Want to be a part of something big, bold, and beautiful? On March 15 (or March 24 if you live in Israel), join together with people all over the world for the annual celebration of good deeds.
Founded in 2007 by Israeli philanthropist and entrepreneur, Shari Arison, Good Deeds Day has morphed into a real life viral hit, with hundreds of thousands of participants of all ages making a difference (2 million collective volunteer hours-worth!) in their communities in ways large and small. Projects range from painting homes of senior citizens, to cleaning up beaches and parks, to making sandwiches for a local shelter.
To get involved, simply make a pledge to start or join a good deed initiative, and get to it! The Good Deeds Day folks put together a treasure trove of resources and toolkits to help get things rolling.
Check out this awesome gallery of photos from past Good Deeds Days, and watch the video below. Then join in the fun and do some good!
Every year Jews for Racial and Economic Justice co-sponsors a collaboratively-created, radical Purimshpil (party and performance). Focused on the most compelling issues facing our society today and featuring puppets, raucous music, live theater, dancing, and many (many) homemade hamantaschen, it might just be New York City’s most exciting, educational, and invigorating Purim party. Co-creator Jenny Romaine took some time to share more about this amazing spectacle – happening this year on March 5th and 7th at the East Midwood Jewish Center. (There is also an all-ages carnival on Sunday, March 8 at Union Temple).
What was the inspiration behind the Purimshpil, and when did it first start?
Purim is a favorite Jewish holiday for feminists, young people, queers, and party animals of all stripes. The holiday calls for noisemaking, rule breaking, binary blurring and an end to business as usual. All of those elements come together in a traditional folk play called a Purimshpil.
Since 2002, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice has sponsored a radical Purimshpil project founded by Adrienne Cooper and myself in partnership with the Workmen’s Circle
and the Great Small Works theater collective. For the past few years, the Aftselokhis Spectacle Committee has worked with JFREJ and a long list of artists and social justice organizations to produce Purim spectacles that bring together hundreds of revelers for a wild time. The Purimshpil offers a powerful example of what can happen when we use our cultural abundance in our political organizing. The shows have enlivened, enlightened, confused, and inspired JFREJ members, comrades, and friends from 2002’s Giant Puppet Purim Ball Against the Death Penalty to 2013’s I See What You’re Doing: Purim, Puppets, Politsey.
What is is like to create the Purimshpil?
The Shpil is collectively devised through a rigorous but open four month process. It includes multi-generational singing and music sessions, political education, dance, puppetry, and art builds. What is created is a massive work of art performed by 70 people. Working together to create these wild performances, singing together, rehearsing and building sets together, and then dancing and laughing together – it’s the kind of relationship-building you just can’t get in a meeting, or even at a demonstration. So many people keep coming back to participate in Purim because it’s a rare time when we get to see our political partners as multi-dimensional people, coming from cultural strength and resourcefulness. It builds our power, to see ourselves and each other in that light.
We believe that accessing and participating in that community is a necessity, not a luxury. For all of our meetings, builds, rehearsals, and performances, we provide food, childcare, wheelchair access, and Metrocards to those who are part of the events’ creation. This year we have created additional paid work specifically for artists of color, as well as engaging more youth in the project. We have set these priorities because it is vital to growing and reflecting our community, to our political development and to our cultural work.
What is on tap for this year’s Purimshpil?
This year’s show is called Your Roots are Showing: An Underground Purim Botanical! It will focus on the stress reactions we and our neighbors in New York City are experiencing due to the loss of all or some of the emotional and material ecosystems that make our survival possible. This process has been identified as “Root Shock” by public health researcher Dr. Mindy Fullilove. Fullilove learned about root shock from people who had been displaced by urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s. She adapted the concept from a gardening term describing what happens to plants when they are moved, to reflect on what occurs in neighborhoods after development-driven displacement.
We see Root Shock in our own communities today, in gentrification and militarized policing. Also, a shortage of care for our elders, people in wheelchairs who can’t get into buildings, undocumented workers subject to exploitation by employers, and the institutional and familial hostility that drives trans and queer folk to homelessness. Our endeavors are based on the assumption that deep culture shifts are necessary to change power relations. To create new dynamics, we have to know ourselves and each other, to let go of old ideas to find new ones. Our partners in this work are organizers, artists, and scholars in our community who have devoted close attention to aspects of Root Shock including: Dr. Mindy Fullilove, Michael Manswell from something positive dance and mask company, Imani Henry from Equality in Flatbush, JFREJ, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, the hip hop artist Danny Sanchez, and many more.
