Jewish innovators convene in Jerusalem


(JTA) — A French banker who runs a secular yeshiva and the manager of a burlesque human rights bar in Warsaw are among 151 young Jewish innovators meeting in Jerusalem for a conference encouraging social activism in the Jewish community.

The participants convened in the Israeli capital on June 23 for the ROI Summit, a weeklong seminar on engagement by Jews in their 20s and 30s. This year’s edition includes participants from 30 countries.

The bar operator, 29-year-old Robert Gajda is an architect who learned when he was 16 that he has Jewish roots. He discovered a testimonial of his maternal grandfather telling how he had escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. He’s been active in local Jewish programming ever since.

Amid signs of growing intolerance in Polish society, he opened a bar along with his Jewish girlfriend, a burlesque dancer known as Betty Q. The bar, Madame Q, aims to be a safe space for the LGBTQ community and feminists, he said.

Jonathan Zribi from France grew up in a more traditionally Jewish environment. He founded Pilpoul, a club he calls a “yeshiva for anyone interested in learning,” also to also bring Judaism closer to those who grew up with little exposure to the faith.

This year’s participants “already have proven their ability and readiness to step up and lead, and we’re energized by their limitless potential to generate positive impact,” said No’a Gorlin, the associate executive director of the ROI Summit, which the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation started in 2005.

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