The annual ROI Summit is set to begin today. One hundred and twenty young Jewish innovators from Israel and around the world will get together near Tel-Aviv for 5 days of brainstorming, networking and skill building sessions. There’s much talk in the organized Jewish community about fostering innovation, but gosh darn it, for the past 4 years the Schusterman Foundation has put its money where it’s mouth is. The Jewlicious Festival has received funding from the Schusterman Foundation for the last 2 years and Jewlicious.ru, our Russian language site, is itself a project that evolved out of and was partly funded by ROI. Thanks to ROI, we managed to see innovative projects get implemented and succeed, like GoJerusalem.com, Oleh Records, G_dCast etc. and we look forward to seeing that process continue to have an impact on all our daily lives.

So yeah, I hope that didn’t sound like I was brown nosing too much, but we’ve really been enriched on so many levels by ROI that I can’t overstate the point enough. I know a number of the new crop going into the summit this year and I can’t hardly wait to see what awesomeness transpires. Stay tuned I suppose, we’ll be keeping you updated on that. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Sasha Perry’s first ROI related video above. Sasha is part of this year’s ROI video team and she is also a Jewlicious Festival veteran and a frequent resident of Beit Jewlicious here in Jerusalem. Yay!

Oh and the twitter hash tag for ROI is #roicom. I was shooting for #ILoveBeto but cooler heads prevailed I guess…

About the author

ck

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.

40 Comments

  • Um,
    excuse me,
    Mr CK man,
    Hello…

    Regarding Jerusalem.com I think you might want to look at this: http://dataopedia.com/jerusalem-com

    Considering the fact that the Jerusalem.com registers dismally on all the graphs and statistics that Dataopedia brings in I can only conclude that:

    1. You have a very low bar for “success”.

    2. http://www.StartupJerusalem.com (broken link) and Michael Weiss have no clue WTF they are doing.

    3. Somebody paid inmanage.com, a Tel-Aviv company (why not sponsor local Jerusalem talent?) a shitload of money ($750,000 ?!?) to get crap, when they could have just as well gotten a better product for free by using open source platforms.

    4. When you take the $750,000 spent and divide them up between the visitors to the site you get about $190 for every unique visitor. At that rate they’d probably do a better job promoting Jerusalem by simply handing out the money to people at the airport…

    5. Considering research has shown that “Jerusalem” registers as brand far better than “Israel” the catastrophic failure of Jerusalem.com is way beyond embarrassing. I’m willing to bet any mediocre blogger could do a better job with that domain than the current management. In fact for about 2 years Ivan Maletin and Noam Kuzar of Jerusalemite.org did just that (with NO funding at all).

    Disclosure – A few years ago when I still ran a web-studio in Jerusalem I was invited to the 1st discussion about “Gojerusalem.com”. That was all my involvement in the project.

  • The more I delve into this post the madder I get. I just saw the video:

    OY VEY!
    Who funds these things?!?
    What a horrifying waste!

    The finishing sentence sums it up:
    They’ll have a good time spending some rich donors’ money that could have been better spent on someone actually deserving!

    As good ole Eli Wallach says in “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” – “You wanna shoot? Shoot! Don’t TALK!” – to paraphrase – you wanna make a difference in your community – go make a difference don’t spend 5 days cavorting around at some senile rich donor’s expense.

    If we had to count on people like this to found the state those of us who’d have survived the Holocaust would still be in the Shtetl…

    Heaven help us.

  • Mike, as a follower of GoJerusalem’s trajectory, I understand your frustrations, but please allow me to clear up some of your more misguided statements.

    Neither ROI nor any other donor funds Jerusalem.com. It was Jerusalemite.net that received a grant from ROI last year, and thanks to the success of that site, my team is now working with Jerusalem.com, managing its culture and tourism channel (while continuing with Jerusalemite on a lower flame).

    Jerusalem.com is a private initiative with private funding, and the domain was not purchased from inManage – they are the development company.

