Eyes Wide Open

With the joyous singing just a few short hours ago of Hashana Ha Baah Me Yerushalayem, the 3rd ROI120 Summit in Jerusalem came to a close.

However, this was certainly anything but an ending. A conclusion, yes, to an incredible four days, but more important it marked a beginning and a continuation. A beginning of new friendships, new innovations coming to the forefront and a great deal of new networking.

As for a continuation? The ROI brand. Perhaps not looked as such previously, but most certainly now firmly established as a major force among this demographic worldwide. And pay attention, y’all, as they leverage this global network they call “ROI”.

The atmosphere in those closing moments was infectious, and I am grateful to ROI for extending me the opportunity to spend time at many of the events and sessions during this past week. For me, it was a time to not only see old friends, and personally connect with several whom I only knew by their emails, but to sit, and listen, to numerous young adults from around the world and hear first-hand about some of the exciting and innovative ventures they are involved in:

Aaron (Santa Barbara), Aaron (San Salvador), Andrew (Melbourne), Anna (Moscow), Dafna (Tel Aviv), Daniel (Rio), Deborah (Florianopolis) and Devorah (L.A.).

The list goes on, but you get the idea. I will be introducing you to all of these outstanding young adults, and many more, as we go forward. Several, will be guest-blogging for us from countries that are, quite frankly, off the radar-scope for most of us.

Lynn Schusterman told us all in her heartfelt closing remarks, “one person can truly make a difference”; and judging by this Summit, that was a major understatement!

But, there is another dynamic at play here I would briefly like to comment on. Wednesday evening, addressing the assembled participants, Sandy Cardin (president of the Schusterman Family Foundation), spoke of three gulfs in the Jewish community: old vs. young; Israel vs. the Diasopra and the religious vs. the secular. And the first, the old vs. the young, could not have been clearer this week.

This is an extremely busy ten days or so here in Israel. Not only was ROI in town, but so is the JAFI Board of Governors, a major international conference for Keren Hayesod, and numerous smaller conferences touching the world of Jewish philanthropy here in Israel and internationally.

The most senior leadership, both lay and professional of the UJC along with regional Federation representatives, are here; the same for KH; and of course JAFI based right here in Jerusalem, has their senior lay leadership also ‘b-aretz’. And how many of them attended even one event at ROI? How many came to meet, listen, or just observe these new innovators they profess to wanting in their tent? A big goose-egg.

Shame on them; shame on every single one.

As Steven Cohen and Ari Kelman spoke of in their recently released study, Uncoupled: How our Singles are Reshaping Jewish Engagement, the established Jewish world needs to engage them now or potentially loose them forever. A lesson these organizations have apparently not yet absorbed.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem