The traditional Jewish mandate to assist God in sustaining and repairing the world has taken on new meaning and urgency in our age of widespread environmental degradation and untold human suffering.
On October 19, 2010, Repair the World’s Rabbi-in-Residence, Rabbi Will Berkovitz, addressed students at University of St. Thomas, St. Paul Campus. Drawing on classical and contemporary sources, Rabbi Berkovitz explored how we may respond to this mandate through the cultivation of life-affirming spirituality and civic engagement.
Play Tag online and you can win two free tickets on JetBlue!
Tag, the quintessential children’s playground game, might have been banned in many schools around the country out of fear of injuries, but it’s coming back in vogue, at least virtually. The HandsOn Network has introduced a new way to play Tag online, intending to accrue volunteers to a whole host of projects and causes …as opposed to lawsuits.
Here’s how it works: Someone you know “tags” you because you’re known for your contributions to your community. Then you log onto GetHandsOn.com, tag others and let everyone know what you’re going to do to better your community, environment, school, and so on, by making a “commitment,” which is an online proclamation of what action you plan to take.
During his journey to find a wife for his master Avraham’s son, the servant Eliezer turns to God for help: “Let it be that the maiden to whom I will say, ‘Please tip over your jug so I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will even water your camels,’ her will You have designated for Your servant, for Isaac.” God’s response is immediate: Even before Eliezer finishes his request, he spots Rivka and asks her for water. As in his prayer, Rivka offers water not only for Eliezer to drink but also for his camels.
Some civic-minded Brooklyn graffiti. Photo by Vige (CC)
Last Sunday, I ventured down from my apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan into Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, to volunteer to get out the vote with Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), a local community organization. I joined 30 other Jews as part of a larger effort in multiple cities pulled together by the Jewish Social Justice Round Table and spearheaded in New York by Jewish Funds for Justice (full disclosure: I work at JFSJ and have known and loved FUREE’s work for years).
This was the first political outreach I had ever done. I was a little nervous and a lot excited. I wasn’t sure how I would feel canvassing in a neighborhood I had never stepped foot into before or how the community, which is largely African American, would react to me and a bunch of other Jews knocking on their doors, talking about voting, and collecting signatures.
We all know the story of when a man provoked Rabbi Hillel to sum up the whole Torah while standing on one foot. His simple reply: “What is hateful to thyself do not do unto thy neighbor. That is the whole Torah. The rest,” he famously asserted, “is commentary.”
Seems easy enough. But this raises an obvious question: Just who exactly is our neighbor?
Are animals our neighbors, and if so, how can we better reflect that in our lives?
A brief video about the Agohozo Shalom Youth Village.
The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) is a safe and structured residential community for orphaned children in Rwanda. The Village, which opened its doors to its first class of students in December 2008, is a place of hope where traumatized youth can “dry their tears” (Agahozo) and “live in peace” (Shalom). In December 2010 the third class will enter the Village, for a total of 378 students.
Within this caring environment, the rhythm of life is restored, so that youth who have been through great trauma find a home and a community, as well as a place to learn and become leaders for tomorrow. The youth who come to live and learn in the ASYV will grow into healthy adults who are not only able to care for themselves and their families, but who are also committed to making their community, their country, and indeed the world a better place.
Repair the World's Director of Digital Strategy, Daniel Sieradski.
Repair the World’s very own Director of Digital Strategy, Daniel Sieradski has just been named to the Forward 50, which is the the Forward newspaper’s annual listing of the some of the most influential Jews whose work is having a tremendous impact both in and outside of the Jewish community.
So why is Sieradski on this year’s list? Well for starters, there are all the websites and blogs he founded including Jewschool, which has become a forum for young progressive Jews to discuss social and political issues affecting the community. Then there was the website he compiled early this year throughout the month of January of cutting edge ideas for online and offline Jewish initiatives, and his latest project, Jew It Yourself, which, set to launch next year, is intended to provide tools to Jews interested in self-directed learning and community building.
A friend died of cancer a couple nights ago. The funeral was today. Merrily was a woman who didn’t pull punches and saw the essence of things. She didn’t just show up when you called her. She was there. An artist by training who had seen too much suffering — her daughter died a few years back leaving two young children and a huge void. Merrily lived the beauty and pain of life. She understood that in some pain there may be beauty, but we need not seek beauty in suffering. There is only suffering and our response to it. Her response was to look outward. Maybe compassion is the milk of disease.
On Tuesday, October 26, Repair the World CEO Jon Rosenberg discussed his vision for Repair the World and the future of Jewish service in North America at a Jumpstart Innovation Forum event at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. The event, which was livestreamed by the Jewish Journal, is available for viewing below.
When I got involved in Jews For Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), I already had a strong identity as a feminist, progressive, observant and (occasionally) radical Jew. I was participating in AVODAH, the Jewish Service Corps, after 13 years of Jewish education and additional four years active in my college’s Hillel where I’d been the social justice chair. To say I was firmly ensconced in the progressive Jewish community was a bit of an understatement. Yet despite the amazing work I was doing at AVODAH (direct service as a paralegal dealing with elder issues) and the full-scale immersion in the Jewish nonprofit world in New York, I still felt that something was missing. As much as I talked about advocacy work, grassroots organizing, and systemic change, I was still only helping a one client and problem at a time, and I kept seeing the same issues repeating themselves.
At the ripe old age of 24, I was becoming cynical. I felt frustrated with the Jewish progressive movement, including the kind of issues it was willing to tackle and the scope of its work. But more than the institutional bounds, I was frustrated by myself. I had been imposing limits on the kind of work I thought I could do.