‘Blossom’ to help budding Jewish entrepreneurs

‘Blossom’ to help budding Jewish entrepreneurs

Mayim Bialik signs on as co-chair of Core18, a new fellowship for young Jewish leaders

Debra writes for the JTA, and is a former features writer for The Times of Israel.

Mayim Bialik. (courtesy Core18)
Mayim Bialik. (courtesy Core18)

Her two most famous roles are as Blossom and Amy Farrah Fowler, but these days, actress Mayim Bialik has taken on a third part: co-chair of a fellowship to nurture the next generation of Jewish leaders.

Core18, which describes itself as an entrepreneurial boot camp for some of the best and brightest Jewish minds between the ages of 19 and 25, is a fully-funded fellowship meant to fuse Jewish values with the ideals of business and leadership.

Bialik, who has been a darling of American TV audiences since her breakthrough role in the 1990s sitcom “Blossom,” was raised a Reform Jew, and has spoken widely about her exploration of Orthodox Judaism and the commitment to Jewish traditions that she decided to make during her college years. After taking time off from acting to earn a PhD in neuroscience (to supplement her degrees in Hebrew and Jewish Studies), she recently returned to the small screen as a quirky, geek-smitten neuroscientist on “The Big Bang Theory.”

This program, she said in a conference call Thursday night, is just the ticket that young, budding Jewish minds need to really aspire to greatness. The fellowship will launch next year and applications are being accepted through October 15.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, one of Core18's three co-chairs. (Photo credit: courtesy Core18)
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, one of Core18’s three co-chairs. (Photo credit: courtesy Core18)

“Core18 Leaders Lab is a mad scientist’s dream,” Bialik says. “We bring in emerging Jewish leaders and give them the connections, training and funding they’ll need to experiment with cool new ideas that can change the Jewish landscape.”

Bialik’s co-chairs for Core18 are Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, a former Harvard lecturer known for his work in the field of positive psychology, and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, a former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom. The trio plans to recruit 36 lucky young people to participate in the fellowship, which will launch in January 2014.

In the first phase, the fellows will get to know each other and a wide network of mentors through weekly web seminars and meet-ups with philanthropists, Jewish thinkers and successful entrepreneurs. A handful of regional and national gatherings are also on the books. The first phase will culminate in a seven-week trip to Israel, where they will be required to intern at an Israeli business or non-profit and create a business plan while earning a certificate from the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.

The second phase of the fellowship will continue in September 2014 and include personal mentorship for the fellows, as well as an educational mission to Eastern Europe.

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, one of Core18's three co-chairs. (photo credit: courtesy Core18).
Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, one of Core18’s three co-chairs. (photo credit: courtesy Core18).

At the center of Core18, which is a project of the flashy online university Jerusalem U, is a desire to provide the fellows with all the tools required to make an impact in the Jewish world as they grow older. These include experience, professional networks, and the confidence to push their own mental boundaries and embrace creative ideas.

“There’s more to life and more to a person than what the world sees on the surface,” says Bialik. “To do great things in the world, we must first seek greatness within ourselves … CORE18 is about daring to be more, to do more and to achieve more than you ever thought possible.”

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