Now that we are almost halfway through October, it's time to reflect on all the CYP happenings in September.  Our minyan on Sept. 3rd was held outside on a perfect evening in Cleveland Heights and hosted by Aaren, Cleveland's new Young Professional Coordinator at Federation.  Later that weekend, CYP cooked up 100 lbs of beef ribs on the charcoal grills at the Gross Schechter Totally Kosher Rib Burn Off Memorial Day event.  We didn't win, but we DID sell out and had a blast grilling.  We picked up some great tips and improvements to come back better and tastier for next year!  We met some great people and ate some great BBQ.  The holidays came and went, and we launched out Community Beit Midrash with an event over Sukkot hosted in the Gross Schechter sukkah (it rained, but we still had a great turn out indoors).  We had sushi made by Green Road Catering and met some new faces.  28 of us turned out to share a meal and participate in a thought provoking Chevruta learning session with Rabbi Eddie Sukol on food and our ethical responsibilities in the harvest and today, in producing Kosher food.  Last Sunday the minyan helped raise money for Magen David Adom and ran a 5k for the cause.  There were 6 of us, and 5 us placed for the fastest times in our age group.  October First Friday was also a success, this time taking the minyan to Tremont.  New faces, great food and friends helped make the event one of the most successful minyans we've had with 21 people!  If you haven't seen what we are up to, come check us out at our next event, November First Friday Minyan and Potluck on Nov. 5th.  See you soon!
School is starting, the days are getting cooler and it seems finally that fall is pushing through.  I went jogging yesterday and there were just a few crunchy leaves on the ground.  Fall is my favorite season, because it brings with it a boatload of Jewish holidays and better sleeping weather.  CYPminyan is not letting this go unnoticed.  We have a jam packed September full of events for you!

September 3rd will be our next First Friday Minyan and Potluck.  Come join us for a shabbat experience with friends.  Please bring a vegetarian dish to share.  You can get more info and RSVP here.

The Totally Kosher Rib Burn Off is a great event for Jewish Cleveland!  CYP will be grilling up some great, unique ribs, made from our own secret sauce.  If you want to help us cook, shop, etc., we will be cooking on the 2nd, at 7:30pm at Gross Schechter.   If you are more of a griller, volunteer for one of our time slots on Monday, Sept. 6 to help us serve up some CYP grub.  If you are more of an eater, just stop by and introduce yourself!  We'll be under the CYPminyan banner.  E-mail us if you want to help!  The event itself can be found here.

Next on the docket, CYPminyan is being hosted by Seigal College for Kol Nidre services on Friday night, Sept. 17th.  If you are looking for something a little different, or just want to sit in contemplation with friends, come join us.  We are also looking for people that want to get involved in adding input to make the service more meaningful.  If this sounds like you, get in touch!  If you need tickets for the rest of the High Holidays, let us know and we would be happy to connect you with special CYP discounted seats at many other local Synagogues.

In celebration of Sukkot, CYPminyan will be holding a Sushi in the Sukkah party on September 28th at 7:30pm.  $5 gets you in and lets you enjoy kosher sushi and the kick-off of our Community Beit Midrash program!  Topic to be announced shortly.  RSVP necessary so we can order enough sushi.

Finally, don't forget about our upcoming First Friday in October!

Exciting stuff.  Get involved, meet some new people, have some fun being Jewish.
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!
Week two has flown by, and, technically, today is already week three with PT.  Last week we were busy meeting lots of VIPs like Lynn Schusterman from the Schusterman Foundation and Alisa Kurshan, the head of the New York Federation.  It was great to have an opportunity to sit with them and bounce ideas around and hear their feedback on our projects. 

In our PT curriculum we were working on scanning our professional environments and learning whom else was out there doing complimentary things to what we are trying to create.  We each made our own comprehensive and detailed list, and then were able to better understand what was going on in our fields, what we could learn from others doing similar things and how we can best collaborate with other players in the community.  I enjoyed the in-depth look at everything that is going on in the Cleveland Jewish community and it gave me a new appreciation for all the wonderful things that we have in place for us at home.  It also got me excited to reach out to some very talented people in the community that I can't wait to get involved with CYPminyan.  If you are a community member that would like to get involved and lead a discussion with Jewish content for us, or if you are involved with the minyan and want to hear someone speak on something specific, please get in touch and let us know!

This week (week 3) we will be working on charting out what programs we plan on putting in place to help us accomplish our goals, and the problems, costs and outcomes we are expecting.  We also have a field trip to some very cool companies in Tel Aviv coming up on Wednesday.

Today was also the first day of classes for me at the Conservative Yeshiva.  The Conservative Yeshiva happened to have a summer session that fit in perfectly with my PresenTense schedule, and though I couldn't commit to being at the yeshiva full time, they were very accommodating to my schedule and prior commitments with PT.  For the next three weeks I will be taking two classes, one on Nusach and one on the tension between Torah and Philosophy that I hope will give me some interesting food for thought to bring back with me to the minyan.  The Nusach class seems to be very good.  Today we discussed what exactly is meant by the term "Nusach" and how it works as a defining tool to help people identify what day of the week it is, what service, holiday, etc.  We will be working a lot on learning new tunes (mostly for weekday Shacharit, Kabbalat Shabbat and (hopefully) Shabbat morning) and I am anticipating getting more MP3's of tunes and new songs for our resource page.  I am also trying to gain some tips on what works best to teach people how to lead services.  Three of the people in the class work in elementary Jewish education and are specifically concerned with how to educate day school students, so I'm hearing lots of helpful tricks.  I'm looking forward to the next time we meet.  Tomorrow is the first day for my other class, so I don't have anything to say about it yet.

Looking forward to another very exciting and busy week in Jerusalem! 

Shavua Tov!

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. 
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.

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.