Written by Fray Hochstein, on behalf of Team ROI
Diego believes, above all, in the Jewish people. A practicing organizational psychologist who is also active in the fields of education, human resources, and organizational development, Diego was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has been active in the Jewish community from a young age, and serves as a member of the Latin American Jewish Congress and Maccabi Buenos Aires.
His experiences instilled in him the conviction that the stratification and disconnect characteristic of Jewish society in Latin America poses a danger to the far-flung, and unfortunately dwindling, small communities, and he now seeks to build bridges between Jewish people and communities across the region. He further believes that for the young Jews growing up in the region to feel connected to Jewish life, it is imperative to build a society that welcomes diversity and prioritizes unity. To this end Diego established LAZOS, an Ibero-American Jewish network for young adults that aims to strengthen Jewish life in the region by serving as a platform for Jewish innovation and regional integration. LAZOS, active in 17 countries, has established teams of change makers throughout the region, charged with developing and implementing innovative programs in their communities and bringing about a shift from institution-centric communities to inclusive people-centric ones. It also identifies successful innovative programs from across the Jewish world, and implements them on a regional basis.
Photo credit: Jason Dixson Photography
LAZOS began as a Schusterman Connection Point gathering. In 2014 Diego was contacted by an ROIer, Ariela Lijavetzky, who suggested that he co-lead the conference that was to take place that year. As Diego recalls, this was only the beginning. “The year after (the first Connection Point) I was invited to go to the ROI Summit. It was an amazing experience, and most of all, it felt like I was coming home, that I was already part of the family.” ROI reinforced Diego’s sense of mission. “I found in ROI a confirmation of my way of thinking about Judaism and peoplehood. ROI inspired and empowered me to continue to follow my instinct and expand upon it, to think bigger. It has also enabled me to grow professionally. Through the Network Incubator program and other training opportunities, I have gained knowledge and ways of thinking I didn’t have before, which are now part of the tools I use on a daily basis.”
In keeping with LAZOS’s strategy, Diego has taken on a leadership role in the Zikaron BaSalon program in Latin America, in which people gather in living rooms on Holocaust Remembrance Day to hear the testimony of a Holocaust survivor, and spend time together. A total of 1,500 people in 16 cities throughout Latin America have participated in the program, which is now in its third year.
Diego adds: “You don’t come into this world just to make money. Everyone must take advantage of the time we are here to do something significant for others. The Jewish community, Jewish peoplehood – it is who I am, the center of my identity, the engine that drives me. Becoming part of ROI has given me the support, the empowerment, and the inspiration to do something that I could not have done otherwise.”