248 CAN Global Summit Bringing Innovative Jewish Ideas Together

Imagine you have an innovative idea for your Jewish community – a publication, a new organization, or a product. You pitch the idea locally, and hit a barrier: This could never work here. We tried something similar. We don’t have the resources.

248 Community Action Network (248 CAN), now finishing its first year, has a solution: Bring your ideas to a global sounding board.  Troubleshoot, gain a fresh perspective, re-work your idea, and pitch a new and improved version. In the process, strengthen connections between Israelis and diaspora Jews, building a global network of Jewish doers.

Local community members Greg Arenson, Josh Awend, and Libby Parker – as well as participants from around the world – have been focusing on their ideas for 10 months and are set to debut their projects at the 248 CAN Global Summit this month in Minneapolis. In January the trio traveled to Israel with their ideas – some more fleshed out than others – ready to brainstorm and strategize with peers and experts from around the world.

Following a week of travel in Israel, meetings with social entrepreneurs, and an incredible Vikings playoff win (remember that?) at beloved Jerusalem bar Mike’s Place, the 248 CAN participants set up camp in the south of Israel for the highlight of their trip: the Do-a-thon.

This day-long work session in Sde Boker, a kibbutz in the Negev, gave participants the chance to dig into their projects and receive feedback from fresh perspectives.

Parker, who is using the 248 CAN experience to explore an expanded TC Jewfolk, found working through some of her barriers with community leaders enlightening.

“I came into the trip thinking ‘how can we do better or bigger?’ After the trip, I have some more insight into how we can expand the Jewfolk model. And we even talked through how something like TC Jewfolk might work in Israel,” said Parker.

The process looked different for Greg, who found himself pivoting from his original idea.

“I’m interested in a spiritual community of young adults  who may not be affiliated with any synagogue or organization,” said Arenson. “But my idea of what that looks like changed over the course of our trip.”

The conversations with other leaders were frustrating and messy at times, but they only served to inspire Greg. “I feel a renewed sense to be involved with and contribute to the big picture and long-term Jewish community.”

Awend agreed. “I found it inspiring to see how people are using Jewish values to do something,” he said. He found not only inspiration but content, in Israel: he already has 20 interviews completed for his podcast initiative, Our Stories (the first two episodes are currently available to download). “My goal is to highlight positive Jewish experiences and identify with each other on a basic level of being Jewish.”

Since the Do-a-thon, Greg, Josh, and Libby have continued working on their projects and kept in touch with the contacts they made while abroad. This week, their 248 CAN experience culminates the Global Summit, where participants from Israel and across North America will travel to Minneapolis to share their final projects – watch for the first look right here on TC Jewfolk.

248 CAN is a Partnership2Gether program of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, the Jewish Agency for Israel, in partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation.