>>Thu Oct 11, 2012
We just concluded the amazing celebration of Simchat Torah – the holiday during which we finish the Torah and immediately start again from the beginning. Symbolizing the not only the Jewish People’s love for the Torah but also the cyclical nature of Torah study, Simchat Torah is a joyous and celebratory holiday during which we drink and sing and dance, parading our scrolls of parchment.
While I love the festivities of Simchat Torah, I recently became inspired by the recurring cycle of Torah study and the fact that as soon as we finish with Dvarim, we immediately commence with B’reishit.
The last chapter of the Torah is called V’zot Habracha or “This is the blessing.” It tells us about the blessing Moses bestowed on the Children of Israel before he dies, and concludes with the words “and for all the great might and awesome power that Moses displayed before all Israel.” And then we start with the words “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
How powerful is this transition? As soon as Moses dies and Joshua takes his place, we dive into the chain of events that enabled Moses to become the greatest prophet in the Torah (“Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses” Dvarim 34:10). We become witnesses not only to one of the greatest creation stories, but also to one of the greatest leaders in our collective history.
Through Moses we draw inspiration from his epic examples of leadership, and through God’s creation story we draw inspiration from the act of building something from “nothing.”
>>Mon May 6, 2013
Inc. magazine is a personal favorite. I like to pick up a copy at the airport so I can read on the plane when electronics are turned off. (I'm not trying to cause any Baldwin-esque scenes...) Inc. is a great way to stay updated with the latest tech companies and glean some pertinent business development insights and inspirations.
I just rediscovered the October edition of Inc., which focused on the presidential candidates' views on economic stimulation and support for startups and small businesses. As I re-read the articles, I started thinking about the parallels in the Jewish Community Entrepreneurial ecosystem. I am not going to delve into the differences of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama's opinions because that conversation is already dated, but rather focus on the issues of governance and systematic support for Jewish Communal Entrepreneurship. For the sake of this exploration, please assume that Jewish startups and entrepreneurs are important, and many are worthy of the Jewish community's resources. If you disagree, don't worry - stay tuned for another blog piece.
While imperfect, the United States has a robust infrastructure to support startups which not only encourages but also protects entrepreneurs and their emerging businesses. For example, university sponsored research is often translated and developed through tech transfer offices. There are a handful of incubators that provide intensive resources, funding and networks to a select few startup companies, whether aligned with university research or independent like YCombinator and TechStars.
>>Sun Mar 3, 2013
I just got back from an incredible trip to New Orleans, during which Sara Weinreb and I were exploring the possibility of starting a PresenTense Community Entrepreneur Partnership in NOLA. Coincidentally, Gili Finkelstein, PresenTense Israel Director of Branding Strategy and Marketing, was also in New Orleans on a State-Department sponsored trip for Israelis who are, or work with, Social Entrepreneurs.
While in New Orleans, all three of us had the opportunity to meet with incredible people who are shaping the landscape of New Orleans through social enterprise and innovation. We met with 4.0 Schools, Idea Village, Propeller, the Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (SISE) Department at Tulane University and heard from the founder of Revolution Foods at a SISE speaker series. We also sat down with the Jewish Federation, Avodah, Tulane Hillel and JNOLA to hear about the exciting new initiatives emerging in the Jewish Community, and hosted a happy hour to network with 30 Jewish young adults interested in communal innovation.
>>Thu Dec 6, 2012
People often ask, what is the PresenTense Impact? How can you quantify the community impact? What metrics do you evaluate? Why should someone support PresenTense compared with the hundreds of other worthy Jewish organizations?
PresenTense is committed to collecting data that showcases our work in the community (check out presentense.org/impact). But often these numbers are difficult to fully analyze. How do you capture connection and commitment to Jewish community? Growth in Jewish identity? Potential to be a Jewish leader? Or even, current proof of Jewish leadership? (As an aside: if you have good evaluation questions, we would love compare notes!)
