JYP Forum: Helping Jerusalem's young hi-tech professionals

The group wants to attract young professionals (native Israelis, English-speaking immigrants and others) and connect them with the city’s wider business sector.

 MARC FAUST: We are creating a community. (photo credit: MARC FAUST)
MARC FAUST: We are creating a community.
(photo credit: MARC FAUST)

Today, it goes without saying that Israel is a global hub for technology, innovation and start-up investment. Yet, while this reputation stemmed from the country’s Center, tech leaders in Jerusalem have seen their city catching up with Tel Aviv, with a growing need for young entrepreneurs, software engineers, marketing specialists and more.

“There are lots of talented people with the right skillset in Jerusalem; it’s just a case of connecting the right people with the relevant companies and organizations,” explains Marc Faust, founder and chairman of Jerusalem’s Young Professional (JYP) Forum, a new social organization that holds networking and speaker events for the capital’s up-and-coming community.

“There are lots of talented people with the right skillset in Jerusalem; it’s just a case of connecting the right people with the relevant companies and organizations.”

Marc Faust

On December 1, they will host their first Nachlaot networking event with the Jerusalem City Center Community Council. The event, to be held at the Lev Ha’ir Community Center in the Ohel Moshe section of Nachlaot; it will feature two leading young Israeli executives as well as three networking sessions, in addition to refreshments and entertainment. 

A network for young professionals in Jerusalem

The group wants to attract young professionals (native Israelis, English-speaking immigrants and others) and connect them with the city’s wider business sector in the hope that this will create new opportunities. Aliza Rynkiewicz, director of immigrant affairs at the Lev Ha’ir Community Council, said: “I have personally seen the rise in young professionals coming to Jerusalem. We know that in Nachlaot and around the center of Jerusalem, there is a need to gather and promote more business-based events.”

Faust, originally from Parkland, Florida, made aliyah to Jerusalem in 2017. He described the forum as a “social club” organization and is “optimistic about its potential for Jerusalem’s young professionals.”

 MATANA BRACHA ZWIREN, CEO of MBZ Marketing & Social Media. (credit: MBZ) MATANA BRACHA ZWIREN, CEO of MBZ Marketing & Social Media. (credit: MBZ)

Recent media coverage suggested the country’s hi-tech boom may be tapering somewhat. In light of this, Faust believes that the forum is well-placed to help people develop the resilience and tools to compete for jobs.

“We are not just gathering young professionals, but are creating a community,” he observed. “We can pick each other up when things are tough. We believe that the JYP Forum will create both strategic opportunities and long-lasting friendships among young professionals who share common life goals, values and more.” 

The group will be hosting business networking events, start-up investment events, influential business and entrepreneurial speakers from Israel and America, Jerusalem hi-tech and business-based job fairs and seminars. 

The JYP Forum is aimed at young professionals, and aspiring young professionals, between the ages 22 to 35. 

According to the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization, which has brought over 75,000 immigrants from North America to Israel over the past 20 years, many young professionals are choosing to live in Jerusalem. 

Recently, NBN invested in a new aliyah campus in the city aimed at hosting the influx of young immigrants coming to the city. 

Faust views the JYP as part of a consolidated effort to “develop Jerusalem’s business ecosystem.” This follows the establishment over the past few years of more quasi-governmental organizations and NGOs with that goal. In July, it was announced that Apple has chosen Jerusalem for its new development center and will be hiring more Israeli engineers.

However, he said: “While all these projects, initiatives and developments are vital, there is still a strong need to cultivate, organize and engage ambitious young professionals ready to take on these roles and push Jerusalem into the next stage.”

He added that a major focus of the forum is to connect English-speaking immigrants with young Israeli professionals. “This is not just vital for Jerusalem’s young professional community and growing business scene, but also for the integration of immigrants coming to Jerusalem. 

“As we have seen before, throughout and after the pandemic, aliyah is continuing to increase from North America – not because of antisemitism or conflict, but because of the Zionist dream.” Other than tech companies, they are in touch with small businesses and individual entrepreneurs, with the goal of connecting young professionals to each other, he noted.

DAN DEUTSCH, a participant in the forum, made aliyah a few years ago after spending time in a Jerusalem yeshiva. “While I knew that I wanted to work in hi-tech, and I knew that Tel Aviv was the center for this, I found many great opportunities in Jerusalem and was more than happy to stay. 

“Now I live in Baka with my wife Maggi, and work as a machine learning and AI specialist for cnvrg.io (owned by Intel). The other month, Maggi and I started our dream of opening a hot-sauce business – “Shvitzin’ Sauce.” We look forward to networking with more Jerusalem young professionals.”

The forum’s research reinforced that there is a strong need for more meeting places and events for young professionals. Matana Bracha Zwiren, CEO of MBZ Marketing & Social Media, who was interviewed for the forum’s research, said her company represents several Jerusalem-based companies and influencers based in Israel.

“As a young professional and business owner in Jerusalem, I chose to establish my company here for a variety of reasons,” she said. “Jerusalem’s community and my religiosity are major reasons for living here.”

“As a young professional and business owner in Jerusalem, I chose to establish my company here for a variety of reasons.”

Matana Bracha Zwiren

Aaron Kalman is chief of staff at Lightricks. The company develops content designed to provide an advanced visual processing engine for mobile phones. With its headquarters in Jerusalem and 450 employees, Lightricks is deeply invested in the future of Jerusalem. 

“Jerusalem’s hi-tech scene has evolved tremendously over the past decade, and it has yet to reach its full potential,” said Kalman, a former adviser to the ministers of education, Diaspora affairs and tourism. Kalman, who himself changed careers, will speak at the December networking event, focusing on what it takes to succeed in hi-tech and what is needed for Jerusalem to utilize its human and commercial resources for greater growth in this sector. 

“Alongside start-ups, investors, and larger companies, the city needs entrepreneurs to connect with the people they need, in order to turn their ideas into business plans,” he said.

Faust, a self-described optimist, is confident about Israel’s hi-tech future – especially in Jerusalem. “That being said, Tel Aviv, Herzliya and Haifa are known as Israel’s hi-tech centers. For many years, leading global companies have built research and development centers, and start-up companies have emerged across central Israel. If you go on sites like LinkedIn, it is obvious that the majority of hi-tech job opportunities are there.

But, he said, that could change. “I believe that between the growing young professional community, the development of new areas like Midtown [by the Israel Canada Group], the building of high-rise office buildings around the city center, and the investment we have seen from the Jerusalem Municipality, the tide could soon be turning.” ❖

To register for JYP’s December 1 event, email [email protected]