After Bernard Madoff and the economic recession, as the damage to the nonprofit world was revealed with cutbacks and the closure of social ventures and foundations across the spectrum, we were asked whether this was a good year to train and launch another class of PresenTense fellows. “Is it fair,” we were asked, “to get someone’s hopes up when even existing ventures can’t stay afloat?”
We recalled the story of Samson, and particularly his confrontation with a lion on his path. Rather than fleeing from the lion and near-certain death, our hero wrestled with him head-on, and he achieved the impossible. After this mad battle with the jaws of death, Samson was rewarded with the pinnacle of life: the sweetness of honey. Samson later describes this in a riddle as mi az yatza matok, literally, “from power out came sweetness,” or as we translated it in this summer’s motto, “from daring shall come the reward.”
In much the same way, our fellows past and present have been wrestling with the ravenous economy head-on, unwilling to relent as they fight near-certain death in order to bring new sweetness to our community. This year’s fellows have shown special bravery: as the lion pounced, they did not back down. Rather, they ran forward to devote six weeks of their lives to building their entrepreneurial skills, so as to take on the challenges with new strength.
These daring entrepreneurs are our inspiration at PresenTense—pioneers who break new ground in the face of great uncertainty, and who work tirelessly to improve the world and strengthen the Jewish People. From places as far as the West Coast of the United States and the east coast of China, and as near as across the street from the PresenTense Hub in Jerusalem, these pioneers have gone through a rigorous training and refinement process. They have clarified their vision and purpose, strengthened their business models to maximize earnings potential, and built connections with individuals and communities that can help transform their ideas into reality. They were aided by coaches, mentors, and skillbuilders, who gave of their time due to the belief that there is a difference to be made in the world, and that these fellows can make that difference. And they were supported by the global PresenTense community, which will continue to champion them and their ventures in the years to come.
In this publication you will catch a glimpse of their stories, values, and visions for the future. We hope you not only enjoy getting to know the fellows and the Institute that is driving them forward—but that you also will find a venture or idea that inspires you. If you are so moved, we hope you will join them as they wrestle their challenges to the ground and harvest the sweet success of a problem solved for our community and our world.