(photo credit: Adi Cohen)
The future of the Jewish people will be debated by 150 young Jewish leaders from
all walks of life at a five-day annual conference in Jerusalem that begins on
Jewish authors, innovators, artists and entrepreneurs from 25
countries will take part in the ROI Global Summit for Young Jewish Innovators to
exchange ideas and opinions on the issues shaping the Jewish world.
as an organization assembles a network of young innovators and brings them
together to create a Jewish future,” Justin Korda, the executive director of the
ROI Community, said on Friday.
ROI was created in 2005 with funding from
the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Bernie Marcus
Foundation, and in partnership with Taglit-Birthright. Since then, more than 600
alumni have gone on to create initiatives and projects directly inspired by the
“One great example I like to give is a group of ROI’ers who
managed to form a collaboration of 17 participants and launched a website called
Jewcology,” Korda said. “It connects anything between Judaism and
Another example, he said, is G-dcast.com, spearheaded
by Sarah Lefton, a digital media producer and Jewish educator.
mission is to raise the bar of Jewish education around the world and put
together Torah portions every week. Our goal in all these cases is to offer
members a strategic network and support group – people who will help each other
achieve those goals more effectively.”
Another alumna who benefited from
the ROI summit is Netaly Ophir-Flint, the vice president of the Reut Institute,
a policy group in Tel Aviv. In 2008, she took part in the gathering for the
first time and was so impressed she comes back every year.
“One of the
things that happened to me in 2008 was that the penny dropped, and I started
asking myself what my responsibility is not only towards Israel but to the
Jewish world, and that influenced my work at Reut,” she said.
other responsibilities, Ophir-Flint now heads a team at Reut thatfocuses on global Jewish issues. In that capacity she helps draft reports on the
big issues affecting the Jewish world and works with several major Jewish
organizations like the Jewish Agency for Israel to advance reform.
many of my basic assumptions about the Jewish world burst in 2008, and that’s
been with me ever since,” she said. “I was much more introspective and focused
on how to strengthen Israel. The big change has been in asking what our role as
Jews in Israel should be vis-à-vis world Jewry.”
Over the course of the
five-day period the 150 carefully-selected participants – a third from Israel, a
third from the US and a third from the rest of the world – will engage in
workshops and attend lectures by parliamentarians, businessmen and
“What really made the difference is the participants being in
an intensive program for five days with quality people, young professionals and
all sorts,” Ophir-Flint said. “As [Lynn] Schusterman says, ‘Just get them in the
same room and things happen.’” In the future, Korda said ROI will launch a new
platform where ideas for Jewish innovations could compete against one another
“in a friendly way.”
He also said he hoped the ROI community would grow
to include 1,000 members in its fold.
“We’re the glass half-full people,”
Korda said. “A lot of the Jewish world does a lot of work on things like
negative trends and assimilation work, but we like to focus on the optimistic