Glen Schwaber ’83 is a founding partner of Israel Cleantech Ventures (ICV), the premier venture capital fund dedicated to investing in Israel’s emerging clean technology companies. Prior to joining ICV, Schwaber was a partner at Jerusalem Venture Partners, one of Israel’s largest and most successful VC funds. In recent years, he has co-founded and supported several non-profit initiatives including a summer business fellowship for Ethiopian Israeli university students, and an intensive two-year mentoring and training program that works with economically disadvantaged parents and children in Jerusalem to help break their cycle of poverty. Schwaber holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a B.A. from Harvard College. Glen lives in Jerusalem with his wife Heather and their five children, ages five to sixteen.
What led you to found ICV?
After spending nearly 10 years at JVP, one of Israel’s largest venture capital funds, I was ready for the challenge of starting my own firm in partnership with two close friends and colleagues. While there were several hundred early stage cleantech/sustainability startups in the country at the time, there was no dedicated source of capital for entrepreneurs in the energy, water and agricultural sectors. Population growth, urbanization, rapid industrialization and climate change place tremendous strain on energy, water and food resources across the globe. We founded ICV with the goal of bringing Israeli ingenuity and innovation to bear in building market leading companies that reduce waste and increase efficiencies in a variety of industries.
Which business sectors do you support currently as a partner at ICV?
My personal interests lie in traditional information technology areas in which Israel has demonstrated strengths, such as software, internet and semiconductors. Within these, I look to invest in businesses that if successful, will make their industries more environmentally sustainable.
When did you move to Israel?
I moved to Israel following graduate school in 1994, though I had spent considerable time in Israel prior to making aliyah. My parents first took my brothers and me on a trip to Israel when I was four years old and then again when I was seven. I then spent two summers in Israel on high school volunteer programs, a semester at Hebrew University during college and a year studying at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem.
Did Schechter help grow your love of Israel?
There’s no doubt that Schechter played a key role in growing my love of Israel, first and foremost by giving me the foundations of Hebrew language with which I could interact with Israelis and more easily feel at home in Israeli society. I remember maps of Israel on the walls of our Schechter classrooms, fun we had with our Israeli Hebrew teachers and receiving a solid initial grounding in Jewish history, texts and thought. I’ll also never forget learning the Egyptian National Anthem at Schechter in celebration of the signing of the Camp David Peace Accords in 1979. I still know the words by heart.
How does your time at Schechter continue to impact your life today?
Despite the 32+ years since graduation, I still remain in touch with several of my Schechter classmates, two of whom remain very close friends to this day. I think about my time at Schechter often, particularly as I reflect on my children’s elementary schools and how I wish they were more like Schechter — open, tolerant and intellectually rigorous.
Our Head of School, Rabbi Joshua Elkin, was hard-working and serious, but also really friendly to the students, bringing an incredible energy to the school when he arrived. I harken back to dissecting frogs with Mrs. Lang, debating Mishna with Lisa Isaacman (now Micley), and learning social studies with Mrs. Lanckton.
Our dining room bookshelf contains my Schechter-provided editions of One Day in the Lifeof Ivan Denisovich, Of Mice and Men, The Call of the Wild, The Merchant of Venice and All Quiet on the Western Front; these and others we studied in Mrs. Samuel’s English class. Our bookshelf also contains the light blue, hard cover Sepher Breishit I received in first grade, in which we tackled our first lines of Torah. And it holds the bar mitzvah gift I received from Schecher — a book of the Five Megillot and Jonah. The inscription inside reads from the book of Proverbs 22:6 – “Train a child according to his way and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Schechter helped me find my way. And as I navigate through life, the education I received from Schechter is the foundation stone to which I always return.
Any advice for today’s Schechter students?
Soak it in while you can. Try to appreciate everything Schechter has to offer — the teachers, the students, the community. If you allow it, Schechter can become much more than a school. It can provide you with lifelong friendships, ideas and ideals, and a sense of belonging and purpose within the long chain of Jewish history