Applications for the ROI Summit 2009 and membership in the ROI Community are open until Monday March 23rd. What is the ROI Community? The Web site says “ROI is a global community of young Jewish innovators that was created by Lynn Schusterman in the summer of 2006 as a partnership between the Center for Leadership Initiatives and Taglit-Birthright Israel.” If you apply for, get accepted to and attend the ROI Summit, held this year between June 28thΓ’β‚¬β€œJuly 2nd, 2009 near Tel Aviv, you become a member of the ROI Community. Applicants should be Jewish innovators between the ages of 22 and 34 at the time of the Summit (detailed criteria here) and should be “developing or seeking to launch a Jewish initiative, or who are demonstrating excellence in pursuit of a global or civic program.” Successful applicants will then be flown to Israel (all expenses paid except for a $250 participation fee) in order to attend the summit where they will meet and network with their peers in a unique synergistic affair that needs to be experienced to be believed.

But it doesn’t end there – that’s the community thing I was talking about – “community” is not a one time affair – it’s an ongoing process. In all the time that I’ve been involved in ROI, I’ve witnessed an explosion of projects, innovations and collaboration and as an ROI alum, you too can be a part of this movement! ROIerrs have also participated in various Limmuds and regional gatherings in the US, Latin America and Israel. ROIers also stay in touch with each other on twitter, facebook and flickr. Check that out to get a taste of ROI.

ROI’s most recent collaboration with Jewlicious is an excellent example of this. At our most recent Jewlicious Festival, the ROI Speakers Bureau facilitated the participation of 9 ROI alums and 1 ROI staff person. Tanya Gutsol came in from Baltimore and discussed the challenges faced by young, 1st generation American Jews. She also discussed her project (Jewlicious in Russian), which was made possible by ROI’s Small Grants Initiative. Eli Winkelman taught participants how to make Challah and discussed her Challah For Hunger project. Marcus Freed wowed us with his one man show about King Solomon and ran a number of very popular Yoga Sessions. Sarah Lefton talked about her ground breaking work on G-dcast, another project supported by ROI’s Small Grants Initiative. Erez Safar and Y-Love entertained us with their participation and funky beats, while Nina Safar talked to us about her funky eats. Her project Maidelle, a portal for Orthodox girls, is going to launch very soon – stay tuned. Sasha Perry, despite her food and beverage duties, managed to take participants on an eco-bike ride and brunch to the beach. Ori Neidich discussed ROI and Jewish innovation from the perspective of a networking guru. ROI staff person Esther Kustanowitz kept it all together and managed to host our comedy show to boot!

Needless to say, the participation of ROI alums at the Jewlicious Festival was great for everyone involved. The ROIers added tremendously to the diversity and dynamism of the Festival’s programing content while helping to promote both ROI and their associated projects. It was a win-win situation and you can be a part of that whole process. The first step is to apply. So go ahead. Apply today or tell someone you know to apply as well. You won’t regret it!

Oh and here’s one of many ROI related videos on YouTube:

Apply soon! You only have till Monday!

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • I already applied but this post makes me want to apply again! The video is cute too but I know ROI is more than just glorified Hillel Camp for grownups. Thanks for the encouragement David!

  • Naw, Muffti fails the intelligence test which consists of trying to figure out what the fuck this means:
    ” where they will meet and network with their peers in a unique synergistic affair that needs to be experienced to be believed.”

    See Eli’s comic πŸ™‚

  • I wrote that with EV’s comic in mind. And don’t be so disingenuous Mufftileh, you’ve been to ROI, you know exactly what goes on and you know the meaning of the word synergy. That’s like when me and Rabbi Yo get together. I know you’re trying to emulate your buddy EV, but I’ve seen him at ROI and he loved it. I’ve even seen cynical ol’ you at the Jewlicious Festival and you were, or claimed to be, duly impressed. So go ahead and and play the bad ass. But remember, no one knows you like ol’ ck knows you.


