“And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them; and God said unto them: ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.’ “ (Genesis 1:27-28)
Mayim Bialik, familiar to most as Blossom from the 1990’s eponymous sitcom and Amy Farrah Fowler on the popular Big Bang Theory, has joined former British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Harvard lecturer Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar as co-chairs of a new Jewish entrepreneurial fellowship called Core18 Leaders Lab. The project, a fresh venture from JerusalemU, an online portal for Jewish distance learning, is accepting applications for 36 fully-funded fellowships to begin in the upcoming year. The three are supported by a veritable who’s who of Jewish leaders, educators and business people serving as advisors, teachers and board members for the program, including Malcolm Hoenlein, Natan Sharansky and Alan Dershowitz.
“To do great things in the world, we must first seek greatness within ourselves,” Bialik says in a Core18 promotional video.
“Today we need leaders, infused with a Jewish spirit and a Jewish passion, to bring the incredible energies of the Jewish people together to forge a Jewish future,” says Sacks.
The Times of Israel reported on a conference call held by Bialik just before Yom Kippur. “Core18 Leaders Lab is a mad scientist’s dream,” Bialik says. “We bring in emerging Jewish leaders and give them the connections, training and funding they’ll need to experiment with cool new ideas that can change the Jewish landscape.”
“It’s a unique hybrid of personal development, Jewish wisdom and an Accelerator, with world-renowned mentors, to help you become a great leader…” explains Ben-Shahar, also in promotional material.
According to Core18’s website, the goal of the program is “[t]o empower the next generation of Jewish innovators.
“The Jewish world needs new leaders. We have an historic vision of tikkun olam [repairing the world], an imperative to endow the world with an ethical and spiritual framework for personal excellence and global justice. But in our generation, as a people, we’ve lost that passion, pride and purpose in our mission. Today, we need ambitious and innovative leaders who appreciate Judaism’s values and teachings, who will create ventures that tackle our challenges and inspire Jews to reconnect to this purpose.”
The fellowship is designed in two phases. The first phase, called the Academy, consists of weekly two-hour webinars and periodic meetings of fellows and staff in their local communities, followed by an intensive, seven-week program in Israel. During the local segment of the Academy, fellows will conduct and present research on the field, as well as participate in regional and national conferences. During the Israel program, fellows will intern at an Israeli company, complete a leadership certificate at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, study Judaism, plan and execute a symposium and more.
The second phase is called the Accelerator, and is intended to support and accelerate the development of of a social venture, the culmination of the education and experience gained in the first phase. Fellows will be provided with access to seed money and mentors in the relevant fields. They will travel to Eastern Europe to see the impact of the Holocaust on today’s Jewish conscience and continue to network through ongoing online and in-person conferences and retreats. The name of the program reflects the goal of accelerating up to 18 projects in the second phase of the fellowship.
The fellowship is open to Jewish students and young professionals between the ages of 19 and 25 residing in the US, Canada, Britain or Israel. No previous Jewish experience of education is required. Applications are being accepted until October 15. Core18 is not affiliated with any other Jewish organization.