Artist Spotlight: Anthony Mordechai Tsvi Russell

In the month leading up to MLK Day, our blog will be exploring diverse expressions of art created by people of color. The blog will highlight artists, collaborators, performers, poets, filmmakers, and everything in between. We will be exploring creative outlets that express the various ways racial injustice exists today.

In addition to reading, you can join our MLK Campaign and help us serve in solidarity by hosting and volunteering. Together we can #ActNowForRacialJustice.

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Repair the World Ramps Up Campaign to Engage Thousands for MLK Day 2017

This post originally appeared in eJewish Philanthropy on December 16, 2016.

By EJP

Repair the World has unveiled new resources to boost participation in Act Now for Racial Justice, the campaign engaging young adults in supporting racial justice through volunteer service, dialogue, and learning. Post-election, Repair the World has seen a marked increase in young adults stepping up to take action to address the needs of marginalized communities, and a flood of new volunteers supporting efforts to restore equity around issues like education and food justice.

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“Act Now for Racial Justice” with New Resources and Opportunities Post-Election

This post originally appeared on My Social Good News on December 14, 2016

By Adi Podder

One month ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2017, Repair the World unveiled new resources to boost participation in Act Now for Racial Justice, the campaign engaging young adults in supporting racial justice through volunteer service, dialogue, and learning. Post-election, Repair the World has seen a marked increase in young adults stepping up to take action to address the needs of marginalized communities, and a flood of new volunteers supporting efforts to restore equity around issues like education and food justice.

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Post-Election Service

At Repair the World, we’ve engaged thousands of Jewish millennials and our neighbors in meaningful service to address inequity in our four community hubs – Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Detroit. In the past year, as our work began more explicitly focusing on racial justice, we’ve done a lot of listening; since the election, our listening has intensified. We’ve gathered community members for open space meetings and for conversation over the Shabbat dinner tables, we’ve attended community gatherings led by community organizers and local politicians, and we’ve talked to our neighbors and our community partners.

Here’s some of what we’ve been hearing:

  • Fear. We’ve heard fear that people of color, Muslims, immigrants, people that identify as LGBTQ, and members of the Jewish community are not safe. The fear is real and palpable, and it comes from both those groups and those who consider themselves allies. The uptick in violence since the election — racist threats and actions, and violence against individuals based on whom they supported — has heightened their concerns.
  • A desire to act. People, especially young people, want to take action and shift their priorities. Some are interested in getting more involved politically, and some want to take action locally to stand in solidarity with their neighbors.
  • A desire to connect across difference, especially among white people. For some this means wanting to get to know more people in their diverse neighborhoods. Jews want to organize meals with Muslims. White people want to show up to connect with people of color. And, others are looking for ways to connect across the political divide, either locally or nationally.

At Repair, we believe that service has a more powerful role to play in America than ever before.

  • Serving together is one of the most effective opportunities for people to connect across differences to build and strengthen community. Whether building relationships with people serving alongside you or finding a better understanding of underserved individuals, service can expose us to those who hold different perspectives and life experiences, helping us to grow and become stronger.
  • Service offers a deeply Jewish response to addressing inequality and injustice. We recall that the Torah teaches us to care for the stranger and those who are vulnerable thirty-six times, invoking our memory of what it was like to be strangers in the land of Egypt. Service allows us to address immediate shortcomings, even when systemic or political change feels daunting.
  • Service allows everyone to take action in solidarity. There’s an obvious unevenness to how inequities impact us. For those less directly affected by these unfairnesses, addressing them through action and service can demonstrate that we stand with those who face more adversity.
  • Service heals both those of us who serve and those with whom we serve. When emotional strains pull at us, acting externally to repair society’s brokenness can help make us whole internally.

In the coming weeks and months, Repair the World will be recommitting to our efforts to make service a defining element of Jewish life.

In NYC, we are launching a new Volunteer Corps whose members will commit to volunteering at least twice a month with our service partners in Central Brooklyn.

In Philly, we’re holding a Post-Election Cocktails with a Conscience on the evening of Thursday, December 8 at our Workshop at 4029 Market St. In addition to offering each other support and comfort, we’ll have a chance to take stock of where we are, to determine what action steps we want to take to move forward as a community, and to advance and defend values and principles like fairness, justice, compassion, and kindness that are at the core of who we are. This gathering will be followed by a Day of Service on Sunday, December 18, in addition to other actions we’ll shape together.

In Pittsburgh, we are continuing to work with and listen to our community in the way that we did in holding an evening of healing on November 9th. As part of these efforts, we’ll be holding a Cocktails with a Conscience event on December 2nd at our Workshop at 6022 Broad Street. This will be followed by a dinner on December 8th, where we’ll talk about hunger in our city and outline specific work done to combat it. We will follow that up with a lot of service opportunities around MLK Day as well as ways to innovate for the social good in our community.

In Detroit, we are continuing to work with Freedom House to offer a safe space and educational workshops to the refugees and asylum seekers they house and planning Southwest Holiday Fest for December 10 to showcase the proud diversity and inclusion of of Mexicantown.

