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Hanukkah, tikkun olam: Continuing to light the way – opinion

This article originally appeared in The Jerusalem Post on November 22, 2021.
When you dedicate yourself to building a more just world, it’s natural to focus on how much remains to be done in pursuit of such a lofty goal. Tikkun olam, the Jewish value of repairing the world, is an uphill struggle.
Baked into Repair the World’s core organizational values is an acknowledgment that our work will never be finished, yet that doesn’t deter us from advancing it. The Jewish people are called upon to leave our communities stronger than we found them, to make a significant contribution and then to hand the unfinished efforts off to future generations.
Read the full article here

Support our service partners this #GivingTuesday

Repair the World is grateful to partner with 196 nonprofits across the country, who are giving Repair volunteers the opportunity to offer essential services to meet pressing local needs every day–combating food insecurity, supporting individuals experiencing homelessness, addressing educational inequity, and more. In honor of #PartnerPower, and in the spirit of our organizational values of achdoot (solidarity) and hitchazkut (strengthening each other), Repair is dedicating Giving Tuesday this year to our incredible service partners. 

On Tuesday, November 30th, we encourage you to go local and donate to one of our service partners whose mission resonates with you. To find a partner addressing the issues you’re passionate about, take our Service Strength quiz or browse a complete list of our partners across the country below.

REPAIR SERVICE PARTNERS 

ATLANTA

BALTIMORE 

BAY AREA

BOSTON

CHICAGO

CLEVELAND

COLORADO

DETROIT

LOS ANGELES

MIAMI

NEW YORK

PITTSBURGH

VIRTUAL PARTNERS 

How Repair the World’s $5.8 million JCRIF grant will work

This article originally appeared in eJP on November 15th 2021

The field of Jewish service — both its reach and its educational depth — appears poised for a once-in-a-generation transformation in the wake of two multimillion-dollar grants to Repair the World. The Jewish service organization, based in New York City, received a $7 million grant from MacKenzie Scott, while the nearly $6 million grant from the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF) is designed to support not only Repair the World, but also seven partner organizations focused on service opportunities for young Jews.

“It’s not just about lifting up Repair. It’s about lifting up the whole field of Jewish service, and remaking a community that is grounded in service to our neighbors,” Repair the World’s CEO, Cindy Greenberg, said. Read the full article here

Community Garden In Pittsburgh Holds Volunteer Events To Help Community Heal After Tree Of Life Shooting

This article originally appeared on October 27, 2021 in KDKA CBS Pittsburgh

Growing vigorously in a vacant East Liberty lot, bursting from its 18 garden beds with things like fresh tomatoes and peppers, the Sheridan Avenue Orchard and Garden has been providing free produce to the community for almost a decade.

“The goal is that people who are walking by know that they can come in, pick some fresh produce, eat it immediately or take it home with them. Anything that’s not collected, we harvest, and take to the food pantry,” said Julie Mallis, executive director for Repair the World Pittsburgh.

But from the very same soil, those who tend to the garden are sowing seeds of hope.

In the wake of the Tree of Life tragedy three years ago Wednesday, the group started using the community garden for annual volunteer events to help those impacted by the tragedy heal from trauma.

“When I’m in mourning or my friends are in mourning, we’ve found that it’s really meaningful to do something that’s giving of the self,” said Maxwell Reiver, a fellow with Repair the World Pittsburgh. Read the full article here

Jewish Service Alliance Expands Efforts to Make Service a Defining Element of American Jewish Life With Support from New JCRIF Reset Grant

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jason Edelstein, 510-239-1102

October 25, 2021 — The Jewish Service Alliance (JSA), powered by Repair the World, today announced major new plans to make service a defining part of American Jewish life with the support of a $5.8 million Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF) Reset grant. With this new investment, the JSA’s unprecedented coalition of Jewish engagement organizations will leverage partnerships nationally and locally to elevate service and learning and bring more Jewish depth to this growing field. The Jewish Service Alliance is powered by Repair the World (Repair) and includes Hillel International, Honeymoon Israel, JCC Association, JDC Entwine, JFNA, Moishe House, and OLAM.

