Archive for : Yom Kippur

Repair Interview: Rachel Sumekh of Swipe Out Hunger

Repair the World recently launched our High Holiday campaign, focused on advancing racial justice and building relationships between communities. There are many different ways to get involved (Learn about the root causes of racial injustice in America. Host or attend a Turn the Tables dinner. Take action in solidarity with our neighbors as a multiracial Jewish community.) – and we encourage you to explore them all.

Meanwhile, we will be introducing you to some of our favorite change makers. Here’s Rachel Sumekh, the Founding Executive Director of Swipe Out Hunger. Sumekh co-founded the organization – which lets students donate unused points from university meal plans to feed peers and community members facing hunger – during her sophomore year at UCLA. Today, Swipe Out Hunger exists on 23 campuses across the country, and is changing the conversation about poverty and food insecurity on college campuses. Read on…

What was the inspiration behind Swipe Out Hunger?
It started out because we were annoyed with the university for creating meal plans where students who had excess points at the end of a semester lost them. It began informally, with students going into dining halls and buying meals to go, then giving them to homeless and other food insecure people. But the university had some issues with this model. Fortunately, rather than stopping us, they said we should develop a new model. Today, if a student has extra meal swipes, they can opt into the Swipe Out Hunger program and convert that money into resources to help food insecure students.

Read more

Repair the World Launches “Act Now for Racial Justice” Campaign

Offering opportunities to stand against racial injustice through service, Repair the World today launched Act Now for Racial Justice, a campaign that coincides with the Jewish High Holidays and that will continue through MLK Day and Passover in 2017. The campaign includes resources for young adults to learn how racism permeates economic, social, and criminal justice systems; to host meals and discussions with peers exploring how our food systems perpetuate racial injustice; and to take action and serve with communities to move closer to racial justice.

“Like in the Black community, young adults are leading our Jewish community in creating change; and, by standing in solidarity, they are making a meaningful difference, sending an important signal, and building deep relationships across racial lines,” said David Eisner, CEO of Repair that World. “Our Jewish values compel us to stand for racial justice and to right the wrongs we see nearly daily; this feels especially urgent right now, as we look to understand where we’ve fallen short over the past year, and to mark the New Year by resolving to do better. Act Now for Racial Justice offers our community tools to take action through service in a Jewish context, and to address important inequities in our communities.”

The meals hosted during the campaign will be part of Repair the World’s Turn The Tables initiative, and will include educational materials, including discussion guides. A portion of the meals are supported by OneTable.

Learn more at werepair.org/high-holidays, including information on service opportunities around the country to counteract racial injustices in food and educational equity. Follow #ActNowForRacialJustice on Twitter for stories and interviews with Jews of color and others standing against racial injustice Act Now for Racial Justice will continue to offer service and reflection opportunities year-round, including on MLK Day and Passover 2017.

To stand as allies with victims of racial injustice, Repair will send a Jewish delegation to Facing Race, November 10-12 in Atlanta, GA. Facing Race is a collaborative endeavor to grow the racial justice movement and the largest multiracial, intergenerational gathering for organizers, educators, creatives and other leaders.

“Meaningful service in solidarity with communities of color is a powerful way to take a stand against racial injustice,” Eisner adds. “We are all part of America’s racial justice journey and young adults often look for activeroles they can play to positively impact this journey. Frankly, each of us already play a role in the racial justice journey of our community and our country.  The question we each need to ask is whether we are satisfied today with what that role has been.”

Food Justice Resources for Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is perhaps the best known Jewish holiday. It’s the biggie – the holiday of repentance when Jewish people across the country head to synagogue, even if it isn’t part of their regular practice. And, of course, it is a fast day. Unlike most other Jewish holidays, which are centered around what to eat, Yom Kippur is centered around not eating.

This ritual fasting is meant to help people focus less on the material world and more on spiritual matters – to purify the body in a way that makes it fit for the work at hand. But it also brings to mind the millions of people around the country and world who fast every day, and not by choice. This Yom Kippur, which falls during Hunger Action Month, take a little time during the holiday to think about food justice on a deeper level. Here are some great resources to get you started:

Isaiah and the Food Stamp Challenge This article, by Rabbi Edward Bernstein draws connections between the words of the Prophet Isaiah on fasting with the contemporary Food Stamp Challenge that many people are taking. It’s a compelling read!

Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic Put out by the Reform Movement, this anthology talks about the connections between faith, food, and justice. There are many fascinating essays specifically related to food justice, but we suggest reading the whole thing.

Food For Thought Hazon’s sourcebook on Jews, food, and contemporary issues would make great reading for Yom Kippur day.

Jewish Perspectives on Food Justice URJ has made available an interesting webinar all about ethical eating and how it relates to Jewish tradition. Download the full recorded session and the Power Point presentation that went along with it.

#TomatoRabbis T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights is well known for its activism around securing fair wages for tomato workers. Find out more about their great work, and download this handout of sermon topics.

How to: Rock Hunger Action Month with Repair the World

September is Hunger Action Month -30 days dedicated to fighting against hunger in our communities. It is also the month of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the two most sacred days on the Jewish calendar. Coincidence? Maybe. Opportunity? Definitely.

This year, in conjunction with Hunger Action Month, Repair the World’s Inspire Service campaign is focusing on food justice. Throughout the high holidays, September 13-23, we and our amazing team of movement leaders are cooking up all kinds of events and opportunities to help people make our food system healthier, more sustainable, and more just.

There are tons of events going on, from garden plantings at local schools, to delivering for Meals on Wheels, to volunteering on an urban farm. To get you psyched, here’s a snapshot of four events working with food banks in Feeding America’s national network. Food banks play a huge role in closing the hunger gap. They provide people in need with nourishing food and support when they need it most. Here’s how you can help:

San Francisco: On Sept 16, volunteer at the San Francisco Food Bank warehouse, sorting and packaging food to be distributed to food pantries across the city.

Kansas City: On Sept 10, help food pantry clients shop for Rosh Hashanah in the Jewish Family Services food pantry.

Pennsylvania: On Sept 24, help stock the West Chester Food Cupboard, a food pantry based in West Chester, PA.

North Carolina: On Sept 17, volunteer to help sort, inspect, and pack food for distribution at the Food Bank of Metrolina in Charlotte, NC.

Don’t live near one of the events listed above? Don’t fret. Check out this nifty map to find an event in your community, and help Repair the World Inspire Service this September and beyond!

Making Time for Service on Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur this year begins the evening of September 13. That means, the countdown to the annual synagogue marathon and 25 hours sans food or drink begins now. But in between the Rabbi’s sermon and rumbling stomachs, Yom Kippur can be a wonderful time to serve.

If you plan to be in services all day, much respect! But if you have an hour or more to spare, why not fill it in a meaningful way by making time for service and volunteering? Here are some great ways to serve this Yom Kippur:

Be on the lookout for literature. If you are heading to synagogue this Yom Kippur, take a few minutes to pass by the synagogue bulletin boards or information tables. Chances are, there are plenty of opportunities to plug in and volunteer, or brochures from world-changing organizations waiting there for you to pick them up.

Volunteer at a soup kitchen. For those who fast during Yom Kippur, it may seem a bit cruel and unusual to spend extra time around food. But serving others actually helps the time pass more quickly, and is a meaningful way to engage.

Commit to the Food Stamp Challenge. Raise awareness (yours and other people’s) about the injustices of food insecurity by committing to eat for a week at food stamp rates. If you feel compelled, make a donation to Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger as well.

Hold a book swap at your break fast Are you hosting or going to a break fast? Add books to your bagels and lox by organizing a book swap. Ask each guest to bring a few books they no longer want. After everyone drinks their OJ and has their fill of kugel, invite them to browse the books and take some home. Donate any leftover books to an organization like Books Through Bars, Housing Works, or Better World Books.

How will you make time for service this Yom Kippur? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us at @repairtheworld.

Social Justice Texts and Resources for the High Holidays

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the two most important holidays of the Jewish calendar. This year, add an extra level of significance to your holiday with these inspiring service and social justice related texts and resources:

AJWS Repair the World’s partner organization, American Jewish World Service, has a whole slew of social justice related resources for the high holidays, including this inspiring sermon by Rabbi David Wolpe.

Elie Wiesel The critically acclaimed author of Night shares his thoughts on what being Jewish means to him.

Reform Judaism: This collection of resources shares lots of ways to incorporate service and social justice into the high holiday season, from feeding the hungry to holding a social justice tashlikh ceremony.

