Other Jews Need Us. Now Is the Time to Step Up.
At a panel at Yeshiva University's Beren campus on Oct. 26, Moshe Bellows, Bruce Targain and I discussed venture capital, innovation and the responsibility of YU university students to create the future. I wanted to follow up on the panel with both a quick summary and a call to arms.
As Jews, we are instructed to take responsibility for the other. Sometimes these others are our brothers and sisters, sometimes they are the less fortunate of society and sometimes they are society as a whole. That affirmative commandment demands of us to create the future — a better future.
In today's very complex and challenging environment, that directive is more canonical and salient than ever. Your brothers and sisters on college campuses across America are under attack. They are under attack from woke and antisemitic forces that are scapegoating Jews and Israel for everything. They are spread out and divided across college campuses in the United States, much like the Jews of Persia were scattered across the empire’s 127 provinces. It is that separation and division and the loneliness that accompanies it that makes Jews on campuses vulnerable. Since no one has turned up to stand by their side, the attacks continue unabated, rendering their lives highly uncomfortable.
If you take your responsibility to be responsible Jews seriously, you cannot sit on the YU campus while this is happening to other Jews on other campuses. When I was in Yeshiva University, students led missions to the former Soviet Union to take responsibility for their brothers and sisters. When Scud missiles fell on Tel Aviv, Yeshiva University students led planeloads of other students to Israel, sometimes against the wishes of their parents and the YU administration. Antisemitism on campus is your Russia. Anti-Israel bias on campus is your Scud missiles. You cannot sit in your communities of Teaneck, the Five Towns or Los Angeles, or the YU campuses in New York, and not turn up in person on these other campuses. You must leave the beit midrash, the classroom and your comfortable dorms and turn up alongside your brethren: Shomrei achichem atem.
The second point is you have been given an opportunity where the tools of technology are at your disposal. Slowly but surely, this Orthodox Jewish institution — under the leadership of President Berman and Sy Syms School of Business Dean Noam Wasserman — is embracing technology and the jobs of the technological tomorrow. These are tools of immense creative power. With proper intent, content and creativity that is focused on Jewish values and positive innovation, these powerful and wide-reaching software tools enable you to create a better future on college campuses, for Jews generally and for the entire world — all from your desktop. We need to double down on these efforts in order to deepen our engagement with the job opportunities and creative possibilities afforded by advancing technology, while at the same time bringing the timeless wisdom of the Torah to form the timeless principles that accompany this almost all-powerful innovation. We must jump headfirst into this, so that our Torah-based timeless values push humanity forward.
If you want to live in the future, it is at the intersection of technology and the future of the Jewish people — the State of Israel. I invest in technology and live in Israel because I want to live in the future, and because I believe the future for our people is bright. With your help, the Jewish people from the State of Israel can become a creative beacon for humanity, solving real problems with these immense tools for the world population at large. Like the prophet Isaiah says, and as we can finally do, we can spread out the timeless principles of Hashem and the Torah to the world, via technology. After taking responsibility for our brothers and sisters per the above, we can become an or lagoyim.
We are all connected. We are all challenged now. The Jewish future and the future of technology and innovation are being created as we speak. This demands that we (you) take responsibility and action to create your future, the future of the Jewish people and the future of humanity, and, at the same time, turn up in person on behalf of our people wherever they are. Good luck and Godspeed.
P.S.: There is funding available for anyone taking up the challenge to stand by our brothers and sisters on college campuses in a concerted and persistent manner.
Michael Eisenberg is a former editor in chief of The Commentator, a partner at venture capital fund Aleph and author of the recently published book, “The Tree of Life and Prosperity: 21st Century Business Principles from the Book of Genesis.”
Photo Caption: YouTube screenshot from a fireside chat on Oct. 26 with Michael Eisenberg, Moshe Bellows and Bruce Taragin.
Photo Credit: The Commentator