“This is a critical moment for the Jewish community to live our values,” says Cindy Greenberg, President and CEO of Repair the World. “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our lives are interconnected and there is an urgent need that the Jewish community can address. Generation Z is the most civically engaged generation alive today. No matter where young Jewish adults are, no matter how their Jewishness manifests, we can show them that meaningful service and learning in pursuit of a just world is a Jewish practice that’s accessible throughout their lives.”

The pandemic has exacerbated inequalities that young adults see around them—and that some experience themselves—and increased the care needed by many of their neighbors. Jewish young adults also are concerned about rising anti-Semitism and polarization within the Jewish community. At the same time, the majority of American Jews believe that leading a moral and ethical life (72%) and working for justice and equality (59%) are essential elements of their Jewish identity.

“Jewish college students care more than ever about having a positive social impact, and our partnership with Repair the World has played a crucial role in enabling them to achieve this impact through service,” said Hillel President and CEO Adam Lehman. “We’re thrilled that this new landmark grant will make it possible for even more Jewish college students to take part in deep and meaningful service work that not only strengthens students’ connection to Jewish life, but also enables tangible, positive change in the larger world.”

With JCRIF’s support, the JSA will unlock the enormous reach of its partners to offer meaningful service and learning for tens of thousands of Jewish young adults. This will be done by:

  • Creating infrastructure, offering training, and developing new curriculum to activate Jewish learning opportunities that are accessible and relevant across the Jewish community.
  • Strengthening the role of service within each JSA organization’s core offerings to provide more Jewish young adults and their communities opportunities to serve.
  • Expanding the work to more communities to scale Jewish service to new locations and audiences to reach thousands more Jewish young adults and their communities.

Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America, shared “we are grateful to Repair the World and JCRIF for enabling this important work, which will direct resources to Federations and other key partners towards activating the power of service and helping Jewish communities flourish.”

JCRIF funders for this work include the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, Jim Joseph Foundation, and Maimonides Fund, reflecting both new and expanding support. Recipients of JCRIF’s Reset grants were selected through a rigorous process that began with a public Request for Proposals in February 2021, calling for projects that could “seize this unique moment to reimagine, renew, and reset Jewish communities for the future” and offer “new thinking that can move beyond current organizational boundaries, structures, missions, and program delivery mechanisms.”

“The power and impact of the Jewish service movement come from its partnerships,” adds Greenberg. “Different organizations working together, nationally and locally, enable more young adults to engage in Jewish life and learning that is meaningful to them. The JSA deeply appreciates JCRIF’s continued support of this vision, especially the support from new funders, and is excited to see the other innovative ideas and organizations JCRIF is supporting with this round of grants.”

About the JSA
More than 40 Jewish communal partners founded the Jewish Service Alliance in spring 2020 to mobilize young Jews and their communities to meet COVID-19 needs. In its first year, the JSA mobilized tens of thousands of participants and catalyzed 100,000 acts of service and learning to support nonprofit partners, create customized Jewish service partnerships, and run four national issue-area campaigns. The JSA aims to catalyze one million acts of service and learning (AS&L) cumulatively over the coming years.

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Service event commemorates Tree of Life massacre, spreads positivity through art

Kesher Pittsburgh, in collaboration with the 10.27 Healing Partnership and Repair the World Pittsburgh, hosted “Service Setting Stones of Love and Hope,” a commemorative service event designed to bring together members of the community. People gathered to paint stones with messages of kindness and positivity that will be placed across Pittsburgh, wherever its owner sees fit. Read the full article here

Volunteers Sought For Days Of Service In Honor Of Tree Of Life Victims

This article originally appeared on October 22, 2021 in KDKA CBS Pittsburgh

Next Wednesday marks three years since the tragedy at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill.

Part of the commemoration includes Days of Service, sponsored by Repair The World Pittsburgh. This year, those activities were chosen specifically to reflect causes near to the eleven people who died that day.

“This year we really tried to work with the families to create service sites and projects that were really honoring the legacies and work and contributions of those who we lost and making sure that something that they really cared about is also something that we can continue to work on and inspire people to continue to get involved in and be a part of,” said Julie Mallis, the executive director of Repair The World Pittsburgh. Read the full article here

Creative Approaches to the Sabbatical Year: Debt Relief, Gleaning, Sustainability

The following reflection was written by Lily Brent, Executive Director of Repair the World Atlanta.