In Baltimore, we are continuing to work alongside our community partners to produce relevant and impactful action and learning. On December 9, in partnership with Jews United for Justice, we are hosting a Turn the Tables Shabbat Dinner where we will be discussing water affordability and accessibility, a major issue in Baltimore, as well as nationally and globally. We will also be holding days of service on Mitzvah Day (December 24-25) and on MLK Day (January 13-16) where we will be exploring racial injustices, religious tolerance, and other issues as they impact the Baltimore community.

Nationally, we are expanding Act Now for Racial Justice, a campaign to engage individuals and organizations in meaningful discussions and in action through service that shows solidarity and makes a difference in creating more cohesion in support of ending systemic racism.

We are committed to living and acting upon our values, no less now than before November 8. This call to justice binds us to vulnerable and marginalized people in our communities, and we hope that our answering that call through service will resonate with the Jewish community. We invite everyone to be a part of a stronger and more just world.

Relentless Collaboration a Hallmark of Effort to Repair a Fractured World

This post originally appeared in The Jewish Chronicle on November 23, 2016.

By Zack Block

As fall turns to winter, I am increasingly aware of the importance of service organizations’ role in effecting social change. As American Jews were celebrating the New Year on Rosh Hashanah and acknowledging our sins and atoning for any pain we may have caused on Yom Kippur, yet more black men were shot by police officers. In 2016 alone, at least 194 black people have perished at the hands of police in cities all over the country.

Read more:  The Jewish Chronicle – Relentless collaboration a hallmark of effort to repair a fractured world

‘Airbnb of Shabbat’ to Ease Political Tension

This post originally appeared in The Atlanta Jewish Times on November 22, 2016.

By Rachel Fayne Gruskin

Jewish millennials are feeling political divisions and tensions after the election, but several organizations are making it easier for Jews in their 20s and 30s to come together in a traditional way — over the Shabbat table.

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A Racial Justice Shabbat Dinner with Michael Twitty

Shabbat dinner naturally has a lot going for it. The food (challah! matzo ball soup!), the singing, the camaraderie, the chance to truly rest and enjoy friends and family after a long week – it’s hard to improve upon. But one recent Shabbat dinner held in Atlanta, Georgia last week stands out from the pack.

On November 11, Repair the World hosted a #TurntheTables Shabbat dinner as part of our time at Facing Race: A National Conference – a multiracial, intergenerational gathering focused on racial and social justice. We had spent time at the conference engaging with and learning from community organizers, educators, interfaith clergy members, and other leaders of the racial and social justice movements, and it was time to rest and recharge.

Michael Twitty As night fell and the Shabbat candles were lit, more than 100 people joined together around the table (or rather, many tables!) for dinner, discussion, and a conversation with culinary historian and writer, Michael Twitty.

Twitty focuses much of his scholarship on the history and culture behind African and African-diaspora cuisines, as well as on the idea of “identity cooking” – his theory about the way people construct and express their complex identities through food. As a Black Jewish man, Twitty often writes about his own experiences melding the, as he writes on his website, “histories, tastes, flavors, and Diasporic wisdom of being Black and Jewish.”

With the results of the national Presidential election just 3 days old, he spoke about the commonalities and distinctions between the Jewish and Black experience as minorities in America, and the critical importance of loving and protecting one another as full and complex human beings.

During dinner, guests were also prompted to discuss questions around the table like, “Where are you coming from in your racial justice journey?” which gave them a chance to get to know one another on a deeper level. The dinner closed with an alternative take of the Birkat Hamazon – or the grace/thanks traditionally said after meals in the Jewish tradition. The words of the blessing said it all:

“Giving and receiving we open up our hands / from seedtime to harvest we’re partners with the land.
We all share a vision of wholeness and release / Where every child is nourished and we all live in peace.”

For more information about Repair the World’s #TurntheTables Shabbat dinner, check out the article in the Atlanta Jewish Times, read through the dinner guide Repair the World created, and listen to Twitty’s speech in full.

Naming the Nebulousness: Reflections on being White and Jewish in the Racial Justice Space after Attending the 2016 Facing Race National Conference

This post originally appeared on eJewishPhilanthropy on November 17, 2016.

By Cheryl Pruce

Uncomfortable. Uplifted. Confused. Held. Frustrated. Supported. Disheartened. Inspired. These are some of the things I have been feeling before, during, and after attending Facing Race: A National Conference the past three days in Atlanta. On the one hand, I have immense gratitude for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and any other sponsors of the Repair the World conference delegation for being able to attend. On the other hand, I have I have been struggling. With many things.

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Shabbat and the Sacredness of Healing

This post originally appeared on eJewishPhilanthropy on November 17, 2016.

By Sandy Cardin

Imagine the scene: you walk into the dining room or kitchen and see the table filled with empty platters, messy plates, strewn utensils, crumpled napkins and even a few spills. In the next room, there is a crowd of guests in a post-meal daze, some praising the meal, some critiquing it, all perhaps acknowledging that they ate and drank a bit too much. Some people feel satisfied, some feel like they ate in excess, and more than a few are beginning to doze off from indulgence and exhaustion.

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