Jewish Journal

Campus Group Connects American, Israeli Business Interests

by Andrew Solomon

Posted on Jan. 6, 2010 at 12:29 am

If you peruse the organizational directory of any major university, chances are you will come across groups devoted to almost anything. Here at the University of Michigan we even have a group for squirrel enthusiasts. However, there is only one campus (thus far) where you can find an organization that is filling the gap between Israel’s economy and American business-minded students.

TAMID Israel Investment Group, which was started in 2006 by seniors Eitan Ingall and Sasha Gribov, is the answer to filling that void. By connecting students in myriad ways, TAMID has been able to successfully initiate the process of integrating American students with Israel in a new and exciting fashion. These two remarkable students, Ingall and Gribov, created something that will not only illustrate the vitality of Israel as a nation, but also show that Israel’s economy is a global hub of international business and entrepreneurship begging to be tapped.

In their new book, “Start-up Nation” (Hachette, 2009), Dan Senor and Saul Singer explain why Israel has such a successful economy. The authors demonstrate that the influence of the Israel Defense Forces as well as the culture of adversity in Israel create an innate and developed drive for success and hard work. Israel’s booming economy has more companies on the NASDAQ than those of Europe, Korea, Japan, Singapore, China and India combined, Senor says. Recognizing this potential, and the apparent disconnect between Israel and American business students, Ingall and Gribov were inspired to create the TAMID Israel Investment Group.

The ultimate goal of TAMID is to deeply connect students with Israel and its economy, thus preserving the state and her well-being for the future. Because of this, the first initiative is to educate TAMID’s members on the Israeli economy and illustrate to them the importance of Israel’s success as a nation. This is done in the first of three semesters of the formal program. The group meets twice a week: once for seminars given by prominent Jewish leaders, Israeli CEOs and university professors, and the other time for a “huddle session” in which the group is broken up into teams that work on specific projects, such as consulting for Israeli start-up companies. During the following semester, students choose between an investment track, which involves actively investing in Israeli stocks using capital from the self-started TAMID Fund, or a consulting track, which takes on larger projects for Israeli start-up companies.

TAMID is not just another investment group. It connects students on a much deeper level, allowing them to actively work toward something they are passionate about while ultimately affording them the opportunity to work on the ground in Israel, living and breathing its culture and economy. This is done through the third phase of the program, the TAMID Fellowship — a fully funded summer internship in Israel.

Sharing our passions with people is often very rewarding, especially if it is well received. Recently, we had a few members represent TAMID at the UJC General Assembly in Washington, D.C. The excitement and sentiment of Jewish philanthropists was phenomenal. At one point, Gribov told me, “We had to leave Netanyahu’s speech a bit early because someone called for a last-minute meeting.” It was great to see that the Jewish community respected and appreciated our committed efforts.

For me, TAMID is about being a part of something bigger than myself. In the mere four months I have been a member, I have given my own opinion to an Israeli CEO about his company’s product, stayed up until 1 a.m. on a couple of Tuesday nights to hear talks from Israeli venture capitalists and currency traders, and met a group of truly wonderful and committed people with whom I have worked hard to establish something profound and meaningful, both to us and Israel.

At this point we are running two successful classes of TAMID: the Aleph class, which is in the investment/consulting phase, and the Bet class, which is in the education phase. Additionally, because of our fundraising efforts this semester, our TAMID Fund will be up and running next semester, and we will hopefully be sending four students to Israel this summer for our inaugural fellowship program.

Overall, the purpose of TAMID is to share all of what we have built here at Michigan with universities around the country. By doing this, we will create a network of support and resources for Israeli companies and American students that will allow both parties to prosper in their lives and careers in the future.

In Hebrew, TAMID means “always.” We believe we must always invest in Israel’s future, both economically and emotionally, ensuring its success for our generation and for those who come after us; it is this prosperity that will live on.

Andrew Solomon is a first-year student at the University of Michigan and a member of TAMID’s Bet class. He can be reached at aessol@umich.edu. To donate to TAMID, visit tamidgroup.org.

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