    Jerusalem.com officially launched last week, so I think calling it a “catastrophic failure” is a bit premature. The site’s culture and tourism channel alone includes hundreds of pages of restaurant listings, nightlife, museums and hotels, 50-60 event listings taking place in Jerusalem in any given week, and original articles going up every weekday. If you have any questions feel free to email me, and if I can answer them, I shall.

  • $750K is whole lotta money (for Tel Aviv) for much less love (for Jerusalem)

    Especially if you believe in the fact that there are no people in Jerusalem that could build a site like that, so we have to pay people in Tel Aviv. That’s a shame!

  • You’re right. Nobody’s business. Except for, maybe, the generous benefactor that donated towards advancing Jerusalem and much of the funds actually end up in Tel Aviv. I find that narrow minded and near sighted as generous as it gets. And I am also more than convinced that the same quality of work could be provided by local professionals. But, again, you’re right. Who wants to think about that?

  • Did somebody trick the generous benefactor who is alluded to as senile by another commenter? If so, then that’s a problem. If however the team from Tel Aviv made a superior bid for the work, then whose fault is that?

    I ask because I don’t have any information about any of this, but I fail to understand why everybody is up in arms over this issue when you don’t know how the Tel Aviv team got the job.

  • People, it’s a PRIVATE initiative. It’s a privately owned company. The company did not receive 750,000 dollars from a benefactor. There is no benefactor, it is not a non-for-profit. It is a business. The 750,000 was the cost of the domain. The company in Tel Aviv is purely doing web development. Not a big deal.

    Jerusalem.com is working with tens of local companies and businesses to promote Jerusalem as a tourist and cultural destination. Hundreds of businesses (restaurants, museums, hotels) are listed on Jerusalem.com free of charge. The mission of Jerusalem.com is to promote Jerusalem. If you have any questions you should feel free to email me at harryr@jerusalem.com.

  • OK, OK, I overreacted. It’s all cool and kosher. Nobody is senile and nobody got tricked. Kudos to the TA team. Great work people! Go Jerusalem!

  • Oh, just can’t help myself…

    “Launched by “Start-up Jerusalem”, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening Jerusalem, and Michael Weiss, a 34 year-old Jerusalem entrepreneur, Jerusalem.com is your gateway to the holy city of Jerusalem with easy access anytime and from anywhere…with just a click of the mouse.”

    Quoted from Jerusalem.com About Us Page, link: http://www.jerusalem.com/about/About-us

    I clearly see “non-profit” and “dedicated to strengthening Jerusalem” written there, but hey, call me illiterate…

  • An earlier version was “launched” by start up Jerusalem (gojerusalem.com) but we no longer have any affiliation with them.

  • GoJerusalem + StartUp Jerusalem are Mayor Barkat’s prior initiatives if I am not mistaken. So, how does a non-profit become a private (for profit) initiative just like that? Is it sold? Or bought? How does that work? Really?

    Who and how profits from an originally non-profit thing?

  • If everything I am reading here is true, including the outgoing links to other articles all this is a bit odd.

    An initial initiative that was built through donations and not for profit is one day “flipped” into a legitimate business and is now working for profit.

    I would like to investigate:
    1. Who was responsible for the initial (non-profit) stage and how much $$$ in donations they received and who gave them the money? It is only fair that these people should become shareholders in the business now. Do they even know that it became a successful business based on their donations?
    2. How did this initiative “change hands” and did anybody profit from that in any way? Not including the original donors of course.

    If this transformation is legally possible then why doesn’t every start-up do it? It is a very comfortable environment to be in (non-profit) initially and then when the moment is right, ta-dam, become a legitimate business.

  • That’s funny.

    I don’t have a clue about the specifics of this situation but in general a non-profit is run like a business. It has to raise sufficient funds to survive or it fails. It can raise one trillion dollars but if its expenses are 1.1 trillion and it can’t raise or borrow the other 0.1 trillion dollars, it will go under. After all, salaries have to be paid, vendors have to be paid, the rent has to be paid. Why do you think you keep getting all those letters in the mail with appeals for donations?

