has immersed himself in Torah study, Jewish philanthropic work and spending time with his wonderful wife, children, and grandchildren.
HL: What advice would you give to religious college students who are interested in entering the field of finance?
MS: I would strongly urge them to major in college in a non-finance area as a stepping stone to an MBA in Finance. Many undergraduate degrees in Finance do not provide the job openings that are accessible with a finance degree such as an MBA. However, if you are able to get into a highly rated program in finance at the undergraduate level (Wharton School of Business for example), then go for it!
HL: As part of your role as Chairman of the OU-JLIC Board you have spent Shabbos at several campuses. Were these experiences eye-opening and if so in what ways?
MS: They have been fascinating. Each campus has its own dynamics and requires much thought before our placement of couples. I have been impressed by the commitment shown by the students in their organizational skills and their participation over Shabbat in the tefillot and the seudot. What has been most rewarding is to see how the students so much value our educator couples and think the world of them. The long term dividends for these students are immeasurable and their respect for the OU-JLIC Torah educators leadership has been great to observe.
HL: Looking forward, what is your vision for OU-JLIC?
MS: The vision is truly exciting. We have measured impact across many different factors and the results are tremendous. Students are not only “base lining” in their religious growth, but many are growing significantly in their commitment to Torah studies and Halakhic observance. An additional benefit has been our impact on kiruv which I think was unpredictable: we have a great reputation and have found many Jews who were lightly observant or even unaffiliated gravitating to our couples. We focus primarily on the day school market, but our reach is well beyond that. Finally, the success in our first campus in Israel at IDC-Herzliya opens up this market for future OU-JLIC couples. We have many campuses we would like to service in the USA and now we also have demand from Israel!
HL: Over 25 years ago, you decided to leave a very successful career at the Magellan Fund with the goal of focusing on things that you felt were more meaningful and important. Looking back over the past 25+ years, what accomplishments do you feel most satisfied with?
MS: Without a question, I am most satisfied that Hashem gave me an unbelievable opportunity to grow in my Torah learning and commitment to try to be the best “eved Hashem” that I can be. The amount of learning coupled with the incredible teachers of Torah whom I have benefitted from over these years have given me a taste of “me’ayn olam habah” in my day- to-day existence. I have always been a believer in trying to utilize my time effectively, and have been blessed with a wonderful wife and family that also leave time for me to pursue my learning goals. My choice to leave the Magellan Fund was without a doubt one of the best decisions of my life.