You Say You Want A Revolution

glassenbergWhat do video games, JDate and a group of young emerging leaders have in common?
Sam Glassenberg.
You may not recognize the name, but since Glassenberg’s Eli Talk (basically a nice Jewish Ted Talk) he has become a leading influencer among young Jewish leaders. In his talk, Glassenberg speaks passionately about innovative ideas to build Jewish community for the next generation. Surprisingly, his professional background isn’t in the Jewish communal field – it’s in video games.
So where does JDate come in?
Glassenberg, a JDate success story and CEO of Israeli video game company Funtactix, claims that JDate is  better at  growing Jewish communities than Hillel or Birthright. He believes the online dating service has created a Jewish experience so valuable that millions of people are not only opting in, they’re paying for it.
If JDate can help solve a global problem by focusing on a consumer need, says Glassenberg, there are other solutions out there. “There’s an arsenal of exciting ideas within our grasp,” he says.
This sentiment was the perfect message to inspire the members of Federation’s new initiative, The Revolution. The Revolution empowers its participants to redefine the Jewish community of the future, inspired by a steady trend of younger generations opting out of Jewish experiences.
Glassenberg spoke at the program’s Inaugural Summit, an event designed to spark a discussion about innovation, introduce the Revolution curriculum, and allow participants to meet their peers.  The Summit launched the two-year program incorporating case studies, provocative speakers, and field experiences of the work and impact of the Jewish community. Having explored leadership, communal needs and engagement models, Revolution graduates will redefine the way young Jews engage –and lead—within the community.
Revolution participants bring a majority of their professional skills, knowledge and experiences from outside of the Jewish community; all of which, in Glassenberg’s opinion, can be applied to solving Jewish problems and creating valuable Jewish experiences.
At the Inaugural Summit, Glassenberg offered the example of engaging children in Jewish history by creating a mainstream video game where characters navigate through traditional Jewish stories.  The idea was natural for someone who creates games for a living.
“But ask an expert in any other industry,” says Glassenberg, “and they will come up with better ideas to solve even bigger problems.”
And that’s what the 34 members of the Revolution hope to do.