New Start-Up, “Sh’varim,” Promotes Change in Jewish Institutions
By Mordechai Shushan
There’s a novel approach to youth engagement on the horizon. “Sh’varim” is the brainchild of Azrael Malachi, who wants to revitalize Jewish life the way tech giants have revitalized our media. Here’s what he told us in a recent interview.
Q. Why is your start-up called Sh’varim?
AM: It’s data-driven. We found that the most successful new Jewish organizations have a one-word name, in Hebrew, which doesn’t tell you anything about what the organization does. You know: kesher, gesher, nesher. Makom, makor, tahor. We go with what works.
Q. Why this name in particular?
AM: We’re modeling ourselves on the tech sector. It comes from Mark Zuckerberg, who said “move fast and break things.” Sh’varim, a call of the shofar, means “broken.”
Q. What will you do, exactly?
AM: We’re an entrepreneurial, scalable, change-oriented startup accelerator which will bring about greater youth involvement in Jewish life.
Q. How did you come up with that?
AM: Well, we’re data-driven. We found that the highest percentage of successful Jewish grant applications contain the words “entrepreneurial,” “scalable,” “change,” “startup,” “accelerator,” and “youth involvement,” so it was really a no-brainer.
Q. So what will you actually do?
AM: Simple. There are a lot of bureaucratic organizations which produce position papers, and send out press releases condemning things they don’t like. That doesn’t speak to millennials, who want personal involvement and direct action. We want to change that.
Q. What’s the solution?
AM: We’re a data-driven company. We want to apply our analytical skills to legacy institutions, working with them as change partners to co-create win-win solutions.
Q. What does that mean, exactly?
AM: Simple. Our core metric is to increase the percentage of youth involvement in Jewish organizations. We’ll work with organizations to reposition their strategies.
Q. How will you go about accomplishing that?
AM: Sh’varim will send a consulting team to each client and start with a lengthy intake process. Then we’ll formulate a group of reports in which we tell stakeholders what they’ve told us during those intake interviews. Next, we will discuss dynamically interactive options with those stakeholders in successive iterations over a multiyear timetable.
Q. That sounds like a lot of process. What will be the eventual outcome?
AM: In the end, the fees for our consulting services will eventually reduce the assets of our clients to the point where the organizations are no longer financially viable.
Q. So your clients will go out of business? How does that help you reach your goal?
AM: Do the math. If older-skewing organizations close their doors, their members will be less involved in Jewish life. And as fewer old people are engaged, the percentage share of youth engagement will be higher. That’s our core metric, and when it happens we’ll be able to say: mission accomplished!