    On the day that a non-profit goes under and shuts its doors permanently, its assets are liquidated just as they would be with a for-profit business. Its donors are not considered shareholders of anything because they never were shareholders in the first place, merely donors who liked to give money or gifts to this entity without receiving a product or service in return. Sometimes the founders of a non-profit might get to keep something just because nobody knows about its existence or because they run the non-profit and are positioned to grab whatever they can from the project they’ve worked on for a long time usually for low pay.

    From the sounds of this situation, it appears that the key asset to the former non-profit was the domain name and that somebody paid quite a bit for the domain and some of the ideas already used in that domain.

    So Caput, I don’t think your investigation is going to satisfy you, even if there was a legal right to investigate. But I have an idea for another investigation for you. Why don’t you investigate whether it’s a good or bad thing to attack a major donor to Jewish causes and their key projects for no reason other than disagreement with how they spend their money? After all, what’s another American donor providing funds for young Jewish men and women who seek to be involved in Jewish life or who seek to sponsor worthwhile and interesting cultural activities that don’t appeal to you or to Mike Darnell?

    I mean, just because somebody is creating a network of hundreds of connected, active, intelligent, motivated young Jews from all over the world and seeding their projects, motivating them by encouraging their work and offering opportunities to learn how to grow their endeavors, that doesn’t mean that we should honor or respect that senile benefactor, right? I mean, what assholes they must be to spend too much money on Tel Aviv companies instead of Jerusalem companies.

  • Is it the odor of “Professional Jew” I smell?

    The reek of poop on the tuches-lekking tongues of low ranking courtiers trembling at the thought of someone daring to question their protege?

    Or just the stench of fear at the the thought that someone has kicked the lid of a can of worms that someone was trying to market as a box of chocolates?

    I have no problem with senile old benefactors.
    It’s the leeches that live off them and cut off the circulation to truly deserving causes that make me sick.

  • Mike – you sound like every envious, starving artist I’ve ever met. Take care of your own shit, you’ll live longer.

  • @Jordan

    Hungry people usually have nothing to lose and that’s a major advantage basically.

    One the other hand, you know, hungry, poor and such, we should get rid of them ASAP. They just hold us back for no reason.

  • “Take care of you own shit” = Don’t rock the boat, the nice people are making money?

    “Take care of your own shit” = Who cares about the truth, the lies are far more profitable for us?

    “Take care of your own shit” = Great message for a post that is extolling the virtue of an organization supposedly meant to foster the community.

    “Take care of your own shit” – Did you actually write that!?!?

    Tell me Jordan how many parcels of basic food products could have been purchased for the price of a single air-fare of the type that ROI funds for its participants?

    Have you seen the pictures from Monday’s demonstration in Jerusalem. Did you see the nice little old ladies COLLECTING ROTTING TOMATOES TO EAT?!?

    You see Jordan, as a starving artist I AM taking care of my own shit.

    I’m questioning the validity of the cause that is milking a generous benefactor whose assets would have been better allocated if only a bunch of spoiled lazy leeches weren’t so professional at securing their meal tickets.

    …Oh and thanks for promoting my art.
    Apropos that: My print Ahmadinejad’s Daughter just got published in a European Art magazine. D’ya think perhaps the publicity that generates for Israel’s plight with a nuclear Iran might warrant a grant from ROI?
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/israeli-art/3678251288/in/set-72157620807256102

    I’ll bet you a slap in the belly with a wet fish that ROI can’t handle this kind of criticism and heaven forbid it should ever reach the ears of the nice little old lady that foot their bills.

    Sheesh! The asininity one has to put up with on the web…

  • Mike, please don’t take this personally because I actually like you even if I thought your comments above are ridiculous.