  • I’m surprised that with his divisive messages of pluralism and Enlightenment values, Muffti is allowed anywhere near these events.

  • ….Glad Muffti finally “got it”, btw. Even philosophers need to “get” some from time to time.

  • I suspect Muffti does fine in that dept., Tom. Then again, I also suspect that in his heart of hearts, he’s an agnostic.

  • In truth, it’s hard to be an atheist, as Middle knows all too well.

  • I never really cared much about my jewish heritage,until several years ago.I missed out on all the fun thing like birthright and ROI,because of my age.Like homer would say DUH

  • Yup.

    My view on it is that people can only be rational to a point but rationality inevitably hits a wall where going that last step of claiming there is nothing out there requires… faith.

  • I find it particularly amusing how atheists keep arguing against something they don’t believe in. It’s like a second-grader convincing a pre-schooler there’s no Easter bunny.

    Secularism is so much easier than that. πŸ™‚

  • There’s a case to be made for it, that’s for sure. Religion gave us the Sistine Chapel, secularism topless beaches.

  • Rubens already had the topless ladies, and he couldn’t have painted those if not for the revenue from paintings for churches.

    BTW, I’m organizing a trip to Antwerp for my students in May / June.

  • Ah, but can one believe in atheism as belief can only be directed at something you cannot know and cannot prove? Basically, what most atheists do is decrying the beliefs of others, claiming to apply reason where no reason can / need be applied as the matter of the nature is? Do atheists not claim that their non-believing in a supreme being is rational, which means it could rationally be deduced? The moment an atheist starts arguing their atheism, their ideological world implodes. πŸ™‚

  • Ummn…if reason can’t be applied to figuring out the nature of the universe, Muffti guesses that science has been a surprising waist of time. Of course you can believe in things that are proveable – Muffti believes that squares have 4 sides and he’s pretty sure he can prove it to you.

    Rational belief doesn’t mean belief that could be rationally deduced – its awfully rare to find deduction of that sort in general. Rational belief means belief that is most reasonable given the evidence. And given the evidence against there being a God and the near total and complete lack of evidence for their being a God, it seems pretty reasonable to be an atheist.

    Phew, no implosion.

  • What’s Muffti’s belief as to why there is something and not nothing?

  • 100% implosion as Muffti cannot possible argue rationally against the existence of a deity without making use of theological terminology and patterns of thought that should not exist within atheists if not for the pre-existing notion of belief.. That is what drove Descartes into pathological insanity – he could not find any rational way of disproving the existence of a supreme being. A supreme being in the understanding of the Abrahamite religions is, while able to perform acts of revelation, not parts of this universe and therefore is too elusive to human rationale (cf. the expulsion from Gan Eden, the book of Job, the story of Babel etc. that all more or less metaphorically describe how humans and human societies fail in trying to elevate themselves to the highest rationale; in times of environmental and political hardships, we yet again come to realize that those that assumedly are the world’s most brilliant thinkers are anything but wit’s end).

    Since it’s a cultist approach to claim that their contents of faith are subject to thought rather than to belief and not one of religions, which do not claim so except for their extremist branches, Muffti could be an anti-cultist. If atheists applied their rationale evenly to all matters that might or might not exist given the lack of evidence and argued only by the extent of their effects, then to them there could be no love, hate, preferences for about anything even apart from female preferences for a certain type of male mate (as men, rationally and by all means of science, should not have any preferences among females pertaining to eye / hair colour, ethnicity etc.).

    If anything, most alleged atheists are agnostics. They do not have faith, but they cannot disprove the existence of a supreme being without granting the possibility of there being one and using theological terminology to outline that being. This would compare to trying to prove the existence of lactose-intolerance or the need for lactose-free / soy milk while stating that there was no such thing as milk.

