Baltimore Jewish Times: Ben & Jerry’s Co-founder On Doing Well By Doing Good

November 25th, 2011

Baltimore Jewish Times
By, Suzanne Kurtz
November 25, 2011

A scoop of Ben & Jerry’s may taste like heaven, and for company co-founder Jerry Greenfield, the business of making ice cream has a spiritual side as well.

“There is a spiritual aspect to business, just as there is to people,” Greenfield told a crowd of 300 last week at a networking event for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

The ice cream company known for its colorful pint-size containers, funky flavors and creative marketing has implemented smart business practices that have advanced its bottom line as well as its do-good corporate culture.

Raised on suburban New York’s Long Island, Greenfield, 60, and his longtime friend and business partner Ben Cohen met in gym class in junior high school after discovering a shared dislike of running track. They were chubby kids who always enjoyed eating, Greenfield said, and both attended Hebrew school and had their bar mitzvahs at the Reform Congregation of Merrick.

Though a self-described “cultural Jew,” Greenfield said that his religious education helped sensitize him to discrimination, marginalization and the needs of “other people in society and around the world.”

In his mid-20s, after being rejected from some 20 medical schools and not content with working as a lab technician, Greenfield split a $5 Pennsylvania State University correspondence course in ice cream-making with Cohen and embarked on a new business venture.

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