The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and PresenTense have announced 13 young Jewish entrepreneurs as its first group of Moscow-based Kaet Fellows. From a high tech expert to a small town rabbi, these Russian social innovators will enter a 5-month incubator where they will transform their ideas for addressing community challenges into sustainable local ventures. Such ventures will include those focusing on Jewish education, emergency medical training, the needs of Jewish seniors, volunteerism, Jewish art and culture, among other topic areas.
“One of the cornerstones of our work in the former Soviet Union over the last 20 years has been to build the next generation of Jewish leadership and we’re very proud that together with PresenTense our first class of fellows will bring a new level of innovation and creativity to a Jewish community yearning for new ways to connect and grow,” said JDC CEO Steven Schwager.
The Kaet Fellowship is made up of seven interconnected modules. Fellows participate in a holistic program including professional mentors, personal coaches, and a curriculum based in cutting-edge business and entrepreneurship theory. At the end of the program Fellows participate in launch night, the culmination of the Fellows’ hard work—a final celebration of innovation when the entrepreneurs pitch and present their ventures to their local community.
“PresenTense is incredibly excited, and honored, to work with the JDC and join in its historic effort to renew and empower the Jewish community in the former Soviet Union. The energy and excitement we’ve seen on the ground in Moscow has convinced us that the former Soviet Union is emerging as a major power center for the renewal of the Jewish People worldwide, and we are especially excited to connect Russian Jewish social entrepreneurs and volunteers to our community around the world,” said Ariel Beery, co-founder of PresenTense. “We’re especially excited to walk in the footsteps of our hero, Ralph Goldman, in developing a deep partnership with the Moscovite Jewish community for mutual growth and benefit.”
The first class of JDC/PresenTense fellows include:
Yohanan Kosenko—27, a rabbi, will create a database of a Jewish cemetery in Moscow as a way of telling the story of the community by involving the younger generation in telling the story of their grandparents.
Kira Belelyubskaya and Evgenia Mazurova—45 and 34, both local Hesed employees, will develop a program that educates families with elderly relatives on the challenges facing aging people and create new intergenerational connections.
Ekaterina Moreyno and Olga Belozerskaya—41 and 43, a professional athlete and a museum professional respectively, will build a program to provide robust first aid training, a field severely lacking in Russia, at a local Jewish organization. Will utilize Israeli medical technology and ensure the Jews of Russia can help in emergency situations.
Olga Dukor —29, a journalism professional, will create and utilize photo exhibits as a way of helping people explore Judaism and Jewish life in Moscow.
Olga Fomenko—52, a Hebrew teacher with a long career in the music industry, will develop an initiative that links Jewish people seeking volunteer opportunities with Moscow Jewish organizations seeking such help.
Arkady Baranovsky—34, and author, will develop a theater group for released Jewish inmates. Currently has a project running in a first stage but is looking for expansion
Ksenia Nalogina—21, a student, will build a religious Shabbat living space close to synagogues for young visitors to Moscow (possibly a hostel).
Evgeny Kerbel—35, founder of a headhunting firm, will create a recruitment agency for Israelis in Moscow.
Inessa Sinkevich—34, head of a Jewish kindergarten, will develop an internet portal organizing activities for Jewish moms.
Sergey Novikov—29, a high tech expert, will establish a school of Jewish art and music, conducting educational activities for children.
Olga Lovinsky—33, owner of a jewelry distribution business, will organize large-scale book and toy exchange and garage sales for Jewish families with children.