Tonight the inaugural class of JDC/PresenTense Kaet Fellows will pitch and present their new social entrepreneurship ventures to Moscow’s thriving Jewish community. After five months of intensive training and incubation, the ventures will be presented to a group of more than 100 local Jewish community leaders, philanthropists, and others at Moscow’s Strelka Institute. A first in Moscow, such launch nights have been hosted by PresenTense in New York, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and 7 other sites this season.
‘Thanks to the fellowship, I’ve learned valuable new tools for developing my project. More importantly, I’ve met interesting people, in a great atmosphere. My main wish for the future, is to see the results of my own efforts, and to see what future cycles of Kaet bring to the Jewish community,’ said Yochanan Kossenko, a Kaet Fellow, whose venture is an interactive database of Moscow‚s Jewish cemeteries.
The Moscow-based Kaet Fellowship — a collaboration between PresenTense and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) — brought a group of young Jewish entrepreneurs together five months ago to build on the fervent need for Jewish community social innovation in Russia. Especially poignant 20 years after the fall of communism and its attempts to eradicate Jewish culture, ventures range from those focusing on Jewish education, Jewish parenting, needs of Jewish seniors, Jewish art and culture, among other areas.
‘We’re incredibly proud to have played a role in the fostering the innovation and enthusiastic dedication of these, and other young Jews, in Moscow. As Russia’s Jewish community continues to develop its special brand of Jewish life, the work of the Kaet Fellows will lead the way and present an exciting new phase to the Jewish story here,’ said JDC CEO Steven Schwager.
The Kaet Fellows engaged in a holistic program made up of seven interconnected modules and a curriculum based in cutting-edge business and entrepreneurship theory, developed by PresenTense. Guiding the fellows through this process were local professional mentors, personal coaches, and a steering committee (three of whom served as personal coaches). Additionally, special case-study sessions were led by volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds, bringing business experience and know-how to the world of Jewish innovation.
‘I am delighted to be attending the launch of Kaet’s inaugural class of fellows,’ said Aharon Horwitz, co-founder of PresenTense. ‘These individuas are inspiring the Russian Jewish Community and world as part of Jewish innovation month, in which over 113 new ventures will launch in 9 communities in the U.S., Israel, and Russia.’
The fellows and ventures being pitched tonight include:
Arkady Baranovsky, a 34-year-old author, has created a theater group — Volniy Debyut (‘A premier of freedom’) — to help rehabilitate former Jewish prisoners through theater. The website is http://freedebut.weebly.com
Naomi Nalogina, a 21-year-old student, is developing a Jewish hostel — Jewstel — in Moscow where Jews can spend Shabbat and socialize. The website is www.Jewstel.com
Sergey Novikov, a 29-year-old high-tech expert, is creating a informal musical education center for adults, youngsters, and children, where a no-frills approach to musical education will stand against Russia’s traditional classical music education programs. the website is www.musicgiraffe.ru
Inessa Sinkevich, the 34-year-old head of a Jewish kindergarten, is opening a portal for Jewish moms with discussion forums, advice articles, and tutorials on ‘how to be a Jewish mom.’ The website, Jmoms, can be found at http://jmoms.ru
Olga Lovinskaya, a 33-year-old jewelry distributor, is developing an educational center for children and adults rooted in the Israeli approach to childcare and education. The website is http://detiuchat.ru
Yochanan Kossenko, a 27-year-old rabbi, is forming an online database of Jewish cemeteries in Moscow where relatives from anywhere around the world — using interactive maps — can post memories and details of loved ones who have died and order grave cleaning, repair services, and kaddish readings, among other opportunities. The website is www.pamiat.org
Evgeniy Kerbel, a 35-year-old headhunter, is building Koach Adam, a website dedicated to connecting Jews job hunters with Jewish business owners looking for Jewish employees. The website is http://koahadam.ru
Olga Dukor, a 29-year-old journalism professional, is working on a photography school/course, that teaches Jewish values through the photography of historical places in Moscow, or holiday-related themes. In the future, the course will develop into a photo exhibit on Jewish tradition. The website is www.jphotos.ru
Evgenia Mazurova and Kira Belelubskaya, 34 and 45-year-old local JDC welfare department employees, are working on Serbriniy Dom (‘Silver Home’), an initiative that will train families and businesses working with the elderly by educating them on aging issues and challenges, as well as the best practices for working with and caring for seniors. The website is www.serd.org.ru