By David Glazer, Shira l'Tefillah
Ever since I was a kid, I was indoctrinated into praying three times every day. I never challenged or asked questions about what I was saying, nor did I understand it either. I did not particularly enjoy prayer or find meaning in it. I found it monotonous, uninspiring, and boring. It wasn't until I was in Israel for my gap year that I went to my first Carlebach minyan on a Friday night. According to Wikipedia, a Carlebach Minyan is a Jewish prayer service that follows the style of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and uses the melodies he composed for many prayers. These minyanim are distinctive for their emphasis on singing the liturgy, often using Carlebach's original nigunim. According to Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, Carlebach "changed the expectations of the prayer experience from decorous and somber to uplifting and ecstatic as he captivated generations with elemental melodies and stories of miraculous human saintliness, modesty and unselfishness. "
This experience opened my eyes to the idea that music and melodies can be used to not only enhance one's involvement in their tefillah but to give people a new understating as to the reason we pray. Music stirs the soul and helps individuals reach places within themselves that they never thought possible. That evening, I found myself being enveloped by the music and the words naturally flowing from my lips; similar to hearing a favorite song of mine to which I begin to automatically sing to.
By Dalia Davis, The Akara Project
This year the world lost an icon in the Israeli music world, Arik Einstein (z”l). With his passion for social change and idealistic spirit he composed the well-known song Ani V’ata Neshaneh et Ha’olam (You and I will change the world). As my fellow PresenTense fellows and I looked to this song for inspiration in a seminar on Visioning, one line in particular jumped out at me. “Ani v’ata ne’naseh mehatchalah” (you and I will start at the beginning). As we progressed through the seminar and attempted dreaming, designing, and articulating our visions, it became very clear to me that my visions for The Akara Project are long range and riveting. With my suitcase full of plans for my venture, I am very much at the beginning of a journey. According to Einstein, a very appropriate place to start.
However, the beginning is not always the most comfortable and pleasant place. In this seminar, we characterized beginnings as Egypt—the place that one must leave in order to travel through the wilderness and arrive in the Promised Land. I see and hear this Egypt often. The other day I stood next to a woman struggling with infertility while another woman asked her advice about what to name the child she was carrying in her womb. Shortly thereafter, I was with another woman who has been trying to conceive for years and witnessed another woman ask her how long she’s been married, express surprise when hearing the high number, and go on to share with great pride that she bore three children in three years. These women are in Egypt. As long as we remain a community in which we cease to educate ourselves and our members towards a greater level of sensitivity, we are all in Egypt together. It is time to get out and begin our journey.
By Alyssa Berkowitz, L'gasher Et Ha'paar (Bridge the Gap)
Every runner knows that training for a race is a process of elaborate planning and goal setting. We start by training our bodies: logging miles and building strength. Next we train our minds: we become familiar with the intensity that comes along with rigorous, habitual training and learn what to do when we “hit a wall.” We blister, know down to the minute when we will need to eat, and know what activities we enjoy after a training run. I have been a runner for close to five years, but never once have I trained for setbacks. That is, until now.
What do I mean by "training for a setback?" This weekend, I ran my third half marathon ever, the Fred Lebow Manhattan Half, which is the first of three I plan to run in the next four months. At mile 9, which is usually where I hit that lovely sweet spot where tenacity and focus push me to the finish line, I felt a sharp pain course up my ankle. I winced (trying to ignore my pain), and finished, only to end up in the doctor’s office later that day with a torn ligament. As the doctor taught me to walk with crutches, I watched the dream of breaking personal records and trying new courses vanish before my eyes. A setback in every sense of the definition.
Engagement, a term that for many young adults means a promise to marry, has turned into one of the largest stumbling blocks I have encountered in the development of my PresenTense project.
No, I’m not struggling with commitment or marriage – instead I am challenged by how to get Jewish young adults excited about participating in Open דור Door. For me, engagement brings to mind how to get young people involved in the Jewish community through participation in social programming and volunteering.
In these first stages of my training as a social entrepreneur, I have been reminded many times that I need to come up with a “hook” in order to cultivate interest for my idea. What I am concerned with moving forward is the need for regular participation and commitment to Open דור Door.
By Elke Sudin, Jewish Art Now
This piece was originally written regarding the CAJM conference, reporting for Jewish Art Now. Find the original piece here.
As more and more Jewish institutions are looking to innovate the way they engage, many are opening up to collaborations they would not have pursued before.
