Religion in the Workplace: An Innovative Partnership Between JTS and Furniture Manufacturer

Two ministers, a priest, and a rabbi show up at a furniture store. No, this is not the start of a bad joke, but the beginning of a great partnership.

It all began in 1971, when City Furniture, The Ultimate Furniture Store in South Florida, started out as Waterbed City, the brainchild of CEO Keith Koenig. Fast forward to 1994. Now known as City Furniture, the company has an expanding number of furniture products, warehouses, and employees.

Speed ahead to 2007, and the innovative Koenig has another idea: to augment his employees benefits packages by making a spiritual counselors team—two ministers, a priest, and a rabbi—available to employees.

Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz, senior rabbinic fellow of The Jewish Theological Seminary is the Jewish representative on this spiritual squad. “I am thrilled to be a part of this team. It is a pioneering endeavor and it sends an important message about our lives. Religion can and must play a constructive role in our personal lives and in the workplace.”

Rabbi Berkowitz will be visiting City Furniture monthly to make himself available to those in need of counseling. In exchange for his time, City Furniture will be making a generous donation to JTS. The company has also offered its corporate offices and showrooms as meeting spaces for JTS classes.

“Study after study reveals that people want and need a sense of community and fulfilling spiritual lives,” said Rabbi Berkowitz. “I am so fortunate and excited by the opportunity to be part of this pioneering project in the corporate world that brings pastoral counseling into the workplace community.”

Visit the Florida Regional Office.