PresenTense Launch Night Rocks Jerusalem

They came from Buenos Aires and Budapest; St. Petersburg (Russia) and Montevideo; Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Kibbutz Yahel; Atlanta, DC, LA, New York and Philly. Six weeks ago, this geographically diverse group gathered in Jerusalem as participants in the fifth PresenTense Global Summer Institute, challenging the staff, coaches, skill-builders and mentors to help them launch their dream ventures. They were not daunted by the recession or a market in which many nonprofits have failed. For these sixteen social entrepreneurs were determined to sow their own seeds in making the world a better place.

This past Thursday night they came together – in front of several hundred friends and influencers – for a community celebration of innovation and creativity. To not only formally launch their endeavors, but to make us all think how we can contribute to a revitalized global Jewish community.

Here, in the first of several posts over the next few weeks, you can meet some of the members of this summer’s global fellowship, and learn about their projects:

from Budapest, Hungary, Laura Gaspar:

Laura, a computer science student, is creating Rafi – The Matzo Ball Revolution; a series of educational game applications for elementary school children. Rafi, the matzo ball, one night decides to run away from Grandma’s delicious soup to start his own life in the real world. Children can explore the basic moments, holidays, and symbols of Jewish life by helping Rafi in his adventures.

Laura’s biggest challenge: “to have one episode of the game ready.”

from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Evelyn Goldfinger:

Evelyn is a theater practitioner and an international award-winning researcher in theater for young audiences. She recently wrote “The Bubbe’s Trunk,” an educational play to teach children about Yiddish language and culture from a hip perspective. Evelyn is also the founder of El Toratron, a Jewish educational theater ensemble that presents interactive shows with Biblical and Jewish themes.

Evelyn on her inspiration to Innovate: “Someone explained to me once that omanut (art) has the same shoresh (root) as emunah (faith). I believe that by putting my Omanut at the service of my Emunah I can make a contribution to this world.”

from Kibbutz Yahel, Israel, Yair Tobias:

Yair grew up on a small kibbutz near Eilat, studied Judaism and economics in a pre-army academy and was a medic in the IDF. His love of Israeli-desert life has inspired him to teach these principles to other young adults through Beit Midrash BaDerech.

Yair on Beit Midrash BaDerech one year from now: “finishing a second successful year in which up to 40 participants will have taken part.”

and from Atlanta, Georgia, Ana Fuchs:

Ana is the founder of Jewish Kids Groups. Drawing on the ethos of Jewish summer camps, Jewish Kids Group is “a smart new model for supplemental Jewish education.”

Ana on her inspiration to Innovate: “Fostering innovation will lead to the design of more models, which will result in the engagement of more Jews. And, that’s good progress.”

We’ll have more on this summer’s global fellows over the next several weeks.

The writer was a mentor in the Global Summer Institute where he had the opportunity to meet, and work with, this summer’s fellows.