Talking with #MakeItHappen Micro Grant Recipient: Ophir Samson!


Dr. Ophir Samson is a senior associate at Social Finance Israel, which builds innovative financial products—Social Impact Bonds—to fund nonprofit organizations that tackle significant social issues, while delivering financial returns to investors. In his spare time, Ophir is a professional magician and salsa dance teacher and is passionate about behavioral economics and cosmology.

Ophir's idea to relaunch his Smadar School for Young Magicians in Tel Aviv was recently chosen to receive a $1,000 #MakeItHappen micro grant! To read more about his project and to volunteer to help him #MakeItHappen visit Ophir's idea page.

What three hashtags would you use to describe yourself?

#socialentrepreneur #magician #leadership

What inspired you to apply for a #MakeItHappen micro grant and what do you hope it will achieve?   I

was inspired to apply for a #MakeItHappen micro grant because the values of the Schusterman Foundation are in line with mine.

Plus it was an opportunity to relaunch my Smadar School for Young Magicians in Tel Aviv. The grant will allow me to train five young professional leaders in Tel Aviv in the art of magic, making them into magicians and, more importantly, magic teachers. We will then each teach magic to a class of children (from disadvantaged backgrounds) at different schools throughout the city.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Using any experience or skill I have to benefit society, and to do it in an innovative way. We all have things that we are good at and also passionate aboutit's up to us to combine those to move the world forward!

What is one change you want to see in the world?

That the role of money is brought back to its fundamental purpose: to be used as a means of creating social and economic development, rather than being an end in itself. Let people become as rich as they can be, as long as their wealth is in line with contributing to society.

What is the biggest risk you have taken and how did it pay off?

Leaving a very comfortable job as a mathematical analyst at a hedge fund and leaving London, my hometown. I packed my bags and moved to Israel without knowing what I wanted to do next. (Sometimes we don't know if we're on the right path, but we always know when we're on the wrong one). And, it paid off. I am now working in a field that I believe in and represents my core values. I love Israel, and feel connected to its culture, society, people, language and food. The transition wasn't easy, but I'd have it no other way.

Have you ever failed before and what lessons did you learn?

Many, many, many times! I am who I am today because of both many failures and a few successes. Bad stuff happensthat's just what life throws at you. What makes you successful is how you learn and improve from those things. "Failing" doesn't make you a failure.

"Failing" just gives you the opportunity to improve.

Who are your heroes?

Theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman.

Where do you find solitude?

Reading The New York Times on a Saturday morning at home after a good Israeli breakfast with fresh coffee.

Where do you find community?

I organize monthly talks for my friends at my house, where people can come to talk about subjects that they are passionate about. It has created a strong community of really interesting and passionate young professionals in Tel Aviv.

If you had to give up one modern convenience what would it be and why? T

ext messaging services (including SMS and Whatsapp). Why? Because it makes me sad that people don't speak to each other over the phone anymore. I suggest having one day a year when, if you want to communicate with someone, you call and speak rather than send a text message!

What is your favorite Jewish memory?

Lighting Chanukah candles as a child with my family in London.

To submit an idea to #MakeItHappen in your Jewish community, visit the #MakeItHappen site today! The Schusterman Philanthropic Network 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.