Birthright Israel, the largest provider of cultural trips in the world, hosted its 2018 Excelerate18 Summit this past weekend, from Nov. 3-4, at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City.
The summit is the premiere business leadership convention for a growing international body of young professionals and students interested in entrepreneurship, technology, global business and the flourishing North America-Israel relationship.
Headlining this year’s event were keynoters Daniel Doctoroff, chairman and CEO of Sidewalk Labs; Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media; and World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder, who delivered addresses on entrepreneurship, community-building and the work-life balance. Consul General of Israel in New York Dani Dayan and Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark also spoke.
“Connectivity and flexibility allows others to project their dreams and visions,” said Doctoroff. “In New York, you’ve always seen capital follow culture.”Named “Excelerate18,” this year’s annual Birthright Israel Excel Summit also covered topics including cyber security, community-building, digital health-care innovation and cryptocurrencies.
Zuckerberg joked that “I lived in Silicon Valley for 15 years before I made aliyah to the Upper West Side.” She encouraged participants by noting that “the job you are going to have in 10 years doesn’t exist today. … This is a perfect time to take risks.”
The two-day program consisted of a dinner and networking reception on Saturday night, followed by a full day of content featuring some of the world’s most innovative entrepreneurs and businesspeople. Sunday’s agenda included panels and fireside chats from forward-thinking executives at companies including Citi, IBM, Flatiron Health, Team 8, Talkspace, RO, Parachute Health and more.
Lauder said that Israel-Diaspora engagement in business and development as exhibited by these high-powered leaders — and in all matters — is crucial to the future.
“You are all in a position to get involved, to give to charity. Start today, do everything you can,” he said at the summit. “You were given one of the greatest gifts when you were born; it’s your birthright, and with this great gift comes great responsibility.”
Birthright Israel Excel is an elite lifelong business fellowship for Jewish college students and young professionals from North America and Israel. Founded in 2010, Excel enables its Fellows to participate in a 10-week professional development program in Tel Aviv, followed by ongoing community engagement. Excel Fellows gain access to world-class professional opportunities, mentorship with top-tier Israeli and North American business leaders, and social and philanthropic activities aimed at strengthening business ties between Israel and North America.
Since its inception, the program’s alumni community has grown to 675 Excel Fellows from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Israel; 90 Israeli mentors; and 30 North American advisers.