    Muffti’s welcome to join my dark side of secularism. πŸ™‚

  • Thanks, Froylein, but Muffti prefers to stick with what makes sense. There seem to be quite a few false presuppositions running through what you say, but most importantly, only foolish atheists would try to insist they can prove 100% that there is no god. Rational belief is led by evidence and Muffti thinks one ought to believe what one has most evidence for and not believe what one has little to no (even indirect) evidence for. If you want to call that ‘agnosticism’, that’s fine by Muffti. What’s odd is not the standards for belief that atheists bring to the table, it’s the standards non-atheists do – if theists applies THEIR standards of belief (generalizing from their willingness to believe in God from such scant signs) they should be willing to be talked into just about anything….

    Atheists can believe in whatever they like (other than the existence of God). There is plenty of evidence for love and hate – atheists have overwhelming evidence for the existence of emotions (after all, they HAVE them!) Of course, these will likely in the end bottom out to be grounded in processes of the brain and patterns of neuronal firing, but so what? To discover somethings physical nature is not the same as to find out that it doesn’t exist. So your leaps of ‘logic’ are a great deal less than compelling…

    As for the grand old question of why their is something rather than nothing, Muffti agrees that it is a rather difficult question. here are a few not so helpful things to say. (a) the question of ‘why’ is rather difficult in general to answer when it comes to the fundamnetal bits of the universe – it doesnt’ seem to make sense to muffti to ask why the gravitational constant is what it is and similarly, he’s not sure it makes sense to ask why there is something rather than nothing.

    As for evidence of an implosion, there is overwhelming evidence for that from the observed rates of expansion of the universe at uniform rates. the laws retropredict contraction.

    (b) The something rather than nothing question makes sense if there is a realistic notion in which there could have been nothing. But what exactly are we considering as an alternative — i.e. what does the nothing alternative actually consist in? Usually when we think of alternatives, we think of them as being contained – so Muffti could have failed to exist in the sense that there is a thing (the universe) that failed to contain Muffti. And Muffti thinks that when people entertain the idea that there could have been nothing they are thinking of a cold empty universe. THAT seems possible but answerable. But if they are just imagining there being nothing, its hard (for Muffti) to get a grip on what they are imagining. Maybe this is why he’s not sure the question makes sense.

    (c) most importantly, Muffti has always failed to see how positing a god helps with this question, since the question ‘why is there a god’? seems just as pressing if you do posit one and just as difficult to answer (if it even makes sense). If you CAN get yourself to imagine the ‘nothing’ alternative rather than something, surely you can imagine the the nothing alternative rather than the ‘God’ alternative. So what do you really gain by way of answering ‘why’ questions by positing a God. if anything, you get MORE unanswerable questions (why did God create anything? why did God create thign this way? why is there one god rather than 4? why is God the way he is?) which, so far as we can telll, aren’t just mysterious but patently unstudiable. Even the bible takes no time at all to explain why god bothered doing any of this, or describing the ‘nothing’ state prior to the supposed creation.

    So positing a god is like positing a name for stuff we don’t understand – it’s not a theory (positing a god predicts absolutely nothing – we can only retroactively look back and try to infer his features from how things went. This is not predictive or explanatory short of a theory of godly psychology which Muffti is repeatedly told is to infinite to be in our capacity ot understand, to divine to be in our capacity to understand, to ununderstandable to be in or capacity to understand). So we’re stuck with the question either way and have no clue as to how to answer it either way. So since we gain nothing but ontological unparsimony, what’s to be gained by an avenue that pretends to answer a question but really just holds out more conceptual darkness?

    So perhaps Muffti should say what’s morrissey’s belief as to why there is something rather than nothing?

  • Even an atheist can agree that community can be fun and inspring (work with me here, muffti)…

    And now the ROI 2009 Summit application deadline has been extended to March 31 at 11:59pm. So tell your fabulous innovator friends to apply for this annual almost-free Israel experience that’s also certainly invaluable…

    People can contact me with questions if they have them…

  • Agreed, E. Communities can be fun and inspiring. especially when they party hard and get themselves into all sorts of tangeld situations. Is that what you had in mind?

