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Even the blistering heat could not diminish the excitement in the air at Safra Square as over 120 young Jewish leaders from 23 different countries gathered in Jerusalem Monday for a weeklong summit.
The event is being co-directed by The Center for Leadership Initiatives, founded by philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, and Taglit-Birthright Israel. "The aim of the summit is to promote innovation in the global Jewish community, while developing the participantsâ€š managerial and innovation skill," Schusterman said.
"Our assumption is that the participants' exposure to each other will foster contacts and promote extraordinary networks of collaboration." Those chosen to attend by a select committee were described as "excellent innovators who have succeeded in implementing projects on local and global levels."
Noam Dolgin, Executive Director of Green Zionist Alliance, described his excitement for the summit, saying it allowed him to combine his two passions - the environment and Israel.
Dolgin works across the United States to raise awareness of Israel's environmental problems, which he claims are the most pressing issue facing the Jewish state.
Javier Gelbwaser was thrilled to attend the conference to meet and share ideas with like-minded young Jewish leaders. A native of Mexico, Gelbwaser helped bring Birthright to Mexico. He is also involved with a program that enables non-Jewish students from Mexico to study in Israel at a seminar called Coexistence in the Holy Land, and is looking to expand the program to other countries.
One of the focuses of the conference is to help the participants build skills that will allow them to take the knowledge they gain in Jerusalem back to their home cities.
The participants were divided into five tracks based on their areas of expertise - community service; environmental activism; content delivery; youth programs; and Israel advocacy.
Each track will be guided by a specialist in that particular field, such as Eytan Schwartz, the winner of the Israeli reality show The Ambassador. Schwartz will lead sessions on Israel advocacy.
The sessions will give the young leaders an opportunity to share tips and techniques, allowing participants to learn not only from the moderator, but also each other. In addition to sharpening their expertise, participants will partake in multiple service projects throughout Jerusalem.
It is important that the participants connect to the city and its culture, summit moderator Lindsay Litowitz stated.
"They need to not just talk, but... do." This seems to be the appropriate motto for youth leaders who have proved that they know how to "do," not only in Jerusalem during the summit week, but worldwide.