Kendra Watkins and Ben Ratner Return to Detroit

This originally appeared on The Jewish News on December 5, 2019.

Kendra Watkins and Ben Ratner return to Detroit as Repair the World Fellows working with Detroit Jews for Justice and the Coleman A. Young Elementary School.

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Services Out, Service In

This originally appeared on The New York Jewish Week on December 4, 2019.

Since Repair the World’s launch 10 years ago, the national organization has thrived by equipping young Jews with the tools to tackle pressing needs in their local communities, ranging from food insecurity and housing and education issues to interfaith cooperation and dialogue.

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How To Raise Grateful Kids

This originally appeared on HuffPost on November 22, 2019.

“We have found wonderful local organizations that are connecting with issues that are tangible for kids, like homelessness and food insecurity, and try to make regular time to volunteer as a family alongside and learn from folks who are impacted by and trying to solve the issue,” said Firestone.

They’ve packed “birthday kits” for a food pantry and “winter kits” for a homeless shelter through the organization Repair the World and spent time with volunteers at the Red Hook Farm, which empowers local teens to grow and take home vegetables in a neighborhood with limited access to fresh produce.

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Playdates with a Purpose

This originally appeared on Patch on November 27, 2019.

Repair the World Harlem is excited to return to JCC Harlem on Wednesday, November 27th with this month’s Playdates with a Purpose: Thanksgiving Edition! Playdates with a Purpose is a 1-hour session incorporating facilitated play for youngsters (5 and under), storytime, and adult learning too! November is all about the season of giving, so we’ll reflect on the values of sharing, giving, and welcoming new friends, and then make Thanksgiving bags for our neighbors who need extra supplies for their holiday meal.

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Creating community through food

This originally appeared on Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle on November 20, 2019.

Coming from an observant Jewish family, tikkun olam — Hebrew for “repairing the world” — was central to my upbringing. My family regularly participated in social justice projects, including preparing meals for homeless shelters and packing food boxes at Manna, a community pantry in Potomac, Maryland.

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Press Release: Repair the World Celebrates Ten Years of Making Meaningful Service and Building Bridges a Part of American Jewish Life

Event in Harlem Reflects on Impact and Kicks Off Opportunities to Serve Around the Country

NEW YORK, NY; October 23, 2019 — Hundreds of partners, supporters, and dedicated stakeholders who are passionate about the power of service celebrated Repair the World’s decade-long commitment to making meaningful service a part of American Jewish life last week. Emblematic of Repair’s roots in authentic service with local partners to address communities’ pressing needs, Repair is marking the occasion with #MoreThanService volunteer opportunities and community events throughout the country.

At the anniversary celebration in Harlem, which included a service project with the Community Kitchen and Pantry of West Harlem, Larry Brooks, Board Chair of Repair the World commented, “Our efforts depend on committed people that hold a shared vision–that service can be impactful across communities, meaningful to those involved, and powerful as a vehicle that strengthens relationships. Repair was founded to build a field of Jewish service, one that empowered individuals that seek to live their Jewish values in service to others. Today, we can look back with our partners and friends and see both how much we’ve accomplished and how much work there still is to do.”  

While Repair’s approach has evolved over ten years, what has never changed is the enthusiasm and energy of young adults to serve, learn, and make a difference in their communities, in partnership with those leading their local communities. Over ten years, Repair the World has impacted more than 1,750 Repair community partners, welcomed nearly 200 Repair Fellows and alumni, and engaged more than 160,500 participants. Repair the World has demonstrated that service, when done right, can amplify the impact of local service organizations and can be a meaningful way to engage in Jewish life and to build Jewish community.

Ruth Messinger, Social Justice Consultant and Global Justice Ambassador, AJWS, spoke at the celebration, remarking that everyone associated with Repair—its Fellows, community partners, staff, board, and funders—all played critical roles in making service a defining element of Jewish life. “Repair and its partners have helped to change the understanding that people have of Jewish life. Service is, in fact, the central way that so many of us live out and express our Jewishness–and Repair creates meaningful ways for us to do exactly that.”

Repair was founded in 2009 to make service a defining element of American Jewish life. In 2013, Repair began to engage directly with on the ground work in specific communities through its Repair Communities program, which placed cohorts of young adults in partnerships with trusted local service organizations and supported them in mobilizing and creating service experiences for other young adults. This peer-to-peer model, which is on the ground in nine different communities today, enables Repair Fellows and local staff to work closely with local nonprofits to address urgent community needs including food justice, education justice, criminal justice reform, housing needs, racial equity, and more.

“This year gives me an opportunity to build relationships with my Brooklyn neighbors, work with organizations tackling education justice, and engage young people in service work,” says Brenna Rosen, a Repair the World Fellow in Brooklyn. “I hope to finish my year as a Repair the World Fellow with an increased ability to make change in the world around me and amplify communities with change.”

Repair’s on-the-ground local community efforts are combined with its work building the field of Jewish service and its national partnerships with other organizations to support them in building meaningful and effective service into their work. At key moments in the year, Repair launches online campaigns as a way to galvanize an online community of changemakers. In the last year alone, Repair has reached 1.7 million individuals online through campaigns like MLK Day, encouraging individuals to #ActNow in solidarity with directly impacted communities, and through #ShareHerStory, an online campaign highlighting the untold stories of Jewish Women of Color in connection with the Jewish holiday of Purim. 