  • Apparently, a yoga instructor will be on hand, if that’s what you mean by “tangled situations.”

  • I got more stuff, don’t worry. Just wanted to set your mind at ease about non-sanctioned activities.

  • ….Building community and makin’ whoopie are very different things.

    Are we to understand that Muffti has come out of the closet as– an agnostic? If so, he’s halfway over to our side.

  • Uhmmm, you cannot quite deliberately pick when something qualifies as solid evidence for something and when it cannot considering their analogous quality; there still is no substantial proof for the existence and content of emotions unless you count in their effects. And then atheists use the same pattern of dialectics theists use. Atheism, as the term suggests, is not about a “maybe” but a “definitely no”. If you wish to get into neuroscience, there still is no evidence for emotions per se but for altered behaviour if certain parts (the frontal lobe) get impacted [but there is plenty of neurological evidence that suggests that something goes on in the brains of believers and that in healthy humans, there might be a neurological predisposition to believe]. Muffti’s an agnostic par excellence, but I wish to turn him European secular. πŸ™‚

  • I recently met a Jewish Unitarian. That may be the most to be hoped for.

  • There is ‘definitely no’ God just as much as their are ‘definitely no’ elves hiding in your pantry. You can’t disprove their existence to stubborn enough a questioner any more than I can ‘disprove’ God to a stubborn enough questioner. One also can’t disprove the hypothesis that world started 5 minutes ago complete with evidence that it’s been around miuch longer and falsified memories written into our brains. All are things Muffti doesn’t believe in. If that makes him an agnostic, european secular, general asshole, whatever.

    There is plenty of evidence for emotions that isn’t neuroscientific – we have and feel them, others seem to have an feel them, they are internal states…what’s the comparable evidence for the existence of God? He doens’t see the analogy.

  • You believe in emotions, but what you feel is related to the senses, not emotions. People that believe in a supreme being feel equally “moved” by it as people that believe they are “moved” by emotions (that is what the word means actually; to feel = sentire –> to sense). Feelings and emotions often are conflated in languages with Germanic roots, but they are two completely different concepts.

  • You tell Muffti what you mean by ‘love’ and ’emotion’ and Muffti will tell you what he thinks we have evidence for. Emotions seem to be, so far as Muffti understands the word, states of an individual (as are feelings). If Muffti ever feels ‘moved’ by a supreme being, he’ll think he has some evidence for a supreme being. In the case of others, he thinks that the evidence is far better that they are delusional. But that’s just him.

  • There are no definitions for emotions, they are subjective. Any definition would be a failed attempt from the start, at best doing a job of describing the effects of the emotions. A common understanding of what experiences relate to what emotions appear to be a matter of education rather than innate concepts.

  • Ok, then, it’s hard to see what your distinction comes to. Muffti is sure of the following: there are states that are part of the reference of terms like ‘love’, ‘hate’, ‘anger’ etc. and that people enter those states (and regretably sometimes exit them) and that while in those states they have experiences that give them evidence that they are in those states (some of it introspective). No problem for atheism there – you ahve the most direct sort of evidecne you could want to have.

  • They aren’t assumed – they are part of a theory that you have plenty of evidence for. You have lots of evdience that people are sometimes angry, sometimes hate are sometimes in love (by their actions, they self reports…)

    There is no analogy here to an all powerful, all loving being who created the universe. That’s part of a theory that has no credibility other than a long pedigree of peopel believing it.

  • Muffti’s describing what I explained above – an assumption thought of as verification of unprovable matters based on their effects. πŸ™‚

  • Oy, for the last time f’lein, Muffti isn’t chasing down proof. His point was a matter of what is reasonable to believe. It’s reasonable to believe that we have emotions because we have all sorts of reasons to infer them from their effects (plus apparent introspective access, correlations (albeit still crude) with neurophysical activity, successful psychological explanations…). What’s the analogy for God that makes it reasonable to believe in him?

