On the lovely spring day of April 6th, Wexner Israel Fellowship Class 27 traveled from Cambridge to New York City for a two-day institute.  This was a unique opportunity for grasping new perspectives on our public service-inspired journey. Our first day was dedicated to an enlightening engagement between our class and NY-area Wexner Heritage Program alumni, and the second day included meetings with leaders from various sectors in NYC who are deeply committed to the public good. 

On Thursday morning, the eight members of our class gathered in the beautiful atmosphere of the Bronfman Center, near New York University, for deep discussion and some creative activity together with eight distinguished alumni of various Wexner Heritage classes.  Divided into small groups of Americans and Israelis, we shared our ideas and perspectives about public service in our own communities, the connections between Israeli and North American Jewish communities, the things we can learn from one another and the collaborations and bridges that we can strengthen between the two communities.

We were fortunate to reach high levels of trust and openness in a short period of time, and to be able to talk about difficult issues on which we had diverse views.  One of the most exciting parts of the day was a unique activity in which pairs of one Israeli fellow and one Heritage alum created an art installation in silence, from various objects that resembled their own interpretation of Tikun Olam.  Listening to each pair’s explanation about their own view of Tikun Olam was a very powerful moment that enabled all of us to open up, share and absorb new outlooks in different layers of abstraction.

The day culminated at the beautiful home of Skip (WHP, MetroWest) and Ilana Vichness, who generously hosted us all for a delicious dinner and some extraordinary bourbon, allowing more time for strengthening our connections in a lighter atmosphere.

On Friday, we wanted to seize the opportunity of our institute’s location and meet unique leaders whose work has made a difference in New York City and beyond. We started our day with a visit to the New York Times headquarters, as guests of Jodi Rudoren, the Deputy International Editor and former Jerusalem bureau chief.  We were lucky enough to attend their morning editorial meeting, getting a glimpse into how the most important newspaper in the world decides its daily agenda.  Following the meeting, we discussed the challenges of journalism today with Jodi and its significance in public life in light of her experience in leading positions at the newspaper.

Our day continued with a fascinating visit to the NYPD headquarters, where we met some very inspiring police officers who have led the organization to become one of the most successful police departments in the world, dramatically reducing crime rates in NYC.  Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker shared the vision and current challenges of NYPD.  Deputy Commissioner for IT, Jessica Tisch, introduced us to the innovative solutions the department is using and we were all very impressed by the strong cooperation that was created between IT project managers and field officers in order to adapt the most advanced technologies to the exact needs in the field.

Last but not least we visited the Robin Hood Foundation, a lighthouse of education, generosity and care for the most marginalized communities in NYC, investing more than 100 million dollars annually to fight poverty.  We were all moved by the fascinating discussion with David Saltzman, the co-founder and director of the foundation.  David shared with us his empowering life story of taking a dream and making it into a marvelous reality.

This Institute helped us translate things we discussed in theory all year into concrete models and got us thinking about implementing our own passions as we get ready to return to Israel.

Jonathan Tadmor-Eliya is Director of the Economics Department at the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s office (Taxation and Economic), where he has served as a prosecutor since 1998.  Jonathan specialized in handling large-scale cases of white-collar offenses.  He was the head of the prosecution team of the “Holyland” case, which was considered a milestone in the struggle against corruption in Israel and one of its most significant criminal cases.  Jonathan has won the Ministry of Justice’s Excellence Award twice — as a team member of “The Bank of Commerce” embezzlement prosecution team in 2004 and as a team leader of the “Holyland” case trial in 2013.  Jonathan holds an LLB from the College of Management and an LLM from Bar Ilan University.  Born and raised in Ramat Gan, Jonathan resides in Tel Aviv with his partner Aviad and their children Aya and Yotam.  He can be reached at tadmorj@gmail.com.

Tomer Sharoni has served in several R&D, product and project management positions in the Prime Minister’s Office since 2004 and is currently a Technical Group Leader.  His academic studies were under the auspices of the selective Talpiot program, during which he earned a BSc in Computer Science, Physics and Math from Hebrew University.  Acquiring knowledge in strategic thinking, system analysis and management, Tomer went on to command a class of Talpiot cadets, with the goal of developing their leadership potential and commitment to personal excellence.  A Tel Aviv native, Tomer currently resides there with his wife Ada and daughter Stav.  In his free time, Tomer enjoys cooking, hiking, scuba diving and playing jazz on the piano.