PresenTense 2012 – Meet the Fellows!

May 30, 2012 at 9:56 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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5 Minutes with Ori Akrish
Venture:  Shabatana
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Who inspired you to launch this venture?

Growing up, my family used to have a “mandatory” Shabbat dinner every Friday night. While I hated it as a teenager, today I appreciate the effort my family made to spend quality family time together.

Where will your venture be in a year?

I’m hoping that the concept is embraced by the Cleveland Jewish community, and eventually it would be wonderful to send “Shabatana” packages across the country.

What is your vision for the fellowship program?

I’m hoping to learn from the experiences of other fellows. Being around other young and smart social entrepreneurs and seeing my idea through their eyes has already helped me shape and pivot my venture.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

It turns out that not just anyone can sell wine (even imported Israeli Shabbat wine!?) The concept looks a little less elegant with the grape juice, but the thought (and blessing) are still the same.

What change do you hope to make?

I feel that Shabbat is the true social network of all Jewish people. The idea that we all take one day a week to relax and appreciate our family, friends, and traditions really appeals to me.

What person do you relate to in Jewish History?

I’ve always admired the story of Israeli spy Eli Cohen. His bravery and intelligence are a remarkable testament to a man who put the future of his country ahead of even his own life.

What is the biggest question you’re grappling with now?

How to convey the “message” of Shabbat across all families. I don’t want people to think that it’s a “religious” or “Israeli” thing. There is a unique bond to be formed with your family and community.

What is the biggest challenge facing our community today?

Lack of Jewish Identity. Our grandparents were new to America, but natives to Judaism. Today we act like immigrants around Judaism: cautious, rejecting, self-conscious and feigning indifference. -Jonathan Safran Foer.

What is the most valuable thing learned from the program?

The business concepts and lessons were incredible. When people ask me about PresenTense, I tell them “I’m getting a Cliffs Notes MBA.” Also the wonderful connections and people I am meeting worldwide.

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