Join the party! Find all the details about attending this year’s Purimshpil on the Facebook event page.
So, why central Brooklyn you ask? To make sure we would be situated productively and compassionately in NYC, we started our site development adventures with some serious research. We focused on building two maps: one that showed us where millennial Jews were moving and the other that illustrated where there was great need for volunteer work. This is important because Repair the World tackles pressing local needs by mobilizing Jewish millennials to volunteer. We enable people to transform their neighborhoods, cities, and lives through meaningful service experiences. To do this properly, we have to understand the needs of the community as well as the demographics of the neighborhood. While there is clear need across many areas of NYC, we’ve found these two maps to intersect directly over Crown Heights and Bed Stuy.
According to UJA Federation of NY’s 2011 Jewish Community Study, 25% of single non-Orthodox young Jews already live in Brooklyn by 2011. As young Jews are getting priced out of places like Prospect Heights and Park Slope, many are moving east towards Crown Heights and Bed Stuy where neighborhoods are rapidly gentrifying and places are still relatively affordable. Yet, very little Jewish infrastructure exists to engage them on a regular basis. I know, because I live here. Creating some form of infrastructure in this area could establish a sense of community to serve as a catalyst for social change work in Crown Heights. It could also become an avenue for community members to explore other ways to be involved that resonate with them outside of volunteer work. We’re here to support their needs and inspire folks to get involved.
Not only can our volunteers make a huge impact here, it’s also really freakin’ cool. With tons of great community institutions like Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum nearby, the strong accessibility to public transportation, bars and restaurants galore, and a diversely rich community of both new and veteran existing residents, the ground is ripe for an organization like Repair the World to offer a real way for people folks to build community around meaningful and necessary volunteer work that can bridge the gap between new and long-time residents right in their own backyard.
Since beginning our work this year, we’ve engaged over 400 individuals in meaningful service projects like working at local soup kitchens and beautifying community spaces. We’ve also hosted a few social events like a bagel brunch before the People’s Climate March and an MLK Shabbat Supper in Crown Heights. As Fellows arrive in August, we expect our programming will grow immensely to offer even more opportunities for Jewish millennials to find community through social change work that will increase social capital needed to support community needs in central Brooklyn.
You might be asking yourself what kinds of community needs I’m talking about. To provide some perspective, the NYC 2006 Community Health Profile illustrates that central Brooklyn’s average poverty level (31%) is overall higher than in Brooklyn (25%) and all of NYC (21%). Many city-wide service organizations have designated central Brooklyn as an area of focus. New York Cares, one of our community partners, explains that, “While rich in history and culture, Central Brooklyn struggles with poverty, low educational achievement, and high crime rates. These issues are exacerbated by rapid gentrification as the city grows and evolves.” As neighborhood demographics rapidly shift, long-time residents are becoming displaced as rent prices begin to rise and commercial properties enter without regard for what may have already existed.
Just a few weeks ago, I had an incredible conversation with a delightful older woman at my local laundromat who chatted me up as we waited for our spinning cycles to finish twirling. She expressed her worry about leaving the neighborhood she’s called home for more than thirty years as her landlord was planning to significantly raise her rent without discussion. At the same time, she was thrilled to see the neighborhood becoming safer and more inviting as just ten years before many New Yorkers would have never stepped foot in the area. The mixture of high poverty rates and rapidly changing demographics brings a lot of complications to the area and is very much affecting the needs of its residents.
We’ve had so many interesting conversations about neighborhood change like the one above and now want to open it up to a wider audience. To get a taste of what we do, join us this Thursday, February 26 at 7:30pm at Berg’n (899 Bergen Street in Crown Heights) for Cocktails with a Conscience: What’s Your Brooklyn? to explore what community means as demographics in the area rapidly change. Hear from local community leaders and meet other like-minded New Yorkers who are passionate about social justice and ready to do something about it!
This post first appeared on the Repair the World NYC Tumblr. Sign up to follow the RTW NYC Tumblr here so you never miss a post!
Purim is almost here, which means it’s time to figure out where to party! And where to tap into some of the year’s most exciting Jewish social change events of the year. In addition to celebrating Queen Esther and Mordechai’s triumph over Haman’s plot to dispel of the Jews of Persia, Purim contains some deep social change themes.
