Tomer Shemesh

Blog

Written by Fray Hochstein, on behalf of Team ROI

Tomer is a guy with boundless exuberance. After a childhood spent in Ra’anana, as part of his army service Tomer joined a group sent to rebuild Na’aran, a kibbutz near the shores of the Dead Sea. He took responsibility for the kibbutz’s failing date palm grove, turning it into a thriving and profitable business. 

After leaving Na’aran, Tomer, inspired by the social justice protests of 2011, shifted into politics, spending three years working for the Meretz party and organizing the biggest political and peace events in the country. He then sought to combine his love of working the land with social justice by working for Leket, Israel’s largest food-rescue operation. It was there that he met ROIer Neta Hanien, who encouraged him to apply to ROI. Tomer recalls: “Just applying and filling out all the forms was a transformative process,” and being accepted, he says, was incredible. “I felt that someone saw something worthy in me, and this alone was so impactful.” 


Photo credit: Netanel Tobias

Coming to the Summit wasn’t easy. “I pulled up to the hotel in my dirty, battered truck and thought, what am I doing here with all these cool, put-together people?” This feeling didn’t last long. “Within the first ten minutes I felt comfortable and among equals. In ROI everyone, from staff to participants, is accepting and encouraging, there is so little ego in the air.” He added: “The journey I went through during the Summit was profound, and made me realize that I can be a lot more than just a guy working for a big organization.” Tomer had come to the Summit at a time when he had begun to question the path he was on. He raised the question to the group: “I asked them, what should I do? Should I continue where I am now or take a chance and make a change? Their responses were not always easy to hear but were always honest, encouraging, and without any vested interest. I realized that I was not alone; that there was this whole community behind me.” 

Tomer decided to pursue his dreams, and quit his job at Leket a week after the Summit. He now has his own initiative, Social Delivery, which he runs out of an enormous logistics warehouse in Beit Shemesh. Social Delivery collects unwanted surplus from companies as well as items from offices or hotels that are redoing their spaces. The items are then donated to schools and other organizations. 

ROI Community continues to play a big role. “I am running the organization with a fellow ROIer, Shani Austreicher; ROI helps me network and connect to organizations who need these items, and has also provided me with mentors and guidance, all pro bono.” Tomer concludes: “Last year I bought a jacket and tie and went to my first GA (JFNA General Assembly). It was overwhelming. But the moment I got there No’a and Elissa (ROI staff members) took me by the hand and introduced me to everyone they could. They really had my back – it’s like a big family!” he says, with a huge smile. 

Photo credit of hero image: Noa Magger Photography