PresenTense: “Intense” – Scan of Competitive Environment; Project Description by Noah Sudow

June 29, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Noah Sudow, PresenTense Fellowship 2010 | Leave a comment
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Wow, what a second week.   If the week could be summed up into one word it would be “intense.”  PresenTense has a tremendous network of high profile individuals in both Jewish/ Israel organizations and venture capital investors.  That was made clear this week through the visits of several prominent leaders in each field, including representatives of the Jewish Federations of Cleveland, New York, and St. Louis, Jewish Agency, the founder of Table to Table, and leaders in the Israeli and international venture capital communities.

In between those visits, regularly scheduled PresenTense skill building and case studies, and keeping up with work back in Ohio, it’s hard to believe that there was actually time to work on my project. Continue Reading PresenTense: “Intense” – Scan of Competitive Environment; Project Description by Noah Sudow…

First Step Towards Change

June 25, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Posted in Adam Baratz, Voices from Israel | Leave a comment
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For my summer project I am partnering up with an older man. To maintain anonymity, let’s call him David. David is a volunteer who organizes one of Beit She’an’s neighborhood councils. A neighborhood council is a body composed of local people who handle neighborhood problems, thereby empowering residents.

For obvious reasons, when starting a community garden, it is important for the “community” to be involved. The neighborhood council therefore serves as a central component in both the planning and execution of the garden. Since David is the coordinator of the Neighborhood Council, he is a key contact person. Continue Reading First Step Towards Change…

PresenTense: Highlights from Week 1 by Noah Sudow

June 22, 2010 at 11:36 am | Posted in Noah Sudow, PresenTense Fellowship 2010 | Leave a comment
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Shalom, my name is Noah Sudow and I am going to be blogging this summer from the PresenTense Institute in Jerusalem. My project is to create an online tool to connect research faculty in Northeast Ohio and Israel to help them partner on innovation projects. These discoveries, utilizing the expertise from both regions, can then lead to new products and jobs.

Now that you have the basics, here is what has been happening:

What an incredible first week in Israel! However, it didn’t start off as planned, as weather in Newark delayed my departure by a day (don’t even get me started), but once I got here it was off to the races. Continue Reading PresenTense: Highlights from Week 1 by Noah Sudow…

PresenTense: Week One of PresenTense by Madeline Bleiweiss

June 22, 2010 at 11:28 am | Posted in Madeline Bleiweiss, PresenTense Fellowship 2010 | Leave a comment
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I haven’t been to Israel since 2006 when I came on Birthright Mayanot for 10 days. This experience is much different, much deeper, more involved, adventurous, exciting, and challenging in ways that I never expected. The PresenTense Institute has taught me great skills, even in the past week. Upon coming here, I assumed PresenTense would teach me ways of building a business strategy in a more logical, text book sense. Instead, the institute has allowed me to curve my attention with analogies, intense evaluation, and research. It has also given us the opportunity to meet with talented, knowledgeable people from around the US and Israel.

My project has been tweaked a bit since I applied for this opportunity. There will no longer be a convention and my focus will no longer be to get Cleveland’s adult population enthusiastic. I believe this will come with time, and it’s necessary that I concentrate on my main idea’s target audience. Continue Reading PresenTense: Week One of PresenTense by Madeline Bleiweiss…

Voices from Israel: A Different Culture by Adam Baratz

June 22, 2010 at 10:48 am | Posted in Adam Baratz, Voices from Israel | Leave a comment
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Israeli’s have a unique culture.

In the States, I frequently hear criticisms of Israeli culture. Often times, visitors will balk at the aggressive nature of the Israeli people. This aggressiveness materializes in a variety of ways. Israelis are pushy. The very idea of a well ordered line is a distant dream in Israel. When I first returned to the country, I was patiently waiting in line to get through passport control. I had been waiting for 15 minutes, when all of the sudden, out of nowhere, an obnoxious women with 4 children scooted past me. After confronting her, it became clear that she was not in a rush. The action was therefore entirely superfluous. This woman explained that I should have been more aware. In her mind, I was in the wrong for being passive. Her twisted reality evoked a combination of extreme anger and frustration.

