For those worried about where the future leaders of the of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora and Israel will come from, the story of 29 year old David Goodman should put their minds at ease.
After becoming inspired on a trip to Israel sponsored by Taglit (Birthright Israel), David gave up an aspiring career in social media and advertising on behalf of beer, cars, and cellphones – and took on the career of promoting Israel, using the skills he picked up in his marketing career.
Since his first Birthright trip in 2007, Goodman has led six groups, and has raised an amazing $700,000 for Israeli causes. Working out of an office in UJA-Federation headquarters in his native Toronto, Goodman is now Manager of Social innovation for UJA's Community Connect - a new division that was granted by the Federation to better involve young Jewish adults in the community through volunteerism and social events.
“I went from working in experiential and social marketing on behalf of ad agencies in Toronto to doing something similar – using the skills I got at marketing school and in business – on behalf of Israel,” says Goodman. “I'm glad to have been able to bring a fresh perspective to promoting Israeli causes.”
And Goodman has proven that those skills are just as valuable when promoting Israel as they are when promoting beer. During 2006/2007, he spearheaded a basketball related initiative culminating in a basketball tournament called Hoops 4 Israel. With participant fundraising efforts and his own sponsorship-based fundraising effort, the project - to raise awareness and funding to support the community of Kiryat Moshe, which has a large Ethiopian Oleh population - raised over $100,000 in one day.
From there, Goodman went on to direct other major events, like Bac2Fashion, a fashion-based initiative to bring awareness to vulnerable Jewish seniors and Holocaust survivors (begun in 2008, the effort has raised over $100,000), a hockey tournament in 2010 (which raised over $100,000 as well), and an after-party for Hoops 4 Israel, called Jam for Israel (which raised $80,000). Meanwhile, Hoops 4 Israel, his initial project, is still going strong, and has to date raised over $400,000 for at risk Israeli youth and victims of terror.
Goodman hasn't lost touch with his business roots, though. “I am working on a new initiative to help bring Israeli green technology to the attention of the community, and investors, in Toronto,” he told Arutz Sheva.
Called “Green Juice,” Goodman says that “there is a great opportunity for partnerships in green technology. Both Israel and Canada are innovators in this area, and this initiative will help showcase what Israel is doing,” he says. Meanwhile, Goodman says he wants to help other Federations in the U.S. and Canada build a marketing, activism, and fundraising model similar to the one he has dedicated his life to.
“It just goes to show what communities can accomplish when young people get involved,” he says, adding that he did not go to day school, and was not from what you would call an activist family. Currently in Israel for a whistle-stop visit that coincides with Birthright's next Mega Event on July 14 that will take place at the Wohl Amphitheater at Bar-Ilan University.
The theme of the event is “the future is in your hands,” a title, it appears, that is a very appropriate to Goodman's efforts on behalf of Israel and the Jewish community.