Our Founders

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Mordechai & Chaya Mushka Ben-Shabat

Who are we?  Very simply, we’re parents who grew tired of an outdated educational system.  We are entrepreneurs at heart, business owners who have traveled the world to conquer near and far.  But all the success in the world means nothing if your own children are struggling. We are grateful for everyone who has worked to support our children.  This isn’t about trying to make sure your kid has a good teacher. This mission is about shaking up the entire system and helping to usher in a new era in education.  We are no longer willing to allow antiquated educational philosophies to fail our children.  It’s time to think outside the box.  It’s time to live outside the box.  No, it’s time to realize that children were never meant to be in a box to begin with.

And how come, in today’s world, where resources are so readily available, and Jews are experiencing abundance like we haven’t seen in 3000 years…how come thousands upon thousands of parents feel forced to send their kids to non-Jewish schools in order to get an excellent education?!  We are on a mission to create a reality where Jewish education is the benchmark for the rest of the world.  Why?  Because G-d’s chosen people should have the best in order to become their best.

 

Chaya Mushka’s story:Chaya Headshot2

The co-founder and CEO of Menachem Mendel Academy, Chaya Mushka Ben-Shabat is also a social marketing maven, professional development coach, and public speaker. The Texas born daughter of a Baptist preacher and a music teacher feels a deep personal connection to the Rebbe and to his universal messages of moral education and caring for people.

After earning a degree in marketing from Texas A&M University, Chaya, then known by her English name as Allison, took a job in corporate banking and started work on an MBA degree at Southern Methodist University. Introduced to direct sales by a friend, she dropped out of graduate school to build a sales business and she set multiple records in that company, including the fastest person ever to reach the highest position in the company.  Her talent at team building led to greater opportunities for mentoring women entrepreneurs and to starting her own business coaching women on the life-skills crucial for success. She led seminars throughout North America, produced marketing tools, and wrote a weekly blog to over 12,000 personal clients.

When Seacret, an international skincare company based in Phoenix, hired her to launch their direct sales line, Chaya’s life took an unexpected turn. All employees were required to attend an informal, weekly Shabbat dinner at the home of the owners’ Moroccan Israeli parents. At one such meal Chaya found herself sitting across from their youngest son, a yeshiva student visiting from New York. That intriguing conversation sparked a reexamination of her own faith and a fervent prayer to understand the truth of life. While in New York on a business trip, Chaya attended Shabbat services at Chabad headquarters.  It was her first visit to a synagogue. The inexplicable attraction and subsequent events prompted an amazing genealogical search that led Chaya to find she has Jewish roots and discover distant Sephardic relatives living in France.

Amidst this roller coaster journey of discovery, her first marriage ended, and she was learning to navigate life as a single mom. With her three-year-old son, she turned her life completely around to become a Torah-observant Jew, honing the skills of positive thinking, creative problem-solving, and resilience, accepting that everything is part of God’s plan. Remarried to Seacret co-founder Mordechai Ben-Shabat, Chaya spent several years traveling the world to help expand the family’s global business using her experience in marketing, sales training, communications, branding, and strategic planning.

Chaya’s commitment to elementary education grew from her six-year exploration of options for her own son, quickly labeled an “out of the box” learner.  Her vision for MMA is to bring together a global tribe of like-minded people who insist on excellence for the next generation.  Chaya says that the inner dimensions of Torah continue to change her life daily, and she is passionate about empowering others to shine their own special light.

 

Mordechai’s story:Moty Headshot2

Co-Founder and CFO of MMA, Mordechai Ben-Shabat has built several businesses from seedling ideas into profitable operations.  Along the way he has acquired experience in international expansion and global operations, including accounting, finance, compliance, legal negotiations, IT management, and strategic planning.

The oldest of 6 children, Moty was born in Israel to parents who emigrated from Morocco. He moved to the US in 1997 after finishing his service as a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces and immediately went into business for himself. His first enterprise was selling ice cream in Texas. The business grew quickly, and he brought over 2 of his brothers and his sister to help and their parents soon followed with the younger siblings. In 2001, Moty launched a new retail business selling toys during the holiday season as a way to productively engage his employees in the winter months when ice cream sales slowed. The business grew and developed to over 120 locations nationwide. In 2005 the Ben-Shabat brothers launched Seacret, their own line of skin care products, now a global skin care and nutrition company.  Today, Seacret (www.seacret.com and www.seacretdirect.com) operates in over 40 countries around the world with over $2.0 billion in sales and over $230 million in 2018 alone.

Seeking to invest their profits, Moty and his partners also founded a real estate development company, and from 2005 – 2007 they bought over 2000 apartments, over 100,000 square feet of office space, and a PGA-rated hotel and golf resort.  But after the real estate crash of 2008, the company was forced to sell most of the properties, and the partners had to rebuild everything from scratch. This massive blow became the motivation that fueled much of Seacret’s global expansion.

The great recession devasted Moty’s personal life, as well. In 2010, after a divorce and massive life evaluation, Moty began his journey back to Torah. He worked very hard to expand his global businesses while still investing hours upon hours learning Torah. Now married to Chaya Mushka, he has found that life doesn’t have to be one versus the other. Instead, he embraces bringing godliness into all the daily activities of business and family, serving others with a big smile, and sharing his passionate love of Hashem and the Rebbe with everyone he meets.

Moty is grateful to be able to devote his skills and resources to the mission of giving every child access to an education that empowers them to live a full life with passion and purpose.

With great privilege comes great responsibility.  We have a lot of work to do.  Come join us and let’s change the world together…one awesome kid at a time!

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