Welcome to Gidigrinstein.net, the website of Gidi (Gideon) Grinstein – my website. This website was designed with the goal of sharing the story of my professional journey and bringing together its fruits, which stretch over nearly thirty years since 1995. My work covers multiple organizations, efforts, and collaborations, in addition to two books: Flexibility: The Secret of Jewish Adaptability (2014) and (In)Sights: Peacemaking in the Oslo Process Thirty Years and Counting (2023).
Societal Entrepreneurship is the best way to describe what I do. I am Israeli and Jewish, living in the U.S. since 2015. My identity and journey combine and balance my Israelism, Judaism and humanism. Inspired by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l, I hold my particular identity to inspire and be essential for my universal work and vice versa.
My mission has been to lead on issues that are critically important for my society, and to make a significant and distinct contribution to humanity. Hence, my work has evolved in three concentric focus areas: my country, Israel; my people, the Jewish People; and the world. In this journey, I launched multiple innovative organizations and initiatives, as well as authored and co-authored books and hundreds of documents, articles, and policy papers.
I believe in building lasting institutions that offer a unique value proposition. In 2004, I founded the Reut Institute, (now the Reut Group) and Reut USA, as a platform for policy research, strategy, and leadership on the key challenges facing Israel and the Jewish People.
Out of Reut, in 2014, we launched TOM: Tikkun Olam Makers as a platform for making a significant and distinct contribution to our society and to humanity within the effort of 21st Century Tikkn Olam. In addition, I have been involved in multiple additional initiatives, such as Yesodot (foundations) for government reform and the Leapfrog Center to advance Israel’s social and economic development.
Reut is a ground-breaking organization, which has been a platform for game-changing efforts to serve Israel’s long-term prosperity and security. It stands out in its approach combining unique tools for diagnostics, knowledge-creation, strategy and vision based on the Praxis Package created by Dr. Zvi Lanir together with the leadership approach of Dr. Ron Heifetz of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Center for Adaptive Leadership.
Reut is also unique in its operations in both Israel and the U.S. through the Reut Institute (in Israel) and Reut USA. Some of its bold initiatives include The ISRAEL 15 Vision for Israel’s long-term social and economic development; various efforts to strengthen the international standing of Israel and Jewish communities, while combating antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel; and Civil Resilience Network to enhance resilience in times of national crisis.
TOM – Tikkun Olam Makers – is a venture of the Reut Group and its arm for bottom-up social impact, serving as a platform for large-scale humanitarian innovation. TOM has been inspired by the moonshot goal of helping 250 million people who are poor, elderly, wounded vets and living with disabilities. TOM’s research and development center is at TOM Innovation Center (TOMIC) in Tel-Aviv, which is associated with Impact Labs, one of Israel’s leading makerspaces, which Reut co-founded in 2017 with WeWork Israel. TOMIC – and before it XLN, C-IDEA and Impact Labs – were envisioned to become a national and global center for innovation in assistive technologies for those living at the bottom of the economic ladder.
In addition to Reut and TOM, I have had other professional passions and “extracurricular activities.” A highlight of my earlier professional life was my work on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process from 1995 to 2001, initially in a nongovernmental organization, the Economic Cooperation Foundation (95’-99’), and then in the Government of Israel at the Bureau of the Prime Minister Ehud Barak (99’-01’). As secretary of the Israeli Peace Delegation, I participated in the Camp David summit of July 2000, led by President Clinton. In the following years, I participated in countless backchannel and track-two initiatives to support the peace process.
In 2023, I co-authored with Prof. Ari Afilalo my second book (In)Sights: Peacemaking in the Oslo Process Thirty Years and Counting, which offers a unique overview of the outstanding issues between Israel and the PLO based on my experiences in the negotiations and since. I got many blurbs to support the book and am particularly proud that Amb. Dennis Ross wrote: “…the single best book on the topic…”
The Jewish People, and particularly Israel’s relations with world Jewry, have been a personal and professional passion for me, driving, shaping and informing the work of the Reut Institute and TOM on Israel-World Jewry relations.
In this context, I am very proud of two additional milestones: In 2014, I authored Flexigidity: The Secret of Jewish Adaptability and the Challenge and Opportunity Facing Israel. Flexigidity summarizes my personal and intellectual journey to make sense of the Jewish world by exploring its “secret sauce” of exceptional resilience, recurring prosperity, and leadership in humanity. I wanted to answer Marc Twain’s brilliant challenge: “All things are mortal but the Jew; all forces pass but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” Flexibility was uniquely envisioned to inspire and support a broad discussion about the condition and direction of the Jewish People through a “21st century exercise of talmud.”
Another major highlight of my earlier career – between 1995 and 1999 – was founding the team that turned Birthright Israel from a vision to a plan. We worked for four years, originating some of the formative ideas of the greatest running Jewish program of our time.
One of my goals in founding Reut and in TOM have been to inspire a cohort of leaders. Hence, I have strived to turn our team members into life-long Reutniks through a “Reut experience” which offers a formative personal and professional experience. I am extremely proud of their ongoing contributions to society. Nowaday, we are doing the same with the team of TOM and through the TOM Leadership
I am a proud veteran of the Israeli Navy and a graduate of Tel-Aviv University Schools of Law and Economics, as well as of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government as a Wexner Israel Fellow. While nothing of what I do was learned in school, my schooling has been essential for everything I do. I am grateful for the wonderful education that I got.
In case you were wondering, I happen to have a personal life as well. I am proudly married to my awesome wife, Betty, who is a bold entrepreneur in the area of water security, and we parent five children, who have begun to bless us with grandchildren. I deeply appreciate my community life and my circles of friends. I have a passion for history and for running, especially in the very early mornings. By 2023, I have run nine marathons and counting. When I can combine a run with a roving history lesson in a beautiful city, I am elated.