The following is an excerpt from The Jewish Week, 5/21/08
36 Under 36: The Next Wave of Jewish Innovators
by The Editors
They’re the community’s new young guns — forward-looking rabbis, social-justice junkies, campus crusaders, arts entrepreneurs, bridge-builders, new media mavericks and hedge-funders with heart — who are reshaping the landscape of Jewish life. They’re all grass-roots, bottom-up thinkers and doers who are (mostly) bypassing the Establishment and pushing for change — now. Brace yourselves.
Pioneering “social volunteering” among young, Jewish professionals
Ari Teman was tired of meeting the same group of people at parties. So he founded JCorps, the largest non-denominational Jewish volunteer organization on the continent, open exclusively to 18- to 28-year-olds. The only restriction? That they be single. (But they’re not singles events, he stresses. “We discourage that air of desperation.”)
JCorps volunteers meet, typically on Sundays, to feed the hungry at soup kitchens and food banks and entertain senior citizens at old-age homes and hospitals. Each volunteer receives a custom-designed JCorps shirt, free of charge. “People come for selfish reasons,” he says. “You meet other people, make business connections and get something out of it.”
It’s Charity 2.0 at its best; call it “social volunteering.” After signing up for an event on JCorps.org, Teman and his volunteer team will “friend” you on Facebook or ask that you send a picture. “We want to make sure that you’re not a 40-year-old man,” he says. JCorps uses the same technology that powers Gmail, so the second time you come back to the site to volunteer again, the form will be filled out for you.
Only a year old, JCorps has thousands of volunteers from more than 115 colleges and 300 companies, and is active in almost every state (and more than 20 countries). Teman markets JCorps by posting pictures from past events on Facebook. “More than 30 percent of volunteers show up because they saw a friend’s picture.”
Teman, who owns a consulting firm called 12gurus, regularly puts into practice the Website design, technology savvy and problem-solving skills he gains on the job. Last May, he and his firm raised nearly $500,000 for Meir Panim with an online art auction and wine sale at sensi6.org.
He’s a comedian, too. Seriously. Teman is a regular at Broadway Comedy Club and Stand-Up New York. He’s organized several comedy nights to raise money for charity.
Mailbox Full? Teman invented the patent-pending PhoneLobby, which connects supporter’s real phones via the Internet to their governmental representative. The “Callsforjerusalem” campaign used his technology to direct more than 10,000 calls to the White House in support of Israel. It was so successful, the White House’s call center kept dropping calls.
Online at: http://www.thejewishweek.com Wed, May 21, 2008