Posted by PresenTenseLA
Eight months ago, the Neshama Center and Mikvah was little more than a dream, a ten year old dream, in fact. I was a rabbi who had far more passion than business acumen, and although I had been working to actualize the Neshama Center vision for more than a year, I was mired in Los Angeles politics and complacency about the status quo. The Jewish Federation’s PresenTenseLA Fellowship changed all of that.
From refining my vision to drafting our Phase I budget, PresenTenseLA guided us from inspiration to implementation. They matched me with world-class mentors and challenged me to complete milestones essential to our success. PresenTenseLA coordinator Julia Moss became my greatest cheerleader and the other fellows my sounding-board. When PresenTenseLA encouraged me to reach out to the community at large to gain input for our vision, our survey received more than 400 responses. We now understand that our greatest challenge will be to create the market for the Neshama Center's unique approach to Judaism - one that we know will be deeply resonant with LA Jewry, once they understand what who we are.
The Neshama Center and Mikvah offers the body as a point-of-entry into Judaism. In a few weeks, the majority of LA Jews will enter our synagogues and encounter a Judaism that is rich, substantial, and also highly intellectual. You have to know a great deal about Jewish history and theology before the Judaism of our synagogues can begin to come to life for you.
At the Neshama Center, mikvah immersion is the touchstone Jewish experience. It is visceral, and it is immediately, deeply impactful. It is something you do, and doing it feels great. What is more, mikvah is a vehicle for personal transformation, and at the Neshama Center, we offer this ancient Jewish ritual as a tool for creating space in our lives for those things we care about most. One can use the mikvah to celebrate their completion of a course of chemo or to mourn a miscarriage. In moments of great joy and great sadness, the mikvah's waters can lift you or they can absorb your tears.
Applications for the next cohort of PresenTenseLA are open now.
8.16.13 at 12:16 pm | Eight months ago, the Neshama Center and Mikvah. . .
2.28.13 at 2:53 am | On Sunday, January 6th, nearly 40 Jewish. . .
2.13.13 at 1:50 am | We live in a world facing remarkable challenges
February 28, 2013 | 2:53 am
Posted by PresenTenseLA
This post originally appeared on the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles' blog on January 14, 2013.
On Sunday, January 6th, nearly 40 Jewish community members joined together to be part of the kick-off of PresenTenseLA, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ social entrepreneur fellowship. Our twelve outstanding fellows were joined by the incredibly dedicated PresenTenseLA Steering Committee, as well as the coaches and mentors who over the next five months will be graciously volunteering their time to helping these young innovators pursue ventures that will revitalize our Jewish community through spirituality, ritual, personal growth, inclusion, education, philanthropy and so much more.
The Jewish Federation’s PresenTenseLA gives social entrepreneurs the leadership skills, business tools and connections – through a Jewish lens – that turns ideas into ventures which will engage, inspire, and transform the Los Angeles Jewish community.
Below are reflections from Johannah Sohn, one of our PresenTenseLA Fellows:
During our first PresenTenseLA meeting, we were asked to share one adjective that best described how we were feeling. I said, “Excited.” I am very excited to be a part of the first cohort of PresenTense fellows in Los Angeles, but as I reflect upon our first day together, I need to add several adjectives to that list.
Inspired; I feel truly inspired by both the creative and bright group of fellows, as well as the PresenTenseLA program itself. On Sunday, we were presented with an overview of the program curriculum and I can't wait for the next seminars, there is so much to think about and to learn!
Honored; during lunch we all had the opportunity to meet our coaches and mentors. I was fortunate enough to have my entire team present: my coach and two mentors. Though our meeting was brief, it was clear to me that I had been speaking to incredibly knowledgeable, kind, and skilled guides who would play significant roles in shaping my venture – and me. I felt so honored, and so lucky, that they all took time from their busy lives to be there on Sunday.
Grateful; I am very grateful to have been selected to participate in this program. I am really looking forward to the next five months and learning all that I can from the incredible fellows, mentors, coaches and facilitators.
Johannah Sohn is the Director of the Jewish Learning Community of Adat Ari El, as well as a wife and mother to two girls. Her venture, Virtual Israel, is a multi-user, virtual environment where students can connect to their peers, the “environment” and Judaic content. This virtual environment is a 3-D environment that a student explores using a personal avatar to learn about the history of the State of Israel by going on scavenger hunts with classmates, engaging simulations and role playing activities, clicking on objects in the environment and, essentially, being immersed in a game-like setting that connects them to Israel.