  • If something you cannot prove is reasonable to believe in based on effects commonly associated with certain emotions (with no clear distinction neurologically) and introspection, then you’ve got exactly the same line of reasoning used for supreme beings – the interpretation is just as random as interpreting certain physical reactions to be associated with a distinct emotion.

  • The interpretation is NOT random – its embedded in a theory. For example, the theory says that when people are in certain physical states they are likely to be angry. The theory also predicts that when people are angry they will act in certain characteristic ways, that parts of their brains wil be more active, that they will more likely resond in certain ways…and the theory gets justified by its predictive power, by its coherence with the evidence…all the way we do stuff in science. Just as infer the properties of electrons that we can’t SEE by their effects.

    What is the comparable theory that gets confirmed by obersvation about God? There isn’t one.

  • The belief in god evokes reactions in the brain and has been proved to lessen pain sensitivity even. That kind of reaction / state has been determined exclusive to believers; in contrast, the very same brain areas are active during all emotions, and the physical reactions of e.g. fear, anger, excitedness and confusion are so close that only one’s random interpretation can tell what state you’re actually in. Being in love evokes the same neurological and physical reactions as mourning (as well as substance abuse and pathological insanity BTW). The evidence isn’t clear at all.

  • F’lein,

    a) Muffti keeps trying to say that we are comparing apples and oranges. Emotions, if there are any, are internal states. Tehy don’t have an external object. They play a role in psychological theory and the brain is clearly adapted to have them. THe fact that we aren’t perfectly reliable indicators of which one we are in doesn’t say muhc other than that, we aren’t perfectly reliable indicators of hwich one we are in.

    That mourning adn being in love activate similar neuronal and physical patterns is nice and interesting but not really relevant since the theory of mind doesn’t say same brain state = same mental state – part of the theory is a psychological theory and low and behold, we expect people to exhibit different actions when in love than when mourning – whn you love x you do all sorts of activiities (culturally dependant presumably) like kiss them, say ‘I love that person’….when you mourn you do things like cry, adn go to grave sites and say ‘I miss that person’…and we can tell those states apart, to some imperfect degree of reliability by our theory of mind combined with out theory of hte brain…the latter being especially primitive still w/r/t how local and global processes combine to create action in context. Furthermore, it isn’t random – we don’t confuse, for example, boredom with Schadenfreude very often.Muffti thinks you may be confusing randomness with imperfect detection. They aren’t the same thing anymore than thermometers are imperfect detectors of temperature under some conditions but they aren’t thereby random.

    Muffti isnt’ dogmatic about this – he recently read a book by a top pain researcher claiming that pain was a myth, in the sense that it was a non-homogenous state whose effects were varied, neurophysiology was heterogenous and that ultimatel we were lumping together massively distinct phenomena under one name. If this turns out to be right, we have some reason to doubt the existence of pain (at least in the sense that we think of it – as a coherent phenomenon). If the evidence ultimately doesn’t support a theory of emotions (and there are many ways this could happen) then we will have been mistaken and so be it. Until then, the success of our combined theory of mind in general supports the existence of emotions based on the evidence of introspection and psychological prediction, neurophysiological differentiation. Muffti’s point is that notion comparable supports the existence of a diety.

    The belief in god is a belief about a purported external object. No one doubts that the belief in God causes neurochemical effets/is associated with neurochemical effects. But so what? What does that have to do with the veracity of the belief? If we found out that believing in leprechauns was associated with a special sort of happiness would you think that we had good evidence for the existence of leprechauns?

    b) If anything (and muffti really means to stress the ‘if’ here), explaining why people believe in God because of a distinct role it plays in their cognitive and neurphysiological life lessens muffti’s temptation to then go a head and posit a god as well. What’s left to explain once we explain why people believe in God based on internal mechanisms? He plays no role in physics, chemistry, biology…and if we can explain belief in God by mechanisms that don’t invovle positing a god, doens’t that make god a completely redundant theoretical entity that does no work whatsoever? At least if Muffti thought that people believed in God and this could be explained in no other way than there existing an actual object of their thought he would think there was some case to be made for god. But if there isn’t?

