Goodbye LeBron, Hello JCLE

August 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Posted in Madeline Bleiweiss, PresenTense Fellowship 2010 | Leave a comment
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Madeline Bleiweiss, Founder of JCLEPresenTense Fellow Creates Cleveland’s New Hot Spot for Young Jews

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – July 15, 2010 – Lebron James may be leaving Cleveland, but Madeline Bleiweiss is confident the Cleveland Jewish community isn’t going anywhere. Full of villages, culture, and entertainment, yet lacking a Jewish framework to appeal to cultural Jews, Cleveland, Ohio is Bleiweiss’ diamond in the rough. Bleiweiss, a Cleveland Fellow participating in PresenTense as part of the PresenTense Jewish Federation of Cleveland Fellowship Program is determined to promote her hometown in a youthful, trendy light for graduate students and young professional through her new initiative, Jewish Cleveland (JCLE).

Where assimilation is rampant and Jewish continuity is in question, Bleiweiss aims to utilize her creative talents and communications skills to plan cultural events targeting the young Jews in the Cleveland area.

After a brief stint in Washington D.C, Bleiweiss, a self-described “former suit,” returned home to Cleveland to find an absence of the cultural Jewish life she encountered on her college campus.


PresenTense Cleveland Fellow Initiates Traditional-Egalitarian Minyan

August 5, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Posted in Jenny Kaufman, PresenTense Fellowship 2010 | Leave a comment
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Jenny Kaufman, Founder of Cleveland Young Professionals' MinyanJenny Kaufman brings the young zest for Judaism to Cleveland area

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – July 13, 2010 – The medieval Jewish sages strongly emphasized the relationship between community and meaningful religious experience. For Jenny Kaufman,  a Cleveland Fellow participating in PresenTense as part of the PresenTense Jewish Federation of Cleveland Fellowship Program, Cleveland’s young community lacks both. Kaufman is bridging the social-religious divide with the Cleveland Young Professionals’ Minyan (CYPminyan), an independent traditional-egalitarian minyan for 20- and 30-somethings in the Cleveland area. Spirit and passion imbue the volunteer-led minyan to bring the young zest for Judaism back into Cleveland.

After experiencing the vibrant Los Angeles Jewish community while pursuing a degree there, Kaufman returned to Cleveland unable to find a community that really spoke to her passions. Memories of home-cooked Shabbat dinners, passionate singing, and afternoon talks in the park seemed distant.

Far from alone in today’s modern Jewish world, Jenny says, “I like activities that connect me to Judaism, but it’s hard when people are apathetic or unsure of what’s going on.”

Part of what fuels the distance of young Jewish adults today, Kaufman believes, is the pervasive idea that Judaism must be “your parent’s Judaism” and “sitting through long, tedious services.” Au contraire, she says, “Judaism can be fun.”

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…

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

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

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…

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.

PresenTense: Exciting Brainstorming Meeting at David’s Citadel by Jenny Kaufman

June 15, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Posted in Jenny Kaufman, PresenTense Fellowship 2010 | Leave a comment

I just got back from a breakfast meeting with a few of the other Presentense fellows and Phil Cohen.  Phil is a well connected businessman in Cleveland who had some helpful advice about collaborating with local Synagogues in Cleveland to help the minyan get off the ground, presenting the case that the minyan is not in direct conflict with their pursuits but rather should be seen as another means to the same end, an engaged and excited religious community in Cleveland.  Truth be told, the minyan (because of its nature as a lay-lead congregation) is not attempting to usurp the place of the traditional religious establishments, but can be seen as a new model for engagement across denominational lines.  It will ultimately be a feeder for established congregations in the area.  As people age and have children, the minyan (as it is) is not able to provide key life-cycle services and educational infrastructure for families that the traditional synagogue already has in place.  The minyan, in its ideal function, will capture a younger demographic that isn’t necessarily being involved in the current infrastructure.  As an end product, it will turn out engaged, knowledgeable, and excited members into the larger Cleveland community, ready to step in and take on leadership roles in their congregation of choice.  This is a great thing for all Jews in Cleveland, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox.  All of our ultimate goals point towards Jewish engagement, and it will be much easier to accomplish this if we all work together.  I look forward to involving community leaders from all different backgrounds in the community Beit Midrash (more to come on that as it gets flushed out) and in the general dialogue of how the minyan project is taking shape.

PresenTense: Greeting From PresenTense in Jerusalem! by Jenny Kaufman

June 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Posted in Jenny Kaufman, PresenTense Fellowship 2010 | Leave a comment

Please visit the Cleveland Young Professionals’ Minyan website at All of Jenny’s posts are reproduced here with permission.

Hello!  For those of you who are new to CYPMinyan, welcome!  This site has been a labor of love that I’ve been working on with the help of Presentense staff and interns in Jerusalem for the past couple days.  For those of you that don’t know, CYPMinyan has been chosen by Presentense, an organization that enables young Jews to develop new business ventures, as a project worthy of investing in.  I am in Israel for the summer, studying at the Presentense Institute, and attempting to glean as much entrepreneurial knowledge as I can from my peers (there are 17 of us working on 17 very exciting new Jewish ventures around the world at the Institute) and from the staff.

So far, being in Jerusalem has been wonderful.  I had the opportunity to attend Friday night services at Shira Chadasha, one of the first independent Minyanim in Israel, located in the German Colony.  The service was very nice.  They have a mechitza (a separation of men and women), but there was a woman who led Kabbalat Shabbat on the women’s side of the mechitza, and a man who led Maariv from the men’s side.  It’s very interesting to me as I read and get the opportunity to attend more of these congregations, how each interprets Jewish Halacha differently.  I look forward to making contact with the founders of Shira Chadasha to pick their brains a little bit and to help gain an understanding of the different issues they had to confront to grow their congregation into what it is today (a very popular minyan for English speakers in Jerusalem).  It’s been a very exciting environment to be a part of so far.

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