JLink Coffee Networking: Building Connections for Twin Cities’ Jewish Professionals

JLink, a group facilitated by TC Jewfolk, is for emerging and established Jewish professions in the Twin Cities. The online Facebook Group is a place to ask questions, network, get referrals, and post and find jobs.

Every month, JLink hosts a Coffee Networking Event, meetups designed to foster connections, share opportunities, and support career growth within the community. Stay up to date with upcoming meetups on the Community Calendar.

The origins of JLink trace back to an initiative started by Josh Awend, a local business owner, in 2014, originally named “Gesher” – Hebrew for “bridge.” 

Awend saw a gap in Minneapolis’s Jewish community for a business-focused group and decided to fill it. “I started it on my own, really. I wanted to do a Jewish networking meetup in town and there wasn’t one really in place,” Awend said.

“I think it’s a really good resource for the community. It has led to jobs. It has impacted people’s lives.”

Along with two other local Jewish business owners, he organized meetups in various business settings, featuring talks from established business figures to inspire and educate younger professionals.

Eventually, as the group grew, Awend partnered with TC Jewfolk, who rebranded the group as JLink. Under TC Jewfolk, JLink continued to thrive as an online group and through monthly networking events. 

Effie Cohen, a board member of TC Jewfolk and a regular attendee of JLink coffees, emphasized the support and sense of community felt at the events.

“When I’m part of this group, and I’m introduced to a new person, my brain really thinks about how I can help this person with their needs,” she said.

Alon Ventura, another active board member and a commercial real estate broker, discussed the evolution of JLink Coffees.

“We found that coffee was more successful in the morning than getting people at 5 o’clock to drink some beer,” he said.

He assured newcomers that they could expect a relaxed atmosphere. “It’s basically real casual. You get there, everybody gets their coffee, and then we just start introducing ourselves and talking to people.”

Genevieve Parker, TC Jewfolk’s Community Engagement Manager, illustrated the impact of JLink through her engagement with community members. 

“Matthew is someone who attended a JLink event. At the event he mentioned that he was looking for more information. [I said], great, I can give you more. Here’s my contact info.” 

This initial interaction led to a meeting for coffee, where Parker shared a wealth of resources including insights into local synagogues, a job lead, permission to post his job search on JLink, and a personal invitation to the next Shabbat In The Park near his home. 

Matthew voiced his gratitude for the community and support: “Once I’m all situated, I’d love to give back to JLink because I want to give back to the group what I can offer.” 

Looking ahead, JLink aims to increase its online engagement, encouraging more members to use the platform for business discussions and community support. “I’d like for more people to use the platform to ask for help or discuss things,” Awend said.

The next meetup is scheduled at Angel Food Bakery in St. Louis Park, where participants can enjoy warm beverages and pastries while networking with up-and-comers, mid-career professionals, and workforce veterans. The event will take place on May 28, from 9-10 a.m. Attendees are encouraged to come prepared to discuss their professional experiences and community needs. For details, go to the Community Calendar Event and join JLink on Facebook.