The Jew & The Carrot Celebrate Rosh Hashanah in sustainable style with Hazon’s eco-friendly Rosh Hashanah resources.

Uri L’Tzedek The Orthodox social justice organization, and Repair the World partner, created an awesome guide for self reflection on the high holidays.

Do you know of another great social justice, service, or eco-friendly high holiday text or resource? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @repairtheworld.

High Holidays 2013: 10 Days of Awe, 10 Ways to Serve

The high holidays are nearly here! In just a few days (starting the evening of September 4), Rosh Hashanah – aka the Jewish New Year – kicks off of the high holiday season. A little more than a week later we come to Yom Kippur, which is considered the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

The 10 days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, often called the “days of awe,” are a joyful time filled with family and celebration. They are also a very solemn and important time when Jewish people turn inward and reflect upon their lives, relationships, and spirituality. In doing so, they aim to return to the best versions of themselves, and set good intentions for the coming year.

The high holiday season also offers an amazing opportunity to make a commitment to service and helping others. So in honor of the 10 Days of Awe, Repair the World is bringing you 10 ways to serve during – and after – the high holiday season. To amp up the high holiday spirit even further, each service opportunity is linked to a symbol of either Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.

Learn more about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur’s significance, traditions, and connections to service, and have a shana tova / happy new year!

APPLES
Tradition: There is a custom of eating apples on Rosh Hashanah. Their sweetness and round shape represent our hopes for a sweet and full New Year.
How to serve: Help the farmers who grow those apples – and all the produce we eat! Shop at the farmer’s market, find where to get local food near you via Local Harvest, and check out our partner organizations, Jewish Farm School, Adamah, and Urban Adamah.

HONEY
Tradition: Those delicious apples get dipped in honey, which represents even more sweetness.
How to serve: Support the pollinators! Sponsor a honeybee hive through The Honeybee Conservancy.

SHOFAR
Tradition: The shofar, a sacred instrument made out of a ram’s horn, is blown throughout the high holidays to punctuate the services, focus our thoughts and prayers, and call people to justice and action.
How to serve: Volunteer for campaigns and organizations that work to “sound a call for justice” in their own way – check out the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, Bend the Arc, and Jews United for Justice.

PRAYER BOOK
Tradition: Throughout Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we read from a special prayer book called the machzor.
How to serve: Books and reading are important for everyone! Volunteer at your local Reach Out and Read chapter to support early childhood literacy.

SYNAGOGUE
Tradition: Many people attend spiritual prayer services during the high holidays – it’s kind of like Superbowl Sunday for synagogues!
How to serve: If you belong to or attend a synagogue, check out their event calendar online. Chances are, there are lots of ways to plug in and help out. And read this awesome story in Tablet about how a bar mitzvah boy focused his mitzvah project on saving a synagogue in Selma, Alabama.

POMEGRANATES
Tradition: Some communities have a custom of eating pomegranates on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. The bountiful seeds inside represent our wishes for abundant joy in the coming year. Some people also say that a pomegranate has 613 seeds, which represent the 613 commandments in the Torah.
How to serve: Think about ways that you could bring “abundant joy” to someone you love. Do one of them during the Days of Awe, and watch their face light up.

TASHLICH
Tradition: On Rosh Hashanah, there is a custom of symbolically casting off one’s sins, by throwing bits of bread into a natural body of water.
How to serve: Help to ensure that all people have access to clean water. Support the work of organizations like Charity Water and take action by writing a letter to Congress in support of the Water for the World Act.

FASTING
Tradition: There is a tradition of fasting on Yom Kippur as a way of putting aside bodily needs for the day and focusing instead on reflection and prayer.
How to serve: Make a commitment to ensure that people have access to the food they need to survive. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, contribute to the work at the Food Bank for New York City, or a local food bank near you, or make a donation to Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

FORGIVENESS
Tradition: On Yom Kippur we ask forgiveness of others and of God for any wrong doings from the previous year. We also are asked to forgive – an act that can be even more difficult!
How to serve: Write a list of people in your life you would like to ask forgiveness from. Call them, email them, or meet them in person and tell them how you feel. You might be surprised by how good you feel after.

FAMILY
Tradition: Both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur offer opportunities for people to gather together and spend time with family and friends.
How to serve: Support families by supporting women and children in developing countries. Check out the Half the Sky Movement to find out how you can make a difference.