>>Wed Jul 14, 2010
Not your Grandmother’s Judaism
PresenTense Global Fellow Fashions Hip Jewish Identity
Jerusalem, Israel-July 7th, 2010— Hip, cool, edgy, and fresh … These are the words Yishai Mizrahi-Varon aims to communicate not only about fashion and music, but also about Judaism. As the Associate Marketing Director for Shemspeed, an independent recording label devoted to Jewish, World, and Alternative music, Mizrahi-Varon is launching the Shemspeed Keffiyeh Project at the PresenTense 2010 Global Institute. The goal of the Shemspeed Keffiyeh Project is to leverage popular trens – in this case, fashion and music – in order to engage young Jews in an interactive dialogue about Jewish identity, culture, and Israel.
Beginning in the fall, Mizrahi-Varon and Erez Safar, the Founder and Director of Shemspeed, will bring this innovative program to college campuses throughout the U.S. The project will feature an Israeli version of the keffiyeh (a Middle Eastern scarf that has emerged as the ultra hip fashion accessory especially among college students), informal workshops about Jewish identity, cutting edge and original Jewish music, and role models that personify creativity, passion, and Jewish commitment.
>>Mon Jul 12, 2010
The “It” Spot for Jewish Professionals: The Capital Jewish Forum
Australian Jewish Leader Develops Venture at PresenTense Jerusalem Institute
July 8, 2010, JERUSALEM—
While serving as the Executive Officer for the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission in Australia, Manny Waks observed that many of his young adult peers were disengaged from the organized Jewish community, which is centered around synagogues, day schools, and Israel advocacy.
Waks, now Vice President of the Jewish community in Canberra (Australia’s capital), decided to build a different Jewish communal model that would better appeal to young professionals like himself.
He founded the Capital Jewish Forum (CJF) in August 2009 to promote discussion and engagement with intellectuals, dignitaries and leaders on topics which are of relevance to Jewish academic, policy and business professionals. He is further developing his project this summer as a Summer Fellow at the PresenTense 2010 Global Institute in Jerusalem.
Launched by Mr. Mark Dreyfus MP at the Australian Parliament House, the CJF recently established its Board of Advisers, which is chaired by Assoc. Prof. Danny Ben-Moshe and includes among its members Mr. Dreyfus, Mr. Jeremy Jones AM, Mr. Bob Magid, Mr. Gad Ben-Ari, and Ambassador Martin Indyk.
The CJF, a non-partisan organization, provides a means of engagement through “a secure and inclusive environment for Jewish professionals whose personal perspectives are welcomed, indeed encouraged,” according to Waks.
>>Tue Jul 6, 2010
Londoner Develops Innovative Jewish Education Programme at PresenTense Institute
At Institute for Jewish social entrepreneurs Nic Abery connects Torah to museum art and artifacts.
Jerusalem, Israel - June 28th, 2010 — What do the British Museum and the Tanach have in common? A lot, according to Nic Abery.
As Creative Director of LooktoLearn, Nic is developing an innovative education programme for Jewish day schools and families that fuses the study of Torah with museum art and artefacts at the PresenTense 2010 Global Summer Institute.
While about seventy percent of British Jewish students attend Jewish primary schools, “most children tend to be taught Torah separately from secular studies but are expected to live a life which is completely intertwined,” she offered.
Nic will bridge this gap between Torah and secular studies through a three step programme of Torah text study, museum visits to art and artifact pieces related to the text, and reflective art making workshops.
“By nurturing a life long love of learning and discovery, these two areas can be fused. For example, students learn the story of Belshazzar's Feast from the Book of Daniel from a Rembrandt painting at the National Gallery,” she explained.
A primary school art teacher at Kerem School and freelance education writer for Tzedek, Nic also conducts family tours of the Natural History Museum for the London School of Jewish Studies.
>>Sun Jul 4, 2010
PresenTense Fellow to Match Skilled Baby Boomers with Israeli Organizations
Jerusalem, Israel-June 28th, 2010—Marla Gamoran is ready for her “encore career.” After a career in workforce development in Madison, she’s excited to launch Skilled Volunteers for Israel at the PresenTense 2010 Global Summer Institute. Her organization will design and coordinate customized volunteer opportunities in Israel that connect skilled Baby Boomers to the Israeli non-profit sector.