Although far-reaching partnerships and crowdsourcing are integral parts of the way an audience is cultivated in the 21st century, the resistance to collaboration by established institutions can often come from territorialism based on geographical distinctions. The mentality can sometimes be that if you are physically standing in one institution, you are therefore not standing in another. However, developments in cultural engagement have changed and more and more institutions are feeling less competitive as they design their programming to be one of many options to get an audience’s attention.
The Council of American Jewish Museums conference session “Thinking Outside the Box: Non-Traditional Collaborations, Programs, and Audiences” and the responsive discussion circles that followed led to many examples of collaborations that worked, and collaborations that despite many efforts, just did not.
We gleaned an understanding of the issues with collaboration and how to help institutions, artists, and curators, overcome these issues and work together more effectively.
By Matt Ronen, Impact Year
Larry's a poet, but works for an advertising agency.
Sally's an actress, but works for a photographer.
Pat's a novelist, but works for an insurance company.
How come all your friends are on their way to being somebody else?
—NYPD Officer Frank Serpico as played by Al Pacino in Serpico (1973)
Sound familiar? Do you spend your days working for someone else, but your nights and weekends working on your venture? If so, you’re not alone. America has always been a nation of free-thinkers, but today’s innovation and entrepreneurship revival, both in the shadow of Steve Jobs and before, is unprecedented. From ABC’s Shark Tank, the hit TV show where entrepreneurs pitch investors such as Mark Cuban, to the newly launched Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute at Cornell (Johnson) and almost every top business school, entrepreneurship is reaching bubble-like proportions.
Despite all the hype surrounding entrepreneurship, the harsh reality is that Instagrams (remember that?) are few and far between and 3 out of 4 VC backed start-ups fail to return investors’ capital. So what about the rest of us who don’t yet have backers and aren’t working on their venture full time? I’m talking about the Hobbyist Entrepreneur. How can these determined individuals and small teams “pull it off” and transform side projects into the main event? Here are eight tips for turning your passion into your profession:
1. Hold your horses. If you already have a paycheck and owe a landlord 40% of your pre-tax income (I’m talking to you New York City), you’re going to need to harness your inner Zen master to practice the art of patience. Remember, while we often hear of the get-rich-quick entrepreneur, most were honing their craft for years before they hit it big.
We'll be discussing a variety of topics from innovative Jewish restaurants (chefs from Rio, Berlin and Johannesburg would be joining) to radical new Jewish museums (did you know that the largest Jewish museum in the world recently opened in Moscow?) and volunteering (with Israeli activists reporting live from Ethiopia and Mexico).
By David Blake, PT NYC Coach
We all start our business with an idealized concept. It's that perfect vision we offer to the world as a reflection of our core values and ideas. Then it all goes downhill. To be viable it needs a tweak here, a tuck there and suddenly we realize we are looking at a different vision and business than when we started. Often, we now find ourselves with a business which may not fully fit who we are and our core values and passions.
So what to do? It's a tough emotional choice; and yes, I think this is a emotional choice rather than a analytical choice. There's a relevant question surprisingly few think to answer: Is the viable business the business for me? Is my current lifestyle, interests, relationship status, job and financial status compatible with the business - and if not am I willing to change my priorities to fit the needs of the business?
By Sarah Jacobs, Girls Are People Too
Two months ago, I walked into a room of people buzzing with chatter and exploding with ideas. I was nervous, excited, and mostly intimidated. I didn’t know how to answer the questions that I was being asked. I didn’t know who was there to interview me and who else was being interviewed or if the person sitting next to me had a ‘better’ idea than I had.
I felt completely out of my league- Why was I sitting in this room with established entrepreneurs and future success stories when all I had was an idea?
I’d like to say I realized it then and there, but it’s a taken a few weeks to realize that I am a PresenTense fellow because I believe in creating social change. Each seminar, meeting, and milestone so far has taught me that it’s my passion, my idea, and my venture that will create a difference in society. Each passing week has also revealed that each fellow is at a different point in pursuing social change- some are able to talk about their ventures flawlessly, and some are still working their venture out.
I want to do what Kid President urges us to do: I want to create something that will make the world awesome—with an emphasis on create. Thankfully I always have plenty of ideas, but I don’t yet know how to move an idea into implementation; over the next few months, this fellowship will be giving each cohort the tools to take those steps. And that will (hopefully!) make the world awesome.
PresenTense NYC Fellowship
Igniting social change in the NYC Jewish community.