A Launchpad for the future

Innovating for the future of Jewish life in Australia at last year’s LaunchPad retreat. From left: Andy Gild, Nomi Blum and Lisa Silver. Photo: Dean Schmideg.

SOCIAL justice, Jewish communal life and entrepreneurship are some of the many topics that will be explored at the Australian Jewish Funders’ (AJF) LaunchPad retreat in May.

Held in the Mornington Peninsula, the three-day annual event unites passionate Jews from across Australia to innovate for a stronger Jewish community.

Through inspiring speakers, incubators and workshops, the participants are groomed for leadership and given the opportunity to nurture their ideas to become agents of change in the Jewish community and beyond.

Attracting professionals, volunteers, thinkers, activists and entrepreneurs, the group will spend time networking, innovating and inspiring each other.

While traditionally geared towards young adults, last year LaunchPad welcomed anyone above the age of 22 to join the ranks of communal change-makers.

Discussing the program, AJF CEO Tracie Olcha said, “Over the last two years we have seen the LaunchPad community step up as agents of change in Jewish life and support each other with a culture of reciprocity.

“More and more people are searching for meaningful community engagement, and LaunchPad provides a platform for individuals to search for this meaning and be part of a nurturing and supportive community with like-minded peers.”

Since the last LaunchPad retreat, many of the 90 participants have gone on to produce projects aimed at improving the general and Jewish communities, including initiatives to engage the Jewish youth in communal life, help the disadvantaged and unite the various factions of the community.

Through financial assistance and ongoing support from AJF, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, JCA and the Shalom Institute, the programs envisioned during the retreat become reality.

Melbourne participant Dalia Gross – founder of the Juice Project, a program designed to reach out, connect and inspire disadvantaged Jewish youth – described LaunchPad as “truly extraordinary”.

“[It] has provided a platform to work with an amazingly giving, gifted and driven group of people … It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” Gross said.

Olcha added, “What makes LaunchPad unique is the fact that the focus is on the participants and their potential to bring change to Jewish life in Australia.”

ZOE KRON

LaunchPad 2016 is from May 15-17. Applications close March 14. For more information or to apply, visit www.launchpadoz.org or contact Natalie Rathner at [email protected].