As a Summer Fellow of the prestigious six-week Institute, Gamoran will join fifteen other budding Jewish social entrepreneurs from Australia, Israel, and America to gain the skills and connections necessary to launch their ventures.
"The 2010 Fellows represent some of the most innovative Jewish minds today. They are embarking on projects that have the potential to transform Jewish life here in Jerusalem and around the world," commented Flo Low, Chair of the Institute Steering Committee.
The Institute culminates on July 22nd with Launch Night, when the Fellows gain the opportunity to pitch their project to community leaders. Gamoran looks to emerge from the Institute with a business plan “that will enable me to press the ‘go’ button from idea to implementation.”
A recently released NYU study reports that nearly one-half of active Jewish adults in the United States today are Baby Boomers. As this population retires, many are moving from their primary careers to an “encore career” that explores personal passions.
>>Tue Jun 29, 2010
"There's no such thing as a free lunch."
That may be true, but there are free 10 day trips to Israel on Birthright. It sometimes feels like Jewish organizations respond to lagging participation in Jewish activities by throwing money at the problem (e.g. me) and I'm not complaining. It's pretty easy to observe Shabbat meals when you receive an $18 reimbursement for each participant through Birthright Next.
Last week at PresenTense Global Institute we heard from some of the Jewish philanthropists and professionals invested in these programs: Alisa Kurshan, Senior Vice President at UJA-Federation of NYC, and Lynn Schusterman and Sandy Cardin of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. I was excited to meet the people that support Birthright and to hear their vision for a Jewish community.
That's why I was surprised when it seemed like everyone, speakers and audience, expressed concern about "entitled Judaism." Yes, Sandy Cardin emphasized that Birthright plants the seeds for future Jewish donors, and Kurshan enthusiastically observed the great demand for the Birthright brand. But questions were raised about the value of a free product. Moreover, Kurshan described how Birthright returnees called the UJA Israel hotline asking how to return to Israel, but were surprised to find they might actually have to pay the second time around. Do younger Jews consider the Jewish brand worth paying for?
There are signs that my generation does not feel the same sense of responsibility to invest in the Jewish community and its institutions, as demonstrated by less communal giving among the younger demographic. Hundreds of thousands of people gave their sweat and money to build the alphabet soup of an organized Jewish community we have today, from the AJC to the ZOA. Will these institutions survive? Should they?
>>Thu Jun 17, 2010
Mazel Tov to Eli Winkleman, founder of Challah for Hunger and '07 Summer Fellow; Charlie Schwartz, co-founder of Media Midrash and '09 Summer Fellow; and JT Waldman, founder of Tagged Tanach, acclaimed illustrator, and '08 Summer Fellow! Check out the full "36 Under 36" here.
>>Tue Jun 15, 2010
When I think of "grassroots organizers," I think of those who spark social change movements. While change can come from the top, the biggest stakeholders in changing society are those ‘on the ground” who organize their peers to take action. These grassroots activists often oppose “the man,” the established power structures that support the status quo.
In my few weeks at the Jerusalem Hub I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon at PresenTense. On the one hand the Institute harnesses the grassroots enthusiasm of budding social entrepreneurs who are creating an empowered minyan in Cleveland, Jewish sports programming, and networks of activists in Jerusalem. Each of the Summer Fellows is directly on the ground, in touch with people not necessarily engaged in the established Jewish community.
On the other hand, PresenTense connects Fellows to a network of philanthropists, mentors, and coaches that are deeply embedded in the established Jewish community. Reputable Jewish organizations like the American Zionist Movement, the Amitai Foundation, and the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland sponsor Fellows. Speakers this summer include Becky Caspi, Executive Director of the Israel Office for Jewish Federations of North America, and Professor Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College.
Unlike other grassroots movements, the entrepreneurs at PresenTense partner with and compliment the Establishment. How does this happen? First, forward thinking big Jewish organizations realize that new ways of thinking are required to engage the younger generation. At the same time, young entrepreneurs are choosing to work within rather than outside the sometimes frustratingly old-fashioned Jewish world, patiently teaching how Judaism can exist through Facebook, sustainability, and hip hop.