Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In Israel, and ROI Cometh!

My little street in Nachlaot, Ma'on.
Well, here I am in Jerusalem safe and sound. I'm not sure why I'm more exhausted this trip than past trips -- maybe because I don't have Tuvia with me to keep me alive, alert, awake and enthusiastic. Either way, I was up later than I wanted to be last night (millions of emails in the inbox), and there was someone upstairs have a crazy party in which the music rose in volume about every two minutes. I'm worried I might not be able to swing a Shavuot all-nighter, but we'll see. If anything, I'm going to make it to the kotel, even if ever-so-briefly. Then? I might need to sleep some more. But this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of things, I feel like. Pilgrimage holiday at the pilgrimage locale? Awesomesauce.

So tonight and tomorrow are Shavuot, which I'm spending with some new and old friends, followed by some chillaxing and then an as-yet-unknown Shabbat in Jerusalem. I kind of want to get my Shabbos on at the kotel, so I'm staying local. Next Shabbos I'll be in Ramat Shlomo with my awesome Lubavitch family (Tuvia's side, of course).

And then it's on to the races. Er ... the 2011 ROI Summit at the Dan Jerusalem Hotel. Still not sure what this ROI thing I'm talking about is? Well, this is the press release, and you can follow everything on Twitter with the hashtag #roicom! (Read more here.) I've got three main areas of passion: Conversion, Social Media, Hebrew Language/Israel Education. I can't say my Hebrew is stellar (sigh), but hopefully this trip will prove my passion worthy.

You can expect gobs of blogging and Tweeting about the event, so if I bog you down, feel free to tune me out for a few days, but I hope you'll listen and learn along with me!

Connecting to Create the Jewish Future
Young Social Innovators Will Collaborate at Global Summit in Jerusalem to Transform the Jewish World and Beyond. June 12-16, 2011, Dan Jerusalem Hotel

As cyber-activism and Facebook revolutions sweep the Middle East, 150 Jewish social and business entrepreneurs, technology whizzes, thinkers and artists from Hong Kong to Zagreb, Sao Paulo to San Francisco, and Melbourne to Beersheva, will converge on Jerusalem for the ROI Global Summit of Young Jewish Innovators, to connect and create new tools and novel approaches to shape the Jewish world and beyond.

ROI Community is an international network of 600 social entrepreneurs and Jewish innovators in 40 countries on six continents who are creating innovative ways to connect to Jewish life.

“These young Jewish social entrepreneurs are transforming the Jewish world through their vital initiatives and commitment to tikkun olam, repairing the world,” said Lynn Schusterman, the American Jewish philanthropist who, in 2005, created ROI Community as a partnership with Taglit-Birthright Israel. “As change agents within their own communities, in Israel and beyond, these 20- and 30-somethings are key to ensuring the vibrancy of Jewish life 3,000 years down the road.”

Keynote speaker Marina Nemat, whose best-selling memoir Prisoner of Teheran recounts the torture she endured while imprisoned by the Khomeini regime as a teenager, will address human rights and the revolutions sweeping the Middle East. Opening keynoter Daniel Birnbaum, who, as CEO, oversaw Israel’s biggest IPO in 2010 for start-up SodaStream International, will share how building a corporate culture grounded in environmental responsibility boosts business. And, in conjunction with the Jerusalem Season of Culture, world-renowned video artist Kutiman will unveil a new piece inspired by Jerusalem during the ROI Global Summit.

At the heart of the program is peer-to-peer training and collaborative project-building lead by ROI network members from around the world. In addition, some of Israel’s most successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders will teach Master Classes to inspire the ROIers with their personal stories and insights for effecting change. Among the dozen Master Class teachers will be Yossi Abramowitz, president of the newly formed Arava Power Company and Jewish educator/activist; Independence Party MK Einat Wilf, a Cambridge PhD and former Senior Fellow at the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, who serves on the Foreign Affairs and Defense, Education and House committees; and, Rachel Azarya, the youngest Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem.

ROI Community has played a key role in seeding and supporting such cutting-edge Jewish start-ups as Moishe House, G-dcast, Jewcology, Omanoot.com, andHaggadot.com. ROI also offers an expansive Micro Grants program to help ROI members turn ideas into actual meaningful projects.

“ROI Community creates a space where connection and innovation happen,” said Justin Korda, ROI Community Executive Director. “Our ultimate goal is to link up dynamic, creative young Jews, enabling them to translate their ideas into initiatives that bring the joy of Jewish life to Jews around the world and impact the world around them. Ultimately, we envision a thousand-strong network of innovators engaging a million people in diverse forms of Jewish life.”