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L-R Justin Korda (ED of ROI Community), Lynn Schusterman, Robin Kantor (Director of Communications of Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation) at the ROI Summit 2012

Jewish Innovators Unite at ROI Summit in Jerusalem

L-R Justin Korda (ED of ROI Community), Lynn Schusterman, Robin Kantor (Director of Communications of Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation) at the ROI Summit 2012 (photo credit Studio Adigital)

I’m here in Jerusalem, and I can’t hold back my excitement. Why? Because I’ve been given the chance to see the potential for future elements of Jewish Life. Conceived by Lynn Schusterman and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, each year the ROI Summit selects 150 innovators, connectors, and creators in their 20s and 30s with the mandate to do nothing short of creating the Jewish world of the future. Those of us at this year’s summit (the seventh) join an exclusive ROI Community of 800 past participants from across the world.

It’s easy to see why the atmosphere here is so electric – the creativity found in the sessions, over the dinner tables, and in the hallways is matched only by the deep commitment shared by everyone here to the Jewish world as it is, as it could be, and as we can make it.

I am in awe.

Over the past two days I’ve met fellow Jewish professionals working to amplify Jewish life familiar and unfamiliar alike – from Jerusalem to South Africa to Poland to our very own Boulder, the sparks of the Jewish community are burning bright, and ROI is fanning the flames. Participating in inspiring conversations about collaborative projects, cultivating great ideas, and developing the practical steps to bring our visions to reality, has filled me with a sense of pride for the Boulder Jewish community. The work we continue to do at the Boulder JCC and in the community has been received with excitement by the incredible Jewish leaders at this Summit – all eager for opportunities to partner and collaborate, to teach from their experience and to learn from ours.

Justin Korda, Executive Director of ROI Community, shared, “We are really excited to have someone here from Boulder for the first time: a thriving, growing, and optimistic community.”

This experience has introduced me to some truly innovative and creative minds. I’ve met an incredible engineer named Kfir Damari who is going to put Israel on the moon. His initiative SpaceIL was created to inspire and enhance science, technology, and mathematics education in Israel. As a finalist in the Google Lunar X competition, he sees Israel joining the elite group of global visionary nations that have been on the moon to inspire their citizens and all of mankind.

I’ve sat with Alison Laichter, founder and Executive Director of the Jewish Meditation Center, a community focused on the exploration of mindfulness and meditation through a Jewish lens.  She reaches thousands of young Jews in her native Brooklyn, and across the country, all looking for Jewish meaning and resonance in their daily lives.

I learned from Klaudia Klimek from Krakow, Poland who founded Jewrnalism, which is helping redefine how visitors see Jewish life in Poland as not confined to the past, but vibrantly alive in the present.

L-R Oliver Marcus and Jonathan Lev discuss the Jewish future at the ROI Summit (photo credit Studio Adigital)

If I’ve learned anything at ROI, it’s that Jewish life is more powerful outside of a vacuum. Rafi Samuels-Schwartz’s work connecting alumni of Taglit-Birthright Israel trips to Jewish life in the Northeast influences the work of Oliver Marcus whose efforts with JHub create a space for social change and innovation in the UK Jewish, which connects to the passions of our very own Talia Davis from Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado who utilizes new ideas and techniques to communicate and connect with communities. And throughout the ROI Community the chain of connections doesn’t stop there.

The Jewish world of the future is inherently local and global at the same time. This is why I am proud of the community we continue to build in Boulder – a community that enriches our lives at home and the Jewish world as a whole.

About Jonathan Lev

Jonathan Lev
Jonathan Lev, MPA, joined the Boulder JCC in 2010. He is a passionate educator and entrepreneur who combines his experience at Jewish summer camp and founding of Boulder based Renewable Choice Energy to influence his leadership as a Jewish professional. He was certified as high school teacher and Summa Cum Laude graduate from the University of Colorado in Boulder. For more than six years, Jonathan was a leader in the field of Jewish summer camp where he worked tirelessly to enhance the level of supervision and mentorship for both campers and staff through innovative summer and year-round trainings. In 2007, Jonathan continued his studies and was selected as a Taub Fellow at New York University in the dual-master’s degree program for a Master in Public Administration in Nonprofit Management (MPA) and Master in Hebrew and Judaic Studies (MA). He and his wife Lyndsay spend their free time hiking trails, skiing, listening to music, and planning their next great adventure. Follow him @jonathanlev on twitter.

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