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PresenTenseLA 2015 Fellows View Their Ventures Through a Jewish Lens: Part 1

This post is a part of a series highlighting the social entrepreneurial ventures that each of the 2015 PresenTenseLA Fellows will be unveiling at PresenTenseLA Launch Night on June 9th. The Fellows were given the prompt “What’s so Jewish about your project?” and over the course of the series we will be sharing their answers and exploring the nature of Jewish change-making.

Jake Weiner – ZOOZ Fitness

ZOOZ is a Hebrew word that means “move.” Movement is a vital aspect of one’s health and wellness. ZOOZ Fitness embodies this very idea found in the Hebrew language. Through movement and exercise, we are able to create a vessel that is healthy of mind and body. This concept is known in Judaism as shmirat haguf, which translates to “protect your body.” 

Adults with disabilities are 57% more likely to become obese than adults without disabilities due to lack of healthy food choices, medications that cause increased appetite, physical limitations, lack of accessible space to exercise, and a lack of resources within the community.

ZOOZ Fitness gives young adults of all abilities a chance to experience exercise and physical activity—many for the first time—through adaptive, inclusive, and active workout routines.  The virtue of shmirat haguf helps us all realize that our physical, mental, and emotional health is so important in order to maintain a well-balanced and Jewish life.   

Rebecca Platt – Zehut

Zehut creates a religious school experience that takes the best elements of Jewish camp—from S’mores to swimming to color wars to Israeli dance, and brings them to a synagogue school setting.  Zehut endeavors to provide the most inspirational Jewish education for the whole family. Through two intensive camp experiences in summer and winter, seven family programs throughout the year, and a family Shabbaton at Camp Alonim, Zehut will create the next generation of Jewish adults that are obsessed with Judaism.  

In Pirkei Avot, it says: “Upon three things the world stands: Upon the Torah, upon worship, and upon acts of kindness” (1:2).  At Zehut, we will work to help children hone the three pillars of their Jewish identity.  Through meaningful worship and spiritual connection, acts of service, and the creation of their own “Torah,” participating children will be the next generation of Jews that will be clamoring for more (and not less) Jewish. Through Zehut, our next generations will be passionate about who they are and what they can contribute to the world.

Justin Silverman – DiscutsTM

My venture itself isn’t Jewish per se, but the driving forces behind it are.  Growing up I was encouraged to be resourceful, ask questions and never accept “no” for an answer. This mentality and upbringing led me to not only find answers, but also find ways to improve processes. 

This is where Discuts comes in. With my unpredictable schedule and desire to “do it all”, I often put off getting a haircut until the last possible moment before a conference, a meeting or, if I’m lucky, a date.

This leaves me calling around to every salon on Yelp in a panic looking for availability that fits into my tight schedule, which often results in having to spend more money than usual.  Being Jewish, I have a thick head of hair (for now) that needs tending to fairly regularly, making this a common occurrence.  Discuts allows you to find a last-minute haircut at a discounted rate. This is the solution to a problem that I face every three weeks, as well as millions of others daily. The salons benefit by filling empty chairs. It’s a true win-win for hair growers and hair cutters.

Questioning everything isn’t exclusively a Jewish trait, but it’s an important one, and it fuels me every day to strive to better the world and myself.

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