Archive for : Holidays

Turn the Tables: A Refugee-Focused Seder in Kansas City

This interview is being shared as part of #SupportforRefugees, Repair the World’s campaign focusing on the global refugee crisis. All across the country this Passover, people found ways to share refugees’ stories during their seders and to talk about the issues they face. Using resources and materials from Repair the World’s Turn the Tables project, they were able to add additional meaning and spark important conversations at their tables. Here, Kansas City resident, Malinda Kimmel, talks about her experience hosting a Turn the Tables seder for friends and family from a wide range of political backgrounds.

What inspired you to host a refugee-focused Passover seder?
For me and my family, this seder made sense. Refugee issues are something we are passionate about, and Pesach is a story of leaving one country for another to come to freedom and safety. Also, three of our seder participants work at JVS Kansas City, an organization that works to resettle new refugees into our community. The seder allowed us to share with others the importance of refugee resettlement in our community.

How did you weave refugee issues into the seder?
We began our seder with the Turn the Tables guided discussion. We made sure all guests understood our seder was to be a safe space for open discussion and respectful conversation. Our guests really jumped in and opened up, allowing us to talk about the connection between Jews in Egypt and others now who flee their countries for freedom and safety.
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From Queen Esther to Emma Watson

It’s no coincidence that the Jewish holiday of Purim typically falls in March, AKA Women’s History Month. Okay, maybe it’s a coincidence, but it’s a great one. The Purim story, after all, is built around two mighty women: one who stands up for her rights (Queen Vashti) and another who stands up for the rights and safety of her people (Queen Esther).

As we remember and celebrate Jewish tradition’s early female heroines, it is also important to remember that women’s rights issues – everything from gender pay inequality, to women’s healthcare and education access – are still critically important both in America and around the world. That’s why, this Purim, we want to shed light on this ongoing work.

Who better to do that than Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations, Emma Watson, herself? In addition to giving a killer speech about gender equality at the UN a couple years back, Watson is a leader of HeforShe, a UN Women campaign focused on bringing all voices around the world together in support of women’s rights.

In the video below, Watson teams up with Broadway star Lin Manuela Miranda (of Hamilton) for an amazing beat box/freestyle flow session about gender equality. It’s worth a watch – we may have watched it twice – and a visit to the UN’s HeforShe campaign page.

And for more on Purim’s heroines, check out this post on My Jewish Learning called Vashti & Esther: A Feminist Perspective.

#8Nights of Hanukkah Service: Give Unexpectedly

Join Repair the World in celebrating the #8Nights of Hanukkah service as we dedicate the Festival of Lights to helping others. Each day we will suggest a service project, donation opportunity, or other way to spread tikkun olam and get involved for the holiday. After all, Hanukkah is a holiday of miracles – why not make some? Tonight: Give unexpectedly.

We’ve all got long holiday shopping lists. There’s mom and dad, bubbe and little sis. Add on best friends, teachers, and your significant other and that’s a lot of Hanukkah prezzies to coordinate.

But this year, we invite you to think about your Hanukkah gift list a little more broadly. There are so many people who make a huge difference in our daily lives in little ways. There’s the barista who always remembers your order. There’s the UPS driver who walks your packages up to your door, and the blogger you’ve never met who writes something that makes you cry tears of relief/recognition/happiness.

There’s the teacher you had in 5th grade who’s voice and wisdom you still hear in your head all these years later. There’s the nurse at your doctor’s office who comforted you at your last appointment, and the guy in the subway who makes your commute better by playing his fiddle.

Whatever and whoever these people are, our interactions with them make our days a little brighter. And these moments of tiny, quiet kindness bring light into our year the way the Hanukkah menorah brings light to our homes.. So this year, be ready to surprise them with a Hanukkah gift when they least expect it.

There are a million ways to achieve this goal, but here’s one idea: Make up a bunch of cards (MOO lets you make super stylish ones – or just print out something simple out on your computer) with an image you love on one side and the words “Thanks for making my day brighter. Happy Holidays” on the other. Carry a handful of them around in your bag along with some chocolates. Whenever you have an encounter with someone kind, hand over a card and a chocolate along with a smile.

You’ll make their day – and their holiday – as much as they make yours.

Keep your eyes peeled for each service gift idea – and this Hanukkah, let your spirit for volunteering last for eight days and nights!

#8Nights of Hanukkah Service: Give Information

Join Repair the World in celebrating the #8Nights of Hanukkah service as we dedicate the Festival of Lights to helping others. Each day we will suggest a service project, donation opportunity, or other way to spread tikkun olam and get involved for the holiday. After all, Hanukkah is a holiday of miracles – why not make some? First up: give the gift of information.

Let’s face it, the news these days can be more confusing then illuminating. On this first day of Hanukkah, give your loved ones and the people in your wider community the chance to get informed and empowered with knowledge. Here’s how.

Give: Magazines. Purchase your friend a yearlong (or two years!) subscription to The New Yorker, the Economist, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Tablet Magazine, or another magazine that offers in-depth, reported pieces on stories that matter.

Give: Books. Same idea as above, but replace a timely, thought provoking book in the place of a magazine. Ta-Nehishi Coates’ Between the World and Me and I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai are two great options.

Give: Education. Make a donation to DonorsChoose, a website that lets classroom teachers crowdfund supplies and educational resources they need for their classrooms.

Give: Experience. Nothing teaches quite like reflecting on one’s personal experiences. Volunteer at an organization like 826, a writing and tutoring center that gives young students the incomparable opportunity to share their stories.

Keep your eyes peeled for each service gift idea – and this Hanukkah, let your spirit for volunteering last for eight days and nights!