Ottawan Adam Moscoe was one of 150 young Jewish innovators from 28 countries around the world selected to participate in the 2018 ROI Summit held in Jerusalem from June 24 to 28. It was an opportunity, he said, to meet with other change-makers, gain new skills and find renewed inspiration.
This year’s five-day summit celebrated Israel’s 70th anniversary and the Jewish state’s accomplishments over seven decades, and focused on themes of dependence, independence and interdependence.
The ROI summit is the flagship program of ROI Community, an initiative of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.
Moscoe is currently completing the federal government’s Advanced Policy Analyst program. He said he wanted to attend the summit in order to “meet like-minded people from other countries” and get exposure to ideas for building Ottawa’s Jewish community.
This year marked the third time Moscoe had applied to attend the ROI Summit. With only 150 participants from around the world selected to attend each year, winning a spot is no easy accomplishment. Moscoe said this year when he applied, his focus was on being more open, and on discussing his involvement in the arts and theatre.
“I was more specific about the things I was involved in and what I wanted to do with it,” he said. “That’s the spirit of this program: to be open about yourself, to be vulnerable and to share what makes you who you are.”
Moscoe said the summit encouraged participants to build relationships with each other and form a “community of reciprocity.” He said it was structured in an “extremely open and flexible way,” giving participants the chance to shape the content through various interactive workshops.
“We had participants leading sessions. We had workshops on art and graffiti. I did a workshop on conducting music,” Moscoe said. “The whole idea was about being free and independent.”
One of the workshops, called “Open Space” had participants write down topics of discussion “whether it was abortion, how to start a business, or Israel-Diaspora relations,” according to Moscoe, and then choose which conversations they wanted to be a part of.
Moscoe said participants would place their phones in buckets beforehand so they would not be distracted during these conversations. Participants were also allowed to leave discussions without any repercussions or feelings of guilt. They called this the “law of two feet.”
Another workshop was “Asset Mapping,” where participants identified and discussed subjects they wanted to improve on. For example, Moscoe spoke about ways to balance personal life with extracurricular Jewish involvement, as well as how to improve on time management skills.
“Brain Dates” was a popular aspect of the summit. With the help of a phone app that listed all the summit attendees and their bios, participants reached out to and spoke with people they were interested in meeting.
“As opposed to a conference where you’re listening, this was about dynamic, direct conversations,” Moscoe said. He particularly enjoyed a brain date he had with Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdal, the first Asian-American to receive rabbinic ordination.
According to Moscoe, people enjoyed the brain dates so much that there were approximately 700 of them over the course of the summit.
Moscoe said one of the key things he took away from the summit was there are young people all over the world who love Jewish life. He said he saw examples of this at the summit, from Israeli cantorial singing to expressions of Iranian-Jewish culture.
Moscoe said he is looking forward to using his experiences from the summit to contribute to Ottawa’s emerging generation of young Jewish professionals.
Jewish continuity and engaging with Jewish culture is important, he said. “If you love Jewish life, then you need to share it. It’s our identity and culture. Nobody is going to keep it going except us.”