Thinking Innovation in Sophia, Bulgaria


This story comes to us from Junction, an initiative of the JDCYESOD and the Schusterman Foundation. Junction helps to support young European Jews in taking an active role in strengthening European and global Jewry. 

Julia Kerbel is currently president of IJAR, the Dutch Union of Jewish Students, and a third year Health Sciences student at Maastricht University. She is passionate about contributing to the Dutch and the international Jewish community, to strengthening it and to making it easier for others to become a part of it. Julia describes her experience at Junction's recent Rescape gathering below. 

Learn more about Rescape here!

1. Describe the moment during your Rescape experience that you found most meaningful—who was there, what were you doing and how did you feel?

The Rescape programme in Sofia Bulgaria opened the door into the Jewish start up world. It was incredibly inspiring to get a general overview of the diverse initiatives and the variety of approaches by all different kinds of organizations, community leaders and other motivated individuals in Europe. The experience that I found most meaningful was interacting with all of the inspiring people that participated in the Rescape programme. The weekend had a good balance between entertainment and serious activities.    

2. Rescape is modeled after a startup accelerator. How can Jewish social entrepreneurs channel the business sector in their efforts to better their communities?

Rescape provided the platform to plant ideas and provided the support for building strong and lasting roots in order for the ideas to grow and blossom throughout Jewish communities in Europe. Advice from specialists and other Jewish social entrepreneurs was an important feature of the Rescape weekend. In addition, knowledge from the start up world and the business sector provided Jewish social entrepreneurs with all the tools they need to succeed in their endeavor to better their Jewish communities.   

3. If you could encapsulate your Rescape experience to one word, what would it be and why?

Innovative: the concept of using a startup accelerator on Jewish social entrepreneurs is a new concept. In addition, all of the participants were selected based on their innovative ideas that needed further development and support. Most of the ideas were new and added value to the local Jewish communities.

4. How will you take the lessons you learned and apply them to your work at home? How will you share them with others?

Rescape was a mix of an informational, inspirational and entertaining summit with respect to Jewish traditions. Everything went well together. I will remember the very useful frameworks we learned about to help us structure projects and all the useful tips we got about startups and new ideas.

5. What did you most enjoy about visiting Bulgaria?

The traditional Bulgarian dinner with folk music was a very nice touch. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant. Also, it was very nice of the Rescape team to include a Martenitsa (Bulgarian spring bracelet) in the goodie bags we received upon arrival. 

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.