After five days of discussing the future of the Jewish people, the ROI Young Leadership Summit came to a close in Jerusalem on Thursday.

Some 150 participants from around the world took part in the annual gathering, which included dozens of lectures, workshops and brainstorming sessions focusing on pressing issues facing the Jewish world.

Netaly Ophir-Flint, a vice president at the Reut Institute in Tel Aviv, and four-time participant at the conference, said this year’s event was marked by an increased interest by Israelis in the Jewish themes of the conference.

“Israelis sometimes don’t understand why they have to come to a conference on Judaism,” she said. “Many are still held captive by the old paradigm of Israeli egocentricism, the old notions based on the rejection of the Diaspora, but the reality has changed. Peoplehood has become more important and conferences like these are more appealing to them.”

The ROI Community, created by Jewish philanthropist Lynn Schusterman in 2005, has organized summits every year with the hope of stimulating innovation in the Jewish world. At the closing event, Schusterman took a moment to remember her late husband Charlie, whom she credited with inspiring her to get involved in Jewish activism.

She then challenged participants to convince her why she should continue to give.

“This place has given me the most constructive criticism I have ever experienced,” said Ilja Sichrovsky of Austria, who runs the Muslim Jewish Conference, an agency that tries to bridge gaps between religions.

“I’m taking away 150 new consultants and advisers as far as I’m concerned,” said Rebecca Stone of Encounter, a group which educates Jewish leaders on the realities of Palestinian life. “I think ROI is going to play a vital part in so many projects that haven’t come into fruition yet.”

“As an oleh, as a black, as a Jew, as an Ethiopian, I like to say thank you for being part of this community and to [ROI executive director Justin] Korda who personally approached me to take part,” said Shmuel Legesse of Shema Israel, a Jewish education group. “I felt empowered.”

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