    I have no connection to Lynn Schusterman. I have no connection to ROI. I have no connection to any Jewish non-profit. I don’t work in the non-profit world and do not benefit from the non-profit world. I give money to some non-profits, but my contribution is so minor that it is only useful for them when they sell a mailing list or tout the numbers of donors they have.

    In other words, I have no dog in this fight. I certainly don’t need to brown-nose to gain favor with anybody.

    I don’t even subscribe to many of the ideas ROI alumni conceive or pursue and can think of more efficient uses of the money.

    However, I see the real value of ROI and other projects run by the Schusterman Foundation as being a source of strengthening Jewish communal life in Israel, North America and other parts of the world. There may be hits and misses, but overall, these are worthwhile activities that have and continue to create a useful and important network of active, young Jews of all political and religious stripes. Considering the difficulties the Jewish communities outside of Israel are having in maintaining a connection among younger Jews to Jewish life and to Israel, Schusterman’s projects are a huge mitzvah.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t be critical and call her senile. But when you do, I can call your comments the height of foolishness. You are missing the point entirely.

  • Yo the middle,

    1. Ms. Lynn Schusterman is a good little old lady who is trying to make the world a better place. She rocks to the max. I love her.

    2. I’m sure that some of the ROI people are great too.

    3. It’s the terrible ease with which these things become bloated and fat and corrupt that drives me nuts.

    Need an example?

    Why are ROI participants staying in a fancy-shmancy hotel and not housed somewhere cheap and modest, or even better, housed with families that would benefit from the experience?

    You said I miss the point.
    That may be true and it’s probably why i AM a STARVING artist.

    BUT…

    STARVING teaches you a thing or two.
    It teaches you about struggling, and fighting, and it helps you develop the skills required for truly affecting change.

    Good activists, like good artists, are lean-mean fighting machines. THEY ARE HUNGRY…

    … and the best way to ruin them is with the type of pampering that ROI seems to foster.

    Do you think the activists of the first Aliyah would have ever gotten round to doing anything important if they’d been pampered in a hotel for five days?

    I don’t.

    BTW whatever happened to discussing the facts behind Gojerusalem (…to Tel-Aviv, for $750,000)

  • PS
    Dear ROI “Professional Jew” participant please enjoy the gala at “Galina”, and while you’re at it ponder what the f*uck you’ve done to deserve it.

  • After a little fact finding mission on the BTW you mentioned Mike, here we go.

    Both GoJerusalem.com (the previous “non-affiliated” version although gojerusalem.com still does redirect to jerusalem.com) and Jerusalem.com were both built in Tel Aviv.

    First by Websense (http://websense.co.il/) and second by InManage (http://www.inmanage.com).

    I am sure both companies are great, their bid was fair and all that.

    Honorary Chairman of the StartUp Jerusalem Prof. Porter (A Harvard Business School Professor) is the inventor of “Cluster Methodology” and I quote from the website:

    “StartUp Jerusalem employs the proven “cluster methodology,” developed by Professor Michael Porter to encourage cooperation among all members of a particular industry cluster – from private sector firms in the industry, to suppliers, supporting and related industries, government, and specialist service providers such as educational and research institutions. This cooperation stimulates innovation, facilitates the creation of joint ventures, increases efficiency and improves access to specialized inputs. Typical cluster activities might include joint marketing or research & development activities, cooperation to provide training schemes for new employees or working together with academia to provide internship opportunities for students in local businesses.”

    http://startupjerusalem.org/jerusalemclusters.htm

    In conclusion:
    1. Can any Jerusalem based (local) business or educational facility step up and confirm they were invited to bid on this project or cooperate?
    2. Are there any businesses in Jerusalem that could compete with the above companies? If not, why not?
    3. How were these companies chosen to do the job? Was there a public tender for this project? What was the criteria at the time?
    4. Am I completely missing the point of “Cluster Methodology” so prominently advertised as the basis of StartUp Jerusalem?

