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A Spiritual Start-up Nation

A Spiritual Start-up Nation

Dan Senor and Saul Singer authored a popular book called Start-Up Nation, showing how Israel has become a mecca for entrepreneurship and business innovation. They show that:

  • In addition to boasting the highest density of start-ups in the world (a total of 3,850 start-ups, one for every 1,844 Israelis), more Israeli companies are listed on the NASDAQ exchange than all companies from the entire European continent” (p. 11).
  •  “In 2008, per capita venue capital investments in Israel were 2.5 times greater than in the United States, more than 30 times greater than in Europe, 80 times greater than in China, and 350 times greater than in India” (pp. 11-12).
  • “Comparing absolute numbers, Israel – a country of just 7.1 million people – attracted close to $2 billion in venture capital, as much as flowed to the United Kingdom’s 61 million citizens or to the 145 million people living in Germany and France combined” (pp. 12-13).
  •  “After the United States, Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than any other country in the world, including India, China, Korea, Singapore, and Ireland” (p. 13).

Senor and Singer attribute this success to “a story not just of talent but of tenacity, of insatiable questioning of authority, of determined informality, combined with a unique attitude toward failure, teamwork, mission, risk, and cross-disciplinary creativity” (p. 18).

This is really remarkable and something to be proud of. Can we replicate this on a spiritual front?

Can we get to a place where our nation is also furthering spiritual innovation around the world? Millions flock to India, Thailand, and other spiritual centers to find themselves and their place in the cosmos. What do Israel and diaspora Jewish communities have to offer? We have many historical sites to share – arguably the best in the world! – but when it comes to contemporary spiritual practice, our contributions are more parochial and not tremendously accessible or meaningful to billions of non-Jews around the world. Let’s change that. We can remain unique and be open and we can be particular and universal. We have much to learn from other communities and many of our own gifts to share.

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz is the Founder and President of Uri L’Tzedek, the Senior Rabbi at Kehilath Israel, the Founder and C.E.O. of The Shamayim V’Aretz Institute and is the author of “Jewish Ethics & Social Justice: A Guide for the 21st Century.” In 2012 and 2013, Newsweek named Rav Shmuly one of the top 50 rabbis in America.”


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