Cool to the core


They are calling it “cutting edge.” They are looking for innovation. They are hoping to find young people who have talent, passion and a desire to make a difference in the Jewish world.

They — the leaders of Jerusalem U (formerly Jerusalem Online) — are the founders of a new social entrepreneurial boot camp for select Jewish leaders ages 19 to 25. It’s called CORE18 Leaders Lab, and it’s free.

The program, which was formally announced during a recent conference call, is being co-chaired by actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik, emeritus Chief Rabbi of England Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Harvard University professor Tal Ben-Shahar.

According to Jerusalem U Founder and CEO Raphael Shore, CORE18 is a full-scholarship program that aims to create driven, out-of-the-box social entrepreneurs who will both develop new game-changing enterprises for the Jewish world and infuse new ideas into existing infrastructure.

“We said, ‘How are we going to encourage, find and accelerate young people who could become effective social entrepreneurs in the Jewish world, who will come up with ideas better than anything we have developed?’ ” Shore said. “There is so much room for new ideas.”

Bialik, who was contacted by the team shortly after Shore, Sacks and Ben-Shahar created CORE18, immediately got excited about being a part of the initiative. Bialik, who herself is someone who became inspired by Judaism and Jewish identity, “has a lot to offer,” said Shore. “She has done quite a bit of learning herself, she has become much more committed [to Judaism] based on what she has learned. She can talk about the [Jewish] ideas she finds relevant to her.”

Bialik, in an email interview, said that “CORE18 Leaders Lab is a mad scientist’s dream. … 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.

“To do great things in the world, we must first seek greatness within ourselves,” she said. “CORE18 is about daring to be more, to do more and to achieve more than you ever thought possible.”

CORE18 is in-line with the general philosophy of Jerusalem U, which was launched four years ago. The purpose of Jerusalem U is to try to bring fresh ideas to Jewish and Israel education so that young people can get a sense that being Jewish and the state of Israel are relevant to their lives. The program takes advantage of film and technology sharing to bring the best educators in the Jewish world to formal and informal classroom settings. Teachers have included Ben-Shahar, Alan M. Dershowitz, Bernard Lewis and Dore Gold.

“We have had a tremendous amount of success in a short time. We have had over 100,000 hours of studying among the college market, have been in 300 camps this past summer and are in over 100 schools,” said Shore.

Jerusalem U came up with the inspiring documentary Israel Inside, which has been shown across the country and seen by several million people.

“We are making more and more products, and we think we are on to something exciting and special,” said Shore, noting that CORE18 is the organization’s latest brainchild.

Applications are now being accepted for the CORE18 Leaders Lab and must be submitted by Oct. 15. Thirty-six young adults will be accepted to the seven-week program, which will include regional and national conferences, weekly webinars and the opportunity for personal mentorship and to meet with great local, national and Israeli leaders. There will also be a trip to Israel.

In addition, the program will offer 18 of the students a second phase, an accelerator phase, during which they will be provided with a second year of learning and seed money to help them launch their specific project.

Said Shore: “We hope that the seven months will have a profound impact on the participants and inspire many of them to go on and do great things.”

Learn more about CORE18 and apply at

Maayan Jaffe is editor-in-chief at WJW’s sister publication, the Baltimore Jewish Times.

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