Ed Hajim’s life did not get off to an auspicious start. Born into the Depression, kidnapped by his father at age three and told (falsely) that his mother was dead, Hajim lived in more than 15 foster homes and residential facilities before he reached age 18. When thinking about the instability and hardship he’d been forced to endure, the young Hajim often asked, why me? 

Fortunately, at the final two facilities in which he lived, the Israel Orphan Asylum and the Hebrew National Orphan Home, both of which later became part of JCCA, things began to stabilize. Hajim considered how to use his ambition, intelligence, and tenacity to better his life. 

The story that comes next is no less remarkable. After college and a stint in the Navy, Hajim attended Harvard Business School, where he found his calling in the field of finance. Over his 50-year career, he led several major investment firms and, no less importantly, found joy in forming a family of his own. It’s no surprise that Hajim learned some valuable lessons along the way, and more than half a century after his time in JCCA’s care, he returned to share those lessons with young people going through some of the same things he once did. 

The occasion for his visit to the Pleasantville campus was the release of his recent book, The Island of the Four Ps, a synopsis in fable-form of Hajim’s advice in how to design a life of fulfillment and purpose. The book considers success not just in terms of making a living, but of making a life. In his presentation Hajim was open and warm, passionately driving home several key points: anything is possible; education is the answer to almost everything; disadvantages now often turn into advantages later; find someone to love.  

Despite the many years separating their shared experiences, the campus residents in attendance were clearly captivated by Hajim’s story, asking a number of thoughtful questions and eagerly waiting to have their copies of The Island of the Four Ps signed by the author.