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Canadian attends conference with future Jewish leaders in Jerusalem

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Adam Moscoe sings at the ROI Summit in Jerusalem in June. (Chen Wagshall photo)

At the end of June, 150 young Jewish leaders from around the world gathered in Jerusalem for the 13th annual ROI Summit. Among them was Adam Moscoe, a public servant from Ottawa who works at Global Affairs Canada. He also spends much of his free time working on Jewish causes, including volunteering for Limmud Ottawa and organizing Broadway-style Kabbalat Shabbat services.

The ROI Summit is a yearly event that was started in 2006 by the Schusterman Family Foundation. It’s a sort of initiation into the ROI Community, an international network of young Jewish activists and entrepreneurs who work to foster Jewish engagement and social change.

“Whether it’s Birthright Israel, or Hillel, or Moishe House, what we’re trying to do is recruit the next generation of Jewish leaders that emerge from these large-scale outreach programs and build this global network of young Jewish leaders and activists,” said Justin Korda, executive director of the ROI Community. Korda resides in Israel now, but he is originally from Montreal and lived in Toronto for a few years, as well.

The third time’s a charm for Moscoe, who applied to the ROI Summit twice, before getting accepted on his third try.

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“As part of my extracurricular involvement in the Jewish community, I have always thought of interesting ways to learn about other young Jewish adults who can inspire me and give me great ideas about things to do here in Ottawa, and also in terms of (being) engaged as a Canadian Jewish young lay leader. So I was very lucky to get selected to join the ROI Summit,” he said.

But according to Korda, luck isn’t the reason Moscoe was selected.

“Adam Moscoe, I think, is a classic example of a young Jewish leader who is inspired by Jewish values to make a difference,” which is something ROI looks for among its members, said Korda. “Through much of his work that’s related to international aid and working in foreign policy in the Canadian government, he’s certainly someone who’s seeking to better the world.”

The ROI Summit hosted 150 Jewish people from nearly 30 countries – a third from North America, a third from Israel and a third from the rest of the world – from June 24-28. Moscoe said that the conference’s diversity was one of its biggest strengths.

Adam Moscoe is a classic example of a young Jewish leader who is inspired by Jewish values to make a difference.
– Justin Korda

One of his favourite parts of the conference were the “brain dates,” in which two members were paired up to speak with one another.

“I had brain dates with people from Israel, I had brain dates with people from all over the Diaspora … just really remarkable people who I would never have had a chance to meet,” he said. “I had a chance to meet people from Yad B’Yad schools, the network of Jewish-Arab schools, I had a chance to meet a professor from Herzliya and also the first Asian-American female rabbi.”

Moscoe hopes to use the lessons he learned at the ROI Summit to inform his future initiatives and expects to keep in touch with some of his new contacts. In particular, he met some people who are involved in Muslim-Jewish dialogue programs from around the world, which is something he’d like to get into and potentially even bring to Ottawa.

“That’s something that I’ve always been interested in, but have always been looking for the right outlet and I think this might be the right chance,” he said. “I think it’s so important to build understanding of our shared traditions and our shared values, Muslim and Jewish shared values, and to actually advance that into something practical.”

Moscoe and Korda both encourage other Canadians to apply to the ROI Summit. Moscoe was the only Canadian at the summit this year, but he says that everyone was very friendly to him, and that they recognized Canada as a great place to live, as both a young leader and a Jewish person.