All of Repair’s initiatives and resources strive to empower people to engage in difficult conversations, to build deep and transformative relationships within and between their communities, and to translate those values into action through impactful service and learning. Especially in the Jewish community, a generation of young adults who increasingly connect their passion to create change with Jewish heritage and tradition are moved to live out their values through Repair the World. 

“When we talk to others, learn about their struggles, have our eyes opened to different life experiences, we begin to understand the work that needs to be done to make our communities more equitable and better places to live for all,” adds Cindy Greenberg, who recently was named Repair’s President and CEO, following 5 years as executive director of Repair the World New York. “Young people see the challenges in communities and want to be a part of the solution. I’m thrilled to continue Repair’s work with our partners and with our Fellows who envision the change they want—and then commit to making it happen.” 

Repair is grateful for its 10th anniversary sponsors and funders, including the Himan Brown Charitable Trust, Jim Joseph Foundation, PJ Library, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation,  Marcus Foundation, and Insperity.

To learn more about how to get involved and volunteer with Repair the World, visit weRepair.org/volunteer. 

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412 Food Rescue, Repair The World, Circles Greater Pittsburgh Move To East Liberty

This originally appeared on CBS Pittsburgh on October 31, 2019.

The East End Cooperative Ministry (EECM) announced on Oct. 31 that nonprofits 412 Food Rescue, Repair the World and Circles Pittsburgh will join them at their East Liberty campus on 6140 Station Street.

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America Has Already Forgotten the Tree of Life Shooting

This originally appeared on The Atlantic on October 28, 2019.

By Emma Green

Last year’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue was a stone dropping in water, creating concentric circles of grief. At the center were the survivors and the families of victims. Then came the first responders, and the local leaders who handled the overwhelming logistics involved in the aftermath. On and on: members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community. Pittsburghers writ large. American Jews. And, finally, the whole of the country, which saw the attack as part of the long list of mass shootings that have already happened this decade.

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Strengthening Community One Year After Pittsburgh

By Zack Block

Zack Block is a lifelong Pittsburgher committed to building an equitable Pittsburgh.  Zack is also the Senior Director of Communities for Repair the World and the Executive Director of Repair the World Pittsburgh.

As a lifelong Pittsburgher, a Squirrel Hill resident, and a white Ashkenazi Jew, seeing my community in the news for a mass shooting was shocking, difficult, and hard to comprehend. On October 27, 2018, one year ago today, our community was violently attacked in one of the most horrific acts of antisemitism, white nationalism, and hatred this country has seen. I live a few blocks away from the Tree of Life building, and on the day of the shooting, I was first in disbelief, and then horrified. Then, quickly, I jumped into action. I took phone calls at the JCC from the FBI’s hotline and I spoke to the families of the victims. In the last year, I have replayed those phone calls and conversations over and over again in my head. In the last year, I witnessed the ways the Jewish community came together and the way the larger Pittsburgh community grappled with the massacre. In the last year, I have cried, mourned, grown, and learned. And in the last year, I have been pushed to understand that the outpouring of love and support my community received actively causes harm to communities of color, who do not receive similar outpourings of support when they experience their own horrific tragedies.

While the Jewish community is targeted by more hate crimes than other religious groups in the US, systems of government, society, and culture are set up to cause much more harm to communities of color than to white Jews and white Jewish communities. 

Crimes committed against communities of color do not get reported in the media with as much consistency and intensity as crimes committed against the Jewish community. Fewer eyes on the issues translates to less support for healing and recovery. No matter the community, we all deserve equal attention, love, and support during times of tragedy.

It is time for us to embody Jewish values and work alongside communities of color to create a more just and equitable society. Cross-community connections and relationships have been intentionally severed by white nationalism, which looks to pit different minority groups against each other for white nationalism’s own benefit. Showing up through service and ongoing volunteering helps to repair those crucial connections that we will lean on during times of acute and ongoing crisis.

At Repair the World Pittsburgh, we are shining a bright light on racism and antisemitism and islamophobia and xenophobia and all the hate that keeps people oppressed in the name of white nationalism. It has been one year since the horrific shooting at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh. Please join us over the next year as we have hard conversations and serve with others to help heal, to show solidarity, and to strengthen our relationships and communities. 

Over the weekend, Repair cities across the country will mark the one-year commemoration of Tree of Life in service and learning alongside local communities. And, in Pittsburgh, in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, JCC of Greater of Pittsburgh, JFCS Pittsburgh, and other countless partners, we will facilitate learning at 30 service projects to serve in solidarity with our local neighbors.

Here’s A List Of Events Around The Country Commemorating The Tree Of Life Shooting

This originally appeared on Forward on October 25, 2019.

By Ari Feldman

his Sunday marks one year since the shooting at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha synagogue in Pittsburgh, in which 11 people were killed. Anniversaries of deaths have great significance in Judaism. They are commonly called the _yahrzeit,_ a Yiddish word which simply means “the time of the year.” Jewish organizations across the country have organized commemoration events to mark the day, and many synagogues are dedicating their Sabbath services on Saturday to the memory of the 11.

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