Israelis do not sugar-coat their thoughts. If they disagree with you, they will tell you. If they don’t like you, they will probably tell you. For example, my grandfather, Gideon Baratz, was very politically driven. Visitors who referenced “controversial” politics were immediately booted out of his home. However, as the saying goes, there are two sides to the same coin. While I do be live that Israelis are uncouth, I also believe that Israelis are also very honest, a trait that I highly value. Knowing what people actually think makes life much simpler. Instead of having to decipher a complex arrangement of references, hints, and body language, in Israel, one can find things out by simply asking.

What is more, Israelis are wonderfully approachable. Last week I was building a pool for a botanical garden in a high school. All of the sudden, a young chap who attended the high school approached me and asked me what I was doing. I started a conversation with the fellow student. In short time, 4 other high school seniors had joined in on the discussion. Five minutes later, all of the 5 students were helping in the construction of the pond: 3 were preparing cement, the other two were slapping the cement on the floor of the pool. I had not even asked them to help out. They approached me and volunteered on their own initiative. This interaction is very revealing. In the States, I know that I would never approach a construction site and volunteer to help out. There is an openness and a kindness in Israel.

The point is this: while there are many elements to Israeli culture which might be somewhat distasteful, there are other wonderful parts of the culture that are unique to Israel. As a person  who grew  up in Israel, I accept the good and the bad. These quirks are what make Israel home.

PresenTense: Recap of week 1 at Presentense by Jenny Kaufman

June 19, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Posted in Jenny Kaufman, PresenTense Fellowship 2010 | Leave a comment
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Shavua tov!  I survived week 1.  This past week was very intense, but I feel like I accomplished so much, with the website and meetings and really working to hammer out my overall vision of the minyan.  The Presentense curriculum focuses a lot on our individual “stories”, laid out in a very Jewish metaphor:  Yetziat Mizraim, the exodus from Egypt.  This week we all focused on identifying our Egypt (i.e. what is the problem that we are trying to solve by creating our venture?), who we are going to get to march (who is our target audience?) and what is our promised land (what does our end result ideally look like?).  I struggled with how best to articulate my Egypt and finally narrowed it down to a problem with recruiting and engaging my age demographic in the existing synagogue infrastructure.  My target audience, people in their 20’s and 30’s are still a transitory population.  Many of us are not yet married and do not have children and so, synagogue membership and the services it provides (Sunday school, a rabbi for life-cycle events, etc.) isn’t the a top priority.  Many of us also are not very established financially, and the idea of paying synagogue membership isn’t a worthwhile expense.  Even though this age demographic does not seem to want to seek out the traditional synagogue, it has proven in other cities its desire and passion to get involved in a slightly less traditional model, the independent minyan.

If we can harness and involve them through the creation of CYPminyan, which is in its philosophy a nondenominational, volunteer led organization, we will create a much stronger incoming generation that will be poised to take on the necessary leadership roles in the community.

My hope is that the CYPminyan will serve as a stepping-stone for engaging this population and turning them into a dedicated group that understands Jewish tradition and the importance of investing in one’s community.  They will go on to become capable leaders in existing synagogues and Jewish organizations as adults, connected to one another cross-denominationally through their history at the Minyan.  These young Jews will be empowered through involvement in the Minyan to, in turn, create even more Jewish infrastructure for the Cleveland community.

I will be working to revise this general concept throughout the remaining 5 weeks, and will keep you all updated on the progress.

Voices from Israel: A New Perspective by Adam Baratz

June 18, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Posted in Adam Baratz, Voices from Israel | 1 Comment
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Today I am going to discuss a sensitive subject. Two weeks ago, on May 30th, a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid was raided by Israel. Ultimately, 9 people who were onboard the ship were killed by the raid. This event has elicited angry responses of world leaders. Unfortunately, differing accounts of this event have made it difficult for people to know what to really believe. For example, Israel explains that the soldiers use live ammunition in an act of self-defense. The activists on board the Mavi paint a picture in which Israeli soldiers massacre innocent victims.