  • Um, many of the ideas pursued by ROI alums don’t generate much money or income for them. What is so wrong about pampering them for a few days in nice hotels? This isn’t the First Aliyah and even if it were, would you begrudge those folks a few days in nice hotels because life needs to be hard all the time?

    You were on better footing when you said the organization spent too much for the website, although that was before we knew the price included the domain name.

    But why use Jerusalem artists and web designers when you can use Tiberias web designers? Where’s the respect? I mean, if you’re going to spend a small fortune in Jerusalem housing 120 participants and their hosts, not to mention feeding them, teaching them, transporting them, etc., then why be stupid and spend any money outside of Jerusalem. Why support other parts of Israel?

  • @themiddle Valid points.

    Beyond everything said, still a question lingers. What is ROI (a non-profit organization) doing supporting Jerusalem.com (a legitimate business)? Why? How? At which point in time, before or after Jerusalem.com “flipped” from non-profit to business?

    As I said before, I’d be more than happy to advance my ideas and efforts using non-profit support or making them “non-profit” initially so I can receive donations and all the help I can get from good-hearted and slightly senile American Jews that do think they are helping Israel, and they ARE by helping me… The truth actually being that all they want is a tax break, nothing more than that, so no harm there. We all win. And then when the time is right, in one swift move become a business, with a clean slate, no strings attached or obligations to anybody.

    I mean, this is pure genius if not more than that.

    I am open to suggestions and certainly willing to pursue such a relationship 🙂

  • Caput58 I think you’d make an excellent “executive director”.

    Only problem is you’d have to do “Yerida” (abandoning Israel as a your home – the opposite of Aliyah) if we’re to model your leadership on the career of the good Rabbi Yoni Gordis, head honcho at CLI (the organizers of ROI – is it just me or are all these acronyms damn annoying).

    Yes you see it seems the good rabbi no longer resides in Israel. At great personal cost this paragon of community service has chosen to make his residence in Vancouver Canada, because, as any professional Jew well knows, it’s much easier talking about Zionism than practicing it. After all Israel is a pretty tough place to live…

    I submit for review the Team page of the CLI web page. A fascinating read… http://www.leadingup.org/aboutCLI/our_team

    I’d like to suggest an organization we could start –

    TCFEPJFWTA-NGSTMGWSTBWNSFBDL

    The center for exposing professional Jews for what they are – no good sponges that my grandma would send to bed with no supper for being damn lazy.

    Doubt we’d get much funding but it’s worth a try.
    Only problem is I’m not sure what kind of business this can evolve into. That’s why I’m nominating you executive director…

  • @Mike Darnell

    You are tempting faith my friend. I was thinking of building a “Feed Mike Darnell” website / tribute today, I just might do it.

    I have your image “shopped” into a skinny guy already, it’s just a few lines of code away 🙂

  • For those of you missing the fun on Twitter:
    http://twitter.com/#search?q=pop_art%20roicom

    …Also
    FEM & CHAY is seeking RICH WIDOWS (preferably Jewish but if you’re filthy rich we can do evangelical Christian too) to purchase sundry URLs, businesses & real estate (preferably in Rechavia, but Talbiyeh is also cool).

    All this is for our non profit activity (although we might just turn into a business one day… Heck doing so much good for the community we deserve some ‘nachas’ for ourselves… Shit, who are you to meddle in our business anyway!?!)

    We promise that some of the funds (the extra funds) will go towards doing nice shindig-convention-seminar-networking-thingy in a nice sprakly hotel.
    You’ll be given opportunities to speak and, if you shell out enough money to fly in a bunch of bums, there’ll also be an audience to listen to what you have to say (mind you bums don’t come cheap these days and neitther does the staff required to lead them).

    We plan for the event: networking, social media, gala events, networking, schmoozing, carousing, social media, networking, community, leadership, schmoozing, tuches lekking, leadership, seminars, track facilitation bridge building, social media, executive directors, brown nosing and yet more gala events.

    In the timeless words of Josh Martin (Track Facilitator, Bridge Building):

    “Get Ready! We’re gonna have a good time!”

