by Steve K. Walz, Jewish Press Israel Correspondent | JewishPress.com | June 15, 2011
JERUSALEM - A perfect storm of converging international business conventions and organizational meetings filled Jerusalem and Tel Aviv hotels to capacity this week as Israel became the focal point for some of the world's most important Jewish decision-makers.
Perhaps the most innovative confab took place in Jerusalem, where more than 150 Jewish social and business entrepreneurs, along with cutting-edge technology prodigies from China, Brazil, Australia, North America and Israel, participated in the ROI Global Summit of Young Jewish Innovators.
The fledgling global ROI Community currently consists of 600 social entrepreneurs and Jewish innovators in 40 countries on six continents who are creating unique concepts to connect and shape Jewish life in the 21st century.
"These young Jewish social entrepreneurs are transforming the Jewish world through their vital initiatives and commitment to tikkun olam, repairing the world," said Lynn Schusterman, the American Jewish philanthropist who in 2005 created ROI Community as a partnership with Taglit-Birthright Israel.
ROI Community has played an integral role in providing initial seed funding for Jewish start-ups such as MoisheHouse, Jewcology, Omanoot.com and Haggadot.com. ROI also offers an expansive Micro Grants program to help ROI members turn ideas into actual meaningful projects.
Michal Ansky, one of the Israeli participants in the ROI Global Summit, is on a fast track toward becoming an innovator of new gastronomic experiences for Israelis as well as Jews throughout the world. The 30-year-old daughter of a best-selling Israeli cookbook author and granddaughter of a Bible scholar who taught David Ben-Gurion, Ansky earned a Masters in Gastronomic Sciences from the Slow Food University of Italy. Along with her husband and a close friend, she recently opened Shuk Hanamal, the first indoor fresh seasonal produce market in the trendy Port of Tel Aviv promenade.
The market features fresh fruits and vegetables, which are brought directly from the fields on a daily basis, boutique European and Israeli cheeses, an American deli, a butcher and fresh fish stalls, one of which features Ansky's mother serving up homemade herring delicacies on Friday mornings.
"You can even find top quality glatt kosher products as well," Ansky told The Jewish Press. Ansky's growing popularity is such that her rookie debut as a culinary judge on Israel's interpretation of the hit TV series "Master Chef" in late 2010 led to an appearance on the American version, which will be seen on Fox next month.
"I think the ROI Global Summit is a terrific idea, because it allows young and interesting people to come up with innovative ideas on how to build things, whether in business, culture or food," said Ansky.
"I would love to create a culinary dialogue with my colleagues all over the world. Israel is a small place with a terrific culinary heritage. I'm proud of the great kitchens we have here and I think it's very important for Jews all over the world to visit Israel, not just for the historical or religious encounters but also for the fascinating gastronomic experiences, which is one of the reasons why I created the Shuk Hanamal. It's literally a playground for anyone who truly loves food."