Gary Torgow: Helping Mosaic United foster Israel-Diaspora ties

No. 37 on The Jerusalem Post's Top 50 Most Influential Jews of 2022: Gary Torgow, chairman of the Mosaic United steering committee.

 Gary Turgov, chairman of the Mosaic United steering committee. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Gary Turgov, chairman of the Mosaic United steering committee.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Earlier this year, the Israeli government passed a resolution modifying the way Mosaic United functions. A government initiative, Mosaic United was founded some eight years ago when Naftali Bennett served as Diaspora Affairs minister.

The idea was for the Israeli government to launch a fund, together with matching dollars from Jewish philanthropists, to be used to strengthen Jewish communities outside of Israel

The new change to the way Mosaic United works will enable the government to provide up to half of the funding for new projects, with the remaining half coming from a donor. Until now, it needed to be a third.

The change, as well as others that are soon to be rolled out, came under the direction of Gary Torgow, a Detroit-based businessman who has served for the last five years as chairman of Mosaic United’s steering committee.

Well known in Detroit for his business and philanthropic activities, Torgow is a key player today in Israeli-Diaspora relations. Over the years, he has forged strong ties on Capitol Hill, leveraging those relationships to help his local Jewish community, and beyond.

“We are enjoying, as a people, a historic renaissance in Jewish philanthropy, activism and scholarship. But we are at the same time experiencing a never-before-seen urgency across the broad spectrum of Jewish life around the entire globe.”

Gary Torgow

“We are enjoying, as a people, a historic renaissance in Jewish philanthropy, activism and scholarship,” Torgow said at a Jerusalem Post Conference in Jerusalem last October. “But we are at the same time experiencing a never-before-seen urgency across the broad spectrum of Jewish life around the entire globe.”

In addition to spending countless hours on Mosaic United, Torgow is chairman of Huntington Bank. He is a licensed lawyer with a degree from Wayne University and serves on the board of DTE Energy Company and as a director of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

 STUDENTS CELEBRATE Sukkot at Chabad at Texas  A&M University, a Mosaic United partner (credit: Chabad at Texas A&M) STUDENTS CELEBRATE Sukkot at Chabad at Texas A&M University, a Mosaic United partner (credit: Chabad at Texas A&M)

Huntington Bank is a $179b. asset regional bank holding company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, providing consumers, small and middle-market businesses, corporations, municipalities and other organizations with a comprehensive suite of banking services.

Currently, Mosaic United operates four different pillars.

The campus pillar seeks to strengthen students’ Jewish identities through tailored tracks and partnerships with Hillel International, Chabad on Campus International, and Olami. There is also the Shalom Corps track, which saw the creation of a global Jewish volunteer movement. Yisraelim is aimed at reaching young Israelis who live outside Israel through its innovative educational and engagement experiences provided by partner organizations. The Teen Travel Pillar, operated with RootOne through the Jewish Education Project, brings North American teens on meaningful educational trips to Israel.

With the challenges only growing when it comes to Israel’s relationship with the Diaspora, Torgow and Mosaic United will be called on to play an even greater role in the years to come.

“The miracle of Israel and its success... has expanded exponentially. Israel has become a resource for the entire world,” Torgow explained at the conference. “But it is a tragic reality that in the intervening time, somehow we have not adequately cultivated the commitment, imagination, loyalty and pride of the new generation in the Diaspora.”