Israeli President Shimon Peres met with the graduating Wexner Heritage Members at their Israel Institute last week.

“Hear the whisper from the angel that compels you to grow.”

Rabbi Elka Abrahamson, who helped lead our visit to Israel, and whose leadership and humanity I admire and adore, offered the advice above before we set out to explore this country.  I took the advice, “to hear the whisper from the angel that compels you to grow”, and now come home more than ten days later, different. “Updated,” perhaps. I’ve seen a side of Israel I’d never seen before, and the experiences affirmed for me my belief in Israel, the legitimate longing by nearly all for a real, lasting peace, and in the power of people ​— from all walks of life — to achieve new levels of equality and justice for those who’ve been denied both for too long.

What I grew into was an even firmer belief in the unique role that women and young people play in change. In Israel, as has been the case in my own work at home, it’s women and younger people (but again, mostly women) who are pushing through the walls that stop most other leaders from marching forward to real change. Most get to those walls and think, “We’ve gone as far as we can go, though we should celebrate the progress we’ve made.” That’s an insufficient result for the women I see leading in Israel and back home. They know that on the other side of those walls is what is right and just, and they ought not stop, however towering or fortified those walls are.

There is hope in Israel, and when peace and justice for all does arrive, I suspect it will be by the strength and determination of women. I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude to so many for this trip, most especially for my wife, The Wexner Foundation and its staff and the dear friends who traveled with me. It’s a blessing to have seen Israel in the way in which we did, to have had the time I did with people I love and respect and to be heading home to my wife and children.

Greg Landsman, a brand-new Heritage alum (Cincinnati 13), currently serves as the Executive Director of The Strive Partnership, an education consortium working to improve academic achievement and fight poverty along the education continuum in the urban core of the Cincinnati region. Previously, Greg was appointed Director of the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives by Governor Ted Strickland in October of 2007 and Chair of the Ohio Anti-Poverty Task Force in May of 2008. ​He serves on the Board of Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council. Greg has a BA from Ohio University and an MA  from the Harvard Divinity School. Greg co-wrote a Harvard Kennedy School Case Study, “Mapping Your Community’s Faith-Based Assets,” which was published in 2006. Greg can be reached at