    Applications may be submitted at the Feed Mike initiative at this URL: http://www.renderedred.net/feed_mike

    For more details contact our social media experts @caput58 & @pop_art on Twitter or attempt bridge building to the nearest Track Facilitator.

  • During the night this came in from a ROIcomer:

    “…Not so sure why you’re spending so much energy complaining about something that probably has little impact on your immediate life…”

    um…

    I kinda believe that’s what TRUE activism is all about,
    so did a bunch of other people I’ve read about…

    BTW during the night us activists were very busy and came up with a new rallying song for #feedmike and the
    FEM & CHAY initiative:

    “♫ Oh #roicom won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz, Feed poor skinny Mikey & all of his friends…♫”

    Mike
    http://tr.im/feedme – no seriously dudes, FEED ME!
    http://DigitalArtPrintGallery.com

  • “I kinda believe that’s what TRUE activism is all about”

    Mike, I’m sorry but this made me laugh out loud. Of all the things to protest, you’ve decided that ROI is what you want to rail against?

    It’s your right, of course, but it reflects poorly.

  • Yo the middle,
    Whaddup dude?
    Thanks for commenting!

    I was thinking of making this an ongoing project.

    My own branch of activism so to speak.

    I figure shedding light on the hypocrisies, bloated mechanisms and corruptions that seem to plague so many Jewish NPOs these days is a worthy cause.

    I thinking of taking on “The Claims Conference” next.
    They’re a real “gem” already under heavy criticism from Holocaust survivor organizations, governments and the press.

    BUT…
    I’d be happy to consider other candidates you have to offer.

    More on the shenanigans of “The Claims Conference” here:
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1083989.html
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1208870516374&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/Printer
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,557447,00.html

    Mike
    PS
    Just a side note – not one ROIcomer has deigned to respond in any fashion to my plea for help for http://vered.org.il – sad…

  • Sure, why don’t you start with Muzzlewatch and then move on to the Palestinian National Authority. The first gets money from well-meaning leftist Jews and the latter gets moral support from Muzzlewatch and well-meaning leftist Jews and money from the US, EU and the UN.

  • When CK suggested I should apply for ROI last year, I told him that if I wanted to go on a trip, I’d cover my expenses myself. Considering that about half of the world’s Jewry lives below poverty line, it can quickly appear decadent that grants are used for trips of people that could easily pay for the fare themselves if they were determined to. So I can somewhat symapathise with Mike, and I think it’s only just fair towards the generous donor to ask whether the money is used frugally. There is no doubt that money is wasted elsewhere, but that doesn’t justify and relativise a possible waste of money on a pet project. Kelsey and I were having a conversation about these particular questions and EV’s apropos comic, and my conclusion was that in contrast to many others that have attended such events, EV actually does have an impact on the Jewish community. Other people cannot be expected to pay for my hobby, and if my hobby does not provide me a lifeline, I must keep it a hobby as dull as a regular job might be. I do a lot of artwork and have exhibited stuff several times, but all that is just a hobby; preserves intellectual independence, too.

  • “Adam & Eve” http://tr.im/qSBc and “Pharaoh’s Dream” http://tr.im/qUb6 were sold at the benefit to save Vered Cohen Marcus .

    The benefit, which as the photos http://tr.im/qWDX show was a huge success, was organized by a group of women who met on Ynet’s parenting forum.

    Guess what?
    They didn’t need to spend 5 days in a fancy hotel to do it and no one funded their air-fare or the babysitters they got to look after their kids while they put this together…

    My point – activism is about ACTION – not talk (no matter how sweet the vacation deal included).

    PS
    Yo The Middle:

    Goyim get to spend money on whatever they like.
    They ain’t my problem.
    My parasitic brethren are.

    Needless to say no help, assistance or donations were forthcoming from ROIcomers for Vered’s benefit.
    I guess talking about להציל נפש אחת בישראל is easier than actually doing something about it…

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