  • So Muffti doesn’t direct his emotions towards external objects/ people? Does Muffti only love mufftiself?

  • But if Muffti didn’t direct his emotions at objects or other people, wouldn’t the emotions be pointless?

  • I’d respond, but I just don’t care about what either of you have to say right now. I feel too distant.

    By the way, there is no God and we’re all alone in the universe.

  • You got Muffti, Middle. You always got Muffti.

    The probably would be, F’lein. Muffti thinks there are other people and he directs emotions at them. It doens’t go the other way around.

  • Doesn’t Muffti think his emotions are reflective of his wants and needs concerning other people and external objects?

  • So are religious beliefs otherwise all religions would have identitical concepts of their deities. πŸ™‚

  • I agree with Middle. The very fact of the existence of the universe shows God does not exist. We can show with cause-and-effect precision how natural selection works, demonstrating God does not exist. We have no causal explanation for the existence of being. This also demonstrates God does not exist.

  • Of course religious beliefs are directed outwardly. It doesn’t mean they are directed successfully at anything (just as one can fear a ghost without their being any ghosts).

  • But Muffti, can you explain the “why” of our existence? If there is no God, what’s going on? Is everything just there “because?”

  • He who has a why to live can bear with almost any Muffti.

  • Muffti’s object of love might not always turn Muffti’s love either. So that “love” as in a person might not exist, Muffti’s love might even be directed at a non-existent ideal; emotions aren’t always mutual, revelation is not a necessity but seen as an act of divine love in the Abrahamite religions. So if emotions cannot and often do not get directed successfully at objects or people, so does religious belief. The object verifies and manifests itself in the way our projected emotions reflect on it just as god verfifies aand manifests himself in the way our beliefs reflect on him.

  • If Muffti understood a word of what you were saying, F’lein, he would gladly answer. Emotions can get directed successfuly at objects and they can get badly directed (when you think there is somehting there but isn’t). But one thing that seems for certain – emotions don’t create objects. Muffti is happy to admit that religious belief has a supposed object – the objection is that there is no great evidence ot say that supposed object exists and plenty of indirect evidence of hte contrary.

    Middle, please explain why there being a god explains the ‘why’ of our existence? Saying that there is a god there doesn’t explain anything given that he could have just easily created us as failed to create us. So, yeah, Muffti doesn’t htink that there is an answerable ‘why’ question here any more than there is an answer to why the basic laws of physics are the way they are, or why E=MC2 as opposed to E=MC3. An intresting question, to Muffti’s mind, is why we are so inclined to ask ‘why’ and expect that there should be a further explainer…

    and why no one ever asks ‘why’ of God? Why is that anymore of a satisfying place to stop asking why? In fact, if there is a god, does he ever sit there and say ‘why do I exist rather than nothing?’ Muffti suspects that if there is such a being, he doesn’t because he would realize that it’s a non-answerable question. So we know that ‘why’ questions can’t be answered ad infinitum in non-trivial ways (i.e. ‘coz it is’). So why don’t we content ourself with saying that it just is?

  • Hmm, ‘why’ questions are asked of God all the time. Even if we didn’t ask ‘why’ questions about ourselves, we’d ask ‘how’ questions of the universe, being, etc. Even if we write ourselves and our planet off as trivial, the ‘how’ questions lead us to wonder about the provenance of existence.

  • Why questions are asked of god, but not for his purpose or existence. (and, shockingly, the ones that are asked are never answered…hmmmn…..)