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

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.


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