(Photo via ROI)
Today, world Jewry has found itself in a precarious position. Globally, anti-Semitism has risen to levels once unthinkable years earlier. From the streets of European capitals to the far reaches of New Zealand and South Africa, Jews are finding themselves again facing the existential threats of Jew-hatred and bigotry. Our communal institutions have been caught off guard- the very leaders and organizations meant to protect and advocate for us, have been slow at best, and incapable at worst, in fighting a battle increasingly taking place on new battleground like social media and university campuses. I believe young and innovative leaders are required to reinvigorate our Jewish institutions and respond to anti-Semitism. To guarantee the success of such leaders, the Jewish community must invest in and nurture them. One organization leading this task is the ROI Community.
Founded by Lynn and Charles Schusterman Philanthropic Foundation, the ROI Community is an international network of young Jewish activists and “change makers who are redefining Jewish engagement for a new generation of global citizens”. With the view that Jews around the world make up one united kehilah, the ROI Community creates a forum for young Jews to discuss and learn from each other ways in which to strengthen and improve their respective communities and societies. This is done primarily through the program’s capstone Summit meeting which pays for identified Jewish leaders to come to Israel from all over the world and facilitates on-going interactions and relationships among them. The organization also gives out micro grants for personal and professional development to the leaders. Recent ROI Community participants include Andre Oboler, the founder and CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute, an Australian charity combating online anti-Semitism, and Melissa Sonnino, the Community Affairs Coordinator at CEJI, where she implements diversity training against all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism.
It is inspiring to see such capable and innovative young Jews coming together to solve our shared problems. World Jewry must work to encourage our established Jewish organizations to open up to the new ideas and fresh perspectives that these new Jewish leaders offer. By working together, anti-Semitism can be defeated!