Tikkun Olam: Responsibility to Repair the World
I had not heard the phrase Tikkun Olam until a week ago when I found myself in Tel Aviv, Israel surrounded by 50 incredibly talented and influential leaders of Latin American descent participating in the REALITY Adelante journey put on by the Schusterman Foundation.
Every year the Schusterman Foundation hosts REALITY journeys with different themes. These journeys are leadership development experiences, where participants are taken out of their comfort zones to face their own realities and challenge the way they see the world and themselves. I was honored to be included among the first Latin American focused trip, called REALITY Adelante, which means “to move forward or to get ahead” in Spanish.
The Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam refers to the responsibility that we all have to actively seek to repair the world and seeing how Israelis put this into practice really inspired me. This concept came to life throughout the seven intense days that the Schusterman Foundation curated for us. They taught us about Israel, its geopolitical context, religion, culture and identity.
During the trip, we participated in different leadership development assignments and engaged in daily practices of gratitude. Through these activities we were able to laugh, be vulnerable and quickly build rapport with each other, form friendships and reinforce our sense of purpose as leaders, citizens and human beings.
Each site we visited throughout the country – Jerusalem, Jaffa, Golan Heights, Masada, Dead Sea, Ramon Crater – was full of impactful stories and significance. A few of the highlights for me included celebrating my first Shabbat in Jerusalem at the Western Wall. I was deeply moved by the energy that night, how inclusive it was to some of us non-Jewish foreigners and how lively the atmosphere was, with both groups, men & women engaging in signing, dancing and reading.
Israel is considered the “Startup Nation” and given my daily role working with entrepreneurs as the Director of Babson College Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab® in Miami, I was excited to get a glimpse of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. I couldn’t ask for a better introduction than meeting Jon Medved, CEO of OurCrowd, considered one of the most influential Americans and a key player in the development of the Israeli tech ecosystem. Jon reminded us why Israelis are so successful at starting ventures: they take risks, question authority, think big and simply don’t care about failing. If they do, they just start again and again.
Young Israeli and Palestinian leaders from MEET “Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow” are so brave and inspiring. It was rewarding to hear that through entrepreneurship and building ventures together, these young entrepreneurs were collaborating for the first time with someone from the other side of the conflict.
A very special moment came towards the end of our journey, when we got to meet Holocaust survivor, Rina Quint at her home. Rina shared details of her horrible experience growing up in concentration camps, without her parents and her quest to find her roots and identity. She will never forget what happened to her and other members of the Jewish community, but she decided to move forward, to love and embrace life. I realize that our generation might be the last one to get to talk and hear survivors’ stories directly from them.
I will always be grateful to the Schusterman Foundation, to Seth Cohen, Yaniv Rivlin and Juan Mora, for this unique opportunity. I am certain that our newly formed support system of like-minded leaders has the ability to transform communities, the realities in our own countries, that together we can maximize our impact by collaborating and empowering each other.
I have no doubt that the experience in Israel has inspired us to seek more, to keep going forward “Adelante” and follow the Jewish example to repair the world…Tikkun Olam!