Rothschild Fellowship Brings Jewish and Muslim Social Entrepreneurs Together at Business School

Rothschild Fellowship Brings Jewish and Muslim Social Entrepreneurs Together at Business School

This program is really about you. It’s your
and after these two weeks together you are a community who should function
together and will work together and you will create new projects together. The program involving the social entrepreneurs
started around two-and-a-half years ago. The decision of Ariane de Rothschild herself
and also the director Firoz Ladak to look at what they’ve been traditionally doing –
this is interfaith dialogue – and to say what else can we do to try
a new way of approaching this problem. So the innovation was to take this dialogue
and then transport it through social entrepreneurship. This is entrepreneurs who are doing
good things for the world. When it finally came back to me
and to Columbia – we’re now talking about a year-and-a-half ago –
they wanted us to be the party which delivered the actual business content,
the social entrepreneurship content. But they also wanted Cambridge to come in
and provide content involving issues of Islamic history or Jewish history,
and we got great people into the room because there was an amazing selection process. Behind this were hundreds of inquirees. The actual number of applications
was over 180, and only 28, 29 people were chosen to come. The Rothschild Fellowship has been amazing
an experience in terms of bringing together a whole range of different people. We have people from France,
from England, and from America. We have Jews and Muslims and people
from other cultural backgrounds. We have social entrepreneurs,
people who are coming at it – who work in charities and are trying
to increase the enterprising element of their charities. We have people coming at it
from a business angle who are trying to increase the social impact and the charitable
work of their businesses. And in amongst all this mix has been
incredible creativity and incredible positive vision of the way things can be different
in the future. Columbia University is a good location
to host a program like this one. I mean, here we are, a group
of 30 individuals roughly from Paris, from the UK, and from the United States,
and we’re exchanging lots of different ideas. But that’s theory, that’s theoretical. I think that the complementary component
that the location that Columbia helped to provide the program was that we were able
to do field trips. Being in New York City has been wonderful
not just for me but for all the fellows because it’s such a diverse city. It’s not a city that doesn’t know Muslims
and doesn’t know Jews. The Muslim-Jewish piece of the program
was very appealing to me because I have been doing work in inter-religious dialogue
for a number of years. It goes back to my time
as an undergraduate at Columbia. And this was a wonderful opportunity
to combine the dialogue piece with the actual promise of doing stuff together. And I think why this program is unique
is that what brings these people into this room is not just that they’re Jewish and Muslim. I think if it was just a Jewish-Muslim dialogue,
I know I wouldn’t be there. I know many others I’ve spoken to
wouldn’t be there. But the social entrepreneurship aspect,
what it does is it provides a platform for all of us to be in the same room
to unite on that, right? Not on that we all believe we wanna
hold hands and sing Kum-Ba-Ya. It’s no, it’s – this is an actual, you know,
we have problems, and we’re trying to create innovative solutions to those problems
using the market, using all these different, you know, what makes a social entrepreneur
unique. And in that sense, I think we have
an interesting platform to really come together and talk about those issues. Because a lot of times when you work
on these issues, on, you know, social problems, addiction, homelessness, sometimes you feel
very alone because they’re not really, frankly, very sexy issues to work on. They’re very hard topics. Not everybody feels alone
but it’s good for them it’s good for people from different communities
to see how many people are working on similar issues. And this is what we’re looking for
where there’s a community of folks who are just gonna call back upon us
hopefully ’cause the faculty had so much fun coming to know them
but also will call each other and will work upon common projects. And the hope is, you know, not only
will that improve their organizations but will bring Jews and Muslims closer too
and create bonds which perhaps are harder to forge just in the context of dialogue alone. There’s much more we have in common. We are transnational communities,
we are minority communities, we are communities that share an emphasis
on lived religion as much as faith-based religion, and so when we develop our enterprises
it’s inspiring to see how we bring people together and we mobilize them
to make real change in the world. Not just to change what people think,
but to change what they do. We all share something in common. We’ve got vision, a different vision
and we want to work for that so this is something very important
to this program. No matter the country you come from
or the religion we have, we shared this – we all volunteered to turn something at our
level. So I’m really happy to be here. This is the end of a two-week period. It started early every day and ended late. Packed schedule, but I think that
for other people who are social entrepreneurs interested in really changing the world,
interested in engaging in activities that really get at the human essence
and what we’re all really here for, I think that this is a good thing
to be involved with. So at the end we all walked away
more knowledgeable, if you wish, in terms of life experiences
and if you notice I put myself in this experience as well because it was so –
I think that was the general experience for faculty and for the students as well. And then what you saw was this excitement
of people who spent two intense weeks together forming friendships,
forming alliances, talking about ways to improve their organizations,
to improve their businesses, so the real excitement is not only
what happened in these two weeks but going forward how much energy
is gonna carry over and sustain this community over time.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. go fuck yourself Rothschild, you are the enemy of the planet and your time is coming to an end. Believe that you piece of shit.

  2. This sounds like social engineering based on ancient superstitions for profit. I wonder why no Mormons or Scientologists were invited…

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