Because of this I have always been a fan of anecdotes, and the JFNA's annual General Assembly highlighted a taste of what the PresenTense Network is positioned to do for the Jewish people.
>>Tue Nov 6, 2012
When I first joined PresenTense in the summer of 2010, I was excited to be a part of our annual strategic planning. It was empowering that a small, young organization took this process so seriously and deliberately, and that all staff played an integral part.
So here we are, two years later, bringing you our annual Year in Preview. And two years later, in 5773, I am a more enthusiastic advocate of this process. Not only does the Year in Preview give PresenTense staff an opportunity to dream big, but it also challenges us to put plans on paper and hold ourselves accountable.
The path from vision to action is often a difficult one, and many people define themselves as either a planner/executor or a thinker/dreamer.
Do you love checking off tasks on your to-do lists and preparing budgets? A planner.
Brainstorming and inspiring your team with big picture strategy? A dreamer.
But as past Fellows and PT School participants can tell you, PresenTense challenges individuals to dream big, articulate a vision for a better future, and then put that into action. It is important to “start with the end in mind” so we know what we are working towards. Action without vision can be fruitless, and vision without action is, well, simply a vision.
Like a business plan, the Year in Preview should give you an understanding of our organizational milestones and the communal impact we aspire for in 5773. And, also like a business plan, these documents are not codified! We welcome your comments, challenges, questions and suggestions to our staff.
Please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join the conversation for this upcoming year.
>>Tue Oct 16, 2012
Yesterday, I was called out on Facebook by Dave Gloss—good friend, PresenTense Fellow in the 2011 Global Institute, and founder of Here's My Chance. He posted a comment "Shelby Zitelman?" in response to the TechCrunch article "90% Of Incubators And Accelerators Will Fail And That’s Just Fine For America And The World" by Peter Relan. Initially Dave's comment prompted a "like". But after I read the article, I realized that Dave was looking for a response. So here we go...
The article's thesis: incubators are limited in their support and as a result 90% of ventures that participate in incubators fail (meaning the amount of money invested is more than the amount of money returned). But 90% is okay because—in short—these are creative individuals who are investing their skills and passions to advance America and taking risks to challenge the status quo.
Before I affirm the last part of this thesis, let's dissect the reasons why incubators produce the same success rate as the rest of the market (10%) and how PresenTense stacks up.*
Too many companies, too little mentorship.
Peter Relan summary: Providing access to capital is not enough, mentorship is everything for budding entrepreneurs, especially as those entrepreneurs are pursuing the same concepts (often without compelling problems).
>>Fri Apr 22, 2011
You can read more about the event, Bring It In Israel and Netanya Hoops for Kids in this article in the Baltimore Sun:
>>Thu Apr 21, 2011
By PresenTense NYC Fellow, Josh Nelson, Founder of The Warehouse
>>Tue Mar 22, 2011
By Miriam Bader, Director of Education at the Eldridge St. Museum
PresenTense NYC Fellow
(You can check out this post, and other NYC Fellows' perspectives at: http://www.nycfellowship.com/blog.html)
A central goal of the Jewish day school movement is to instill students with a strong Jewish identity. Students need to be able to answer the questions of “Who am I” and “Where do I come from.” The study of Jewish history helps students shape their understanding of the Jewish people and their role within it. Most Jewish history classes focus primarily on ancient Jewish history, the Holocaust and Israel. American Jewish history often does not make the cut even though the topic is most relevant to students’ lives.
At the Museum at Eldridge Street, I take thousands of students through the Landmark 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue, the first great house of worship built by Eastern European Jews in America. As they explore the magnificently restored sanctuary, they step into history and grapple with the challenges faced by what was once the largest Jewish community in the world.
Out of all the student groups that come from both public and private schools, only a small percentage visit from Jewish day schools. As the Director of Education, this continues to surprise me. As a PresenTense fellow, I have been working to solve this mystery.