What is more confusing, news outlets throughout the world choose which account to legitimize. I for one am generally skeptical of the media when it comes to reporting big tragic stories such as this one. Unfortunately, the information provided by news sources is often politically charged, attempting to use the news to convince the public to have opinions, not knowledge. Some news outlets support the Israeli story. Others support the activists’ stories. What you end up with is a lot of emotionally charged imagery. There is little understanding with regards to why or how the tragedy took place.

To be honest, I have accepted Israeli narrative. However, my goal here is not to support an account whose legitimacy cannot be verified, that will be the job of an investigative panel. Instead, I hope to show how this tragedy can be reframed to promote dialogue instead of divisiveness.

To better understand the events of last week, it is important to put oneself in Israel’s shoes. When thinking about the flotilla raid and the vehement international response that it has elicited, it becomes clear that this attack was not good for Israel. Although it may seem obvious, Israel had a great deal to lose when it used ammunition in the flotilla.

What happened on May 30th was the last thing that Israel wanted. Clearly, Israel knows that shooting “peace activists” has terrible repercussions. It would be foolish to think that the Israeli military would carelessly massacre activists. Consider the many diplomatic troubles that have followed this event. Consider the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic rhetoric that has developed in the past week. Israel knows that it is unacceptable to attack innocent civilians, if only because of the international controversy such an act elicits. Additionally, why would Israel shoot innocent activists? Such an act of violence brings only trouble. One can therefore conclude that going in, Israel was not planning on using live weapons. The weapons that were employed were used in response to an attack, not as an instigator of violence. Even without knowing the whole story, one could easily infer that Israel would not randomly attack a bunch of civilian boats.

This new perspective is very important. This is because people who disagree with Israel’s policies have used this flotilla raid as a way to vilify the nation. Such a manipulation is unfair. The fact that people died on the Mavi Marmara is tragic. However, extrapolating this event as a metaphor for the entire Israeli-Palestinian is disingenuous. Common sense has shown that, Israel used live weapons in the Mavi Marmara in response to violence.


Three Jews to Change Cleveland

June 18, 2010 at 11:14 am | Posted in PresenTense Fellowship 2010 | Leave a comment
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PresenTenseIn a cutting edge venture, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland is partnering with PresenTense, an Israel-based program to encourage young Jewish social entrepreneurs, to help develop three individuals’ innovative ideas:

  • Madeline Bleiweiss is energizing Cleveland’s community by building social networks to foster young Jewish life.
  • Jenny Kaufman is building a foundation for Jewish engagement by creating a local independent minyan in Cleveland for young adults. See the link to her blog in the right column – Cleveland Young Professionals’ Minyan.
  • Noah Sudow is fostering academic, intellectual and economic cooperation between Israeli and Northeast Ohio-based researchers.

The three fellows are attending The PresenTense Summer Institute, a six-week training program in Jerusalem, where they will connect with innovators from around the world and develop the resources to bring their ideas to fruition. All the fellows will be blogging in this space soon – stay tuned!

Michael Siegal Elected New Chair of Jewish Federation of Cleveland; Additional Officers Elected

June 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Posted in Press Releases | Leave a comment
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Michael Siegal, a devoted Cleveland corporate and civic leader, was elected board chair of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland at its May 26, 2010, meeting of the Board of Trustees.  He is the 27th board chair of the 107-year-old organization.  Also named as officers were Vice Chairs Reneé Chelm, Jeffrey M. Kahn, Keith Libman, Betty Rosskamm and Judy Klein Willensky; Treasurer J. David Heller and Associate Treasurer Randall J. Korach. Continue Reading Michael Siegal Elected New Chair of Jewish Federation of Cleveland; Additional Officers Elected…

Success Doubles for Cleveland Metropolitan School Students in Jewish Federation Tutoring Program

June 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Posted in Press Releases | Leave a comment
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During the 2009-2010 school year, sixty percent of Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) students participating in the Jewish Federation’s Public Education Initiative (PEI) improved their reading levels by one grade level or more – doubling last year’s percentage of improvement.  “PEI is an example of both the tutors and students participating in a mutually enriching experience,” says Nancy Glick, chair of the program. Continue Reading Success Doubles for Cleveland Metropolitan School Students in Jewish Federation Tutoring Program…

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