At a time when other students at the University of Michigan were advancing anti-Israel boycotts and disinvestment, Daniel Smith thought to help Israel by doing exactly the opposite: investing in the Jewish State and helping other students — Jewish and non-Jewish — do the same.
He joined Tamid, a group that aimed at developing the business sophistication of undergraduates through interaction with the Israeli economy and start-ups. Smith, who earned a degree from Michigan’s School of Business, became Tamid’s Michigan Chapter president, and then Tamid’s national chair. When Smith first got involved, Tamid (originally the Tamid Israel Investment Group) was on nine campuses, then 23 campuses, and now it is on 33. Tamid attracts many non-Jewish students, said Smith, and most often “their only connection to Israel was through Tamid.”
Smith, who grew up in Livingston, N.J., divides his time between his hometown and Tel Aviv, lured by his fascination with Israel’s economy, and possible aliyah. He is director of North American operations for the Homrun (pronounced as in baseball) Group, fostering connections between American business executives and Israeli entrepreneurs.
Smith was recently elected to the board of the World Union of Jewish Students, charged with strengthening WUJS’ American division, the American Union of Jewish Students, also known as Network.
Though WUJS has existed for decades, “it has had a very limited history in the United States,” said Smith. At a recent WUJS convention, “I was bugged that I was one of just three Americans there. There were around 25 Australians; 30 from the U.K.,” and plenty more from South Africa, Ukraine, Chile, Italy, “but hardly anyone from the U.S.” He intends to turn that around.
Network’s aim, said Smith, is “to be a voice for Jewish students, bringing Jewish student leaders into the global conversation with other Jewish students and Jewish organizations. Smith said he would also like to see Network be a “bridge builder” to other racial, social and ethnic groups on campus.
Pack your bags. Smith loves to travel. “I’m in Israel for much of the year,” he said. “I love speaking to people who are considering moving to Israel, and helping them out with jobs and an understanding of what it’s like to live there.”