This past week, I attended a conference in Jerusalem called ROI120 (ROI 120). I have now heard conflicting things about what ROI stands from “Return on Investment,” to Hebrew for “shepherd” or “leader.”
Lynn Schusterman, a prominent donor in the world of Jewish Philanthropy, pays for 120 young Jews from around the world to fly to and meet in Jerusalem for 5 days. The idea of the conference is have young Jewish leaders from around the world mix, network and share ideas. I met Jews from Warsaw, Santiago, Bombay and London to name just a few places from around the world.
As part of this conference you had to pick a track to follow. You could choose from Youth programs, Israel, Technology, Environment, Arts and Tikkun Olam. I was on the Tikkun Olam track with some pretty amazing people. One person, Joshua Kriger, for example has a project that teaches homeless people job skills in the Washington D.C. area.
We shared ideas, we shared skills and had amazing experiences such as visiting an Israeli Absorption Center for incoming Ethiopians Jews and had dinner at the top of Mt. Herzl with the moon shining down over Jerusalem.
The experience was really special for me, because I met people like Miri Hason. Miri was getting hell from her employers because she was at this conference. Why was she here? She wanted to learn fundraising skills so that she could have an outdoor camp for Israeli and Ethiopian Israelis to promote understanding and fight racism. These are the kind of people that inspire you and push you to do more for society.
People often don’t understand my energy, my passion or me. And they don’t understand my intense desire to help other people. But at the ROI conference I fit right in. I belonged. I was right at home.