Author Chat with Scott Shay: Achieving Jewish Identity in a Successful Career 

By: Amalya Teitelbaum  |  April 29, 2021

By Amalya Teitelbaum, Business Editor & Social Media Manager

When students graduate from Yeshiva University, many of them have the same question on their minds. How will I continue to incorporate Judaism into my career and everyday life? Sy Syms got the honor of hearing the answer from a leading businessman, Scott Shay.

Scott A. Shay serves as Chairman of Signature Bank which he co-founded in 2001; the bank has become one of the best banks in New York for private business owners. Since 1980, Mr. Shay has been involved in the investment banking and venture capital industries. Mr. Shay has been Managing Director/Partner of Ranieri Strategies LLC and its predecessors (“Ranieri”) and a partner of Hyperion Partners since 1988. Before joining Ranieri/Hyperion Partners, he served as a director and a senior member of the mergers and acquisitions department of Salomon Brothers, Inc. 

On top of being very successful in business, Scott is the author of two books. His second book, “In Good Faith: Questioning Religion and Atheism”, has been recognized as one of the best books of 2018 by Mosaic Authors and earned a finalist award from National Jewish Books. This book examines atheist arguments against religion with a modern eye while exploring the relationship between reason and religion. Mr. Shay’s first book “Getting Our Groove Back” ponders and proposes ways to reintroduce American Jewry. How does one at the top of the Wall Street pyramid have the mindset to sit down and ponder this? When asked Mr. Shay replied,

“So I’m one of the many people that feel like the Jewish people were put here for a purpose not just to make more Jewish people not just to propagate our own. I think we were here to be a vehicle for the nations to be blessed and to bless the nations, which means taking an active part in the world and I very much have been worried for years about the Jewish community and whether we’re fulfilling our mission. I think being Jewish means for me we have the opportunity to make this planet a better place and how do we do that while we maintain our Jewish particularism? By having a strong Jewish identity and engaging with the outside world and to me that’s been the central card, the central coupling that I’ve tried to do throughout my life.”

Yes, our mission as Jews, as a guiding vehicle in this world is not only to have a strong Jewish identity but to engage in the outside world as well. Our Judaism is core to who we are and we all aspire to lead successful careers in the outside world. It is important to do these two things not only in a way where they don’t conflict but in a way where they wholesomely complement each other. 

Scott concludes with his Golden Rule as he called it in his books. Don’t do what to someone else which you wouldn’t want to be done to you. He uses this to talk about how Jews should approach observing melachot (commandments) such as keeping Shabbos, Yom Tov (Holidays), Chol Hamoed (intermediate holiday days), and fasting on fast days — if you took off work, to always repay that favor. Don’t take off for Shavuot, a day that is important to us, then go take off Christmas which is important to other people. People always remember this, and it goes a long way.