PresenTense is finished, and I have returned to real life in Cleveland.  I have hit the ground running, with meetings lined up for the next couple weeks.  I'm trying to keep the buzz going thanks to the article in the Jewish News last week about the three fellows, and am organizing our first CYPminyan steering committee meeting (if you are interested in sitting in and participating, shoot us an e-mail to be kept in the loop!) .  Next week I have some brainstorming sessions with Siegal College and with the Cleveland JECC to discuss the practicality and logistics of the Community Beit Midrash, our next push for Cleveland!  Out next First Friday minyan and potluck dinner will be August 6 (next Friday).  We are always looking for people to host and for volunteers to lead Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv.  Come check us out on Facebook and RSVP.  Don't forget to join our group or put yourself on the mailing list to keep updated on events!  See you soon, Cleveland!
Tomorrow is launch night, the culmination of my summer with PresenTense.  I feel like I am well prepared to come back to the Cleveland community armed with a plan and inspiration that I will hopefully be able to impart onto you!  Launch night is an exhibition of sorts for the 16 of us fellows to present our work and ventures to the global community.  We will be delivering our "elevator pitch" in front of 200 guests on stage at the Hebrew University in Givat Ram.  We have each prepared materials and a table to then network and explain more of our venture in the schmoozing/tabling time afterward.

In the past week, we have been in "crunch time,"  PresenTense's bootcamp to get us prepared for our launch.  We have been refining our pitches for hours on end and working on our logos, branding and business plans.  The website has changed to match the new logo launch, and will be improving further in the coming weeks. 

Thank you all for all your attention and support, and if you want to get involved, here are some links for launch night so that you can be a part of the PresenTense network!

Here are 4 ways you can participate online:
Watch Launch Night live at 19:00 IST/12:00pm EST on Thursday July 22nd via Livestream.
Submit a Social Capital Note and help connect our fellows with new ideas, contacts, and investors.
See how our fellows are preparing for launch night (crunch time starts July 19!)
Watch videos from PT community members from around the world - and submit your own!
One more week of the program to go!  There is a lot of energy at the hub now as all the fellows begin to prepare for Launch Night, the culmination of PresenTense’s 6 week program. The summer has flown by, and I am left with lots more work to do.  I feel like everyone that I talk to, every connection I make, gives me invaluable feedback and endless inspiration for my project and my greater vision for Cleveland.

Yesterday I had a meeting with Eli Gur, a leading expert in building Jewish Renewal and alternative spiritual communities in Israel.  Just like the independent Minyan movement is giving North American Jews a new way to identify with their spirituality, so to in Israel, where a large portion of Jewish society is considered secular, is the idea of reconfiguring one's Jewish identity gaining ground.  Initiatives like Bina and Alma, secular yeshivot in Tel Aviv, are paving the way for secular Jews to reclaim their textual heritage in a new framework of social justice and universal Jewish values.  Secular kibbutzim are introducing programs that offer alternative Yom Kippur services.  Tel Aviv natives are gathering at the Namal, the new port, to hold Kabbalat Shabbat services at sunset in front of the Mediterranean sea.  Something is brewing in terms of Jewish identity and spirituality the world over that isn't being met by institutional Jewish infrastructure.  People are asking "Where do I fit in?  How does Judaism resonate with me?"

The CYPminyan initiative was my own answer to such a question, but for Cleveland, it doesn't have to be the ONLY answer.  Setting an example of community empowerment is a strong component of what we at the minyan are about.  Educating and training Cleveland's next generation of Jewish Leaders in Jewish tradition is an important goal, but what fulfills my need, my vesion of how Judaism resonates with me, is not meant to be all and end all of independent Jewish Cleveland.  The idea for an independent Community Beit Midrash will help empower Cleveland Jews to then go out and answer those fundamental Jewish identity questions for themselves.  In the future, I see a number of grassroots indy communities sprouting up in the landscape of Jewish Cleveland.  I see the CYPminyan as exciting and educating people about what they can do individually to make Judaism a meaningful part of their lives.  I am hoping that the CYPminyan will play a mentoring role in the development of other independent minyans in Cleveland, even helping to found an Independent Jewish Spirituality committee to help pool resources.  In the end, Young Cleveland Jews need to find their own ways to reconnect to their traditions if we are going to be serious about Jewish continuity and growing the Jewish community.  There is plenty of room in Cleveland for us all to make the community a more personal and vibrant place.

This last week at PresenTense was laid back and fun.  We are working on our business "logic models" and on prototyping our ventures.  To help us understand the inputs, outputs and outcomes of our projects, we took a field trip last week to Tel Aviv to meet with some of the big venture capital firms in Herzilia and ended the day with a trip to Project Better Place, Israel's totally electric, zero emission car company that is set to launch on the market in 2011.  It definitely was the highlight of our day, and especially neat to test drive the cars and hear about their philosophy and vision.

On Sunday, I went to Beit Shean, Cleveland's sister city with Partnership 2000 to spend July 4th with the Cleveland Birthright trip that is currently in Israel.  We hung out at a pub on one of the Kibbutzim in the Beit Shean area and met with the participants.  On Monday we all volunteered at the Beit Shean community center, helping them mulch and landscape their community garden.  In the afternoon we got to relax in Emek Hama'ayanot next to the river where Birthright participated in "mattress rafting" which is exactly what it sounds like- floating on foam mattresses.

Tonight the PresenTense community got a very cool opportunity to attend the ROI networking dinner.  ROI is another entrepreneurial program sponsored by the Schusterman Foundation that brings people together from all over the world for a very short period of time for intense networking opportunities.  The event was at the JVP Media Center in Jerusalem and I had the chance to meet with a couple people that I hope will be very helpful in guiding the Minyan and Beit Midrash to fruition.  The evening was capped off by a concert by Koby Oz, formerly of the band Tipex, but who is now involved in a project called Psalms for the Perplexed.  All in all, it was a great evening, and it's been busy everywhere!

Three weeks left, and things are starting to really come together!