So raise a toast, get to know your neighbors, and get yourself into the Purim spirit at one of these great events around the country:
New York City. On March 5-8, join Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, the Aftselokhes Spectacle Committee, and The Workmen’s Circle for their annual purimshpil – a raucous night devoted to great music, great fun, justice, and amazing homemade hamantaschen. Then, bring the kids to JFREJ’s social change-themed carnival with music in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Ladino, and hand-built carnival games.
Los Angeles. Join IKAR on March 4 for their Purim justice carnival. There will be megillah readings, carnivals, and parties for adults and kids alike. Bring a box of mac-and-cheese to use as a grogger, and IKAR will donate them to a local food pantry after the holiday.
Berkeley Join Nehirim on March 5 for their Jewish Mardi Gras Purim festival. In addition to a great party with cocktails and a comedy performance, choose from 1 of 4 exciting conversations about identity, tzedakah, and more.
Berkeley Join Urban Adamah on March 4 for a megillah reading and Purim party on their farm!
Boston Join The Boston Workmen’s Circle Center on March 21 for a reeeeallly late, and reeeealllllly fun radical Purim party featuring political theater, great snacks, and a performance by hip hop artist, Y-Love.
Do you know of another service or social change-themed Purim event? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting @repairtheworld.
In addition to our monthly Newsletter, we are also bringing you a monthly round-up of our favorite programs from our partners and from across the web. The opportunities below are separated by long term (6+ months), short term (6 months or less) and ongoing service, social good, and travel opportunities.
Be sure to check back monthly for updates and new finds!
Commit…To Service! (Long-Term Programs)
You Want To Go To There. (Short-Term and Travel Opportunities)
Be Social. Do Good. (Social Good Jobs, Events and Campaigns)
All February long during Black History Month, Repair the World is checking in with people, organizations, and projects working on the forefront of Black issues and celebrating the Black community in America. Today we’ve got our spotlight on: Living Like Kings – a powerful exhibit about the intersection of chess and hip hop, on view through April 26 at the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis.
Created and curated by St. Louis-based artist, Ben Kaplan, the exhibit is inspired by the work of Adisa Banjoko, an artist and activist who founded the peace and knowledge-building organization, Hip Hop Chess Federation, which teaches chess to youth. As Banjoko has written, “Street chess grew in popularity across America in the 1970s as hip hop emerged from its embryonic stage. On the corners where street chess thrived, rap, DJ, and dance battles also took place. The same strategies and insight required to win on the chessboard assisted those clashing on the mic, the turntable, and the dance floor. Like the game of chess, each of the elements of hip hop became defined by the beautiful irony that they were war games that could also be used to promote peace around the world.”
Kaplan’s exhibit features a gallery and 27-minute video instillation that explores contemporary issues, politics, education, and justice and through the intersection of chess and hip hop. Kaplan also created a Learning Lab, which hosts interactive projects and performances.
Both chess and hip hop transcend racial boundaries and can enlighten, inspire, and educate people while bringing them together across difference. Whether you are deeply steeped in the world of chess or hip hop, or a total novice to both, Kaplan’s exhibit offers a compelling entree into a fascinating world with a powerful message.
If you are in St. Louis, check it out at the World Chess Hall of Fame. And find out more by watching the video trailer below.
It’s that time of year again, y’all – unplug time! On March 6th and 7th, thousands of people across the world from New York and Tel Aviv, to Warsaw and Australia, turn off their cellphones, log out of Instagram, cool it on Snapchat, and take a 24-hour break from technology. If it sounds familiar, there’s a reason. It’s because the ancient Jewish tradition of observing Shabbat (the Sabbath) is the inspiration behind Reboot’s fifth annual National Day of Unplugging.
Based around 10 universal principles called the Sabbath Manifesto – things like “get outside,” “find silence,” and “give back” – The National Day of Unplugging encourages people to temporarily disconnect from their hectic, fast-paced lives and reconnect to the world and people around them. Some folks will join in because they are traditionally observant Jews who “unplug” every week. Some will join because they think it’s eco-friendly to give their electronics a little break. And some will join in simply because they want the opportunity to relax and spend time with family and friends. So why do YOU unplug?
This year, whether you are observant or not – and whether you’re Jewish or not! – sign the pledge to be a part of the National Day of Unplugging. Head to the beach, the forest, your friend’s house, or join in at one of the many unplugging events going on around the country.
Do you have plans to celebrate the National Day of Unplugging? If so, we want to hear about it! Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting @repairtheworld. You can also follow the National Day of Unplugging at @SabbathManifest, #unplug.