In the second month of 5782 (Cheshvan), I’m still thinking about the shmita, or sabbatical year.  The Repair team, and our Atlanta Jewish community, are finding creative ways to interpret this ancient practice for our modern lives.

Deuteronomy 15:1-2 states, “Every seventh year you shall practice remission of debts… everyone who owns a debt, who has one in their hand, shall not press it against their neighbor nor their brother, for God has called for Shmita.” On September 29, Rabbi Samuel Kaye hosted us in the sukkah and taught us about The Temple’s transformative approach to living the spirit of shmita.

“For hundreds of thousands of people living in Atlanta, recovering from illness is not only a physical and spiritual burden – but an extreme financial one as well. Medical procedures cost unfathomable amounts of money for services, and insurance companies denying coverage seemingly at a whim, all while we are at our most vulnerable. Everyone has loved someone who has fallen ill, and most know the dread and shock of opening a medical bill to find out that they owe far more money than they expected; or could ever afford…As a Jewish community, The Temple is taking it upon ourselves to live by the ancient words of our sacred Torah and do our part to alleviate that suffering. We can do this because for everyone $1 we set aside for debt relief, RIP Medical Debt can forgive approximately $100 dollars.”

Atlanta Repair partnered with The Temple and generous donors–small and large–in our community to raise $70,000, which will relieve $7 million in medical debt. Atlantans who earn less than 2 times the federal poverty level, whose debts are 5 percent or more of their annual income, or whose medical debts are greater than their assets will soon be notified that their slate has been wiped clean. I am truly humbled to have been a part of The Temple’s inspired effort where Jewish practice is tangibly changing lives for the better.

Many of us are more familiar with Shmita’s agricultural aspect. Exodus 23:10 reads, “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but in the seventh you shall let it rest and lie fallow. Let the needy among your people eat of it.” This will be Repair’s third year with a fellow supporting our partner Concrete Jungle. As you will see in the spotlight below, Concrete Jungle practices foraging and gleaning year round–“transforming overlooked and underutilized fruit trees and land into a healthy food source for communities in need.”

Finally, in honor of Shmita, I am deeming 5782 Atlanta Repair’s year of organizational sustainability. We have created, invented and expanded rapidly over the last three years–bringing Repair’s Fellowship and Service Corps to Atlanta. This year, I am setting the intention to sink our roots deeper, to cultivate and broaden our base of support, to deepen our learning and reflection, to get even better at what we do best, so that we can grow sustainably far into the future.

 

Our Fellows’ Insight on their Service Partners
Emma:
The people at both Rebecca’s Tent and Historic Westside Gardens have been my favorite part of my experience thus far. Their commitment, drive, and genuine passion for their missions is admirable and they inspire me to root down in my community. They’re also so much fun to be around and make coming to work such a pleasure.

Palmer: The first thing you notice working with both Concrete Jungle and Mind Bubble is the sheer level of care and compassion they bring to the table. They both work in vastly different spaces (food justice and education, respectively) but both are prioritizing the communities they work with above all else. It’s been an amazing start to the fellowship because of them.

Clara Sophia: I am so struck by the joy that the team at PAWkids brings to the work each day. The work can be really heavy, but Miss Latonya and her team choose to meet each person and day with a positive attitude. Even more than attitude, they have the courage to envision a different world. It is so wonderful to be back working alongside the PAWkids team.

Pittsburgh prepares third-year commemoration of Oct. 27 massacre

Commemoration events begin more than a week before the public ceremony. Eighteen volunteer opportunities, beginning Oct. 18, were created by Repair the World as part of “Oct. 27: Remember, Reflect in Spirit and Action.” Most will occur on Oct. 24, the date marking the yahrzeit of the 11 people murdered, said Repair the World Program Manager Jess Gold. The volunteer opportunities include tending the earth, community care, civic engagement and health and wellness. Many of the opportunities were created in conjunction with the victims’ families, Gold said, “in honor of individuals whose lives were lost.”Other service events include an orchard harvest and weeding, a virtual workshop to advocate for gun safety reform, cemetery cleanup along with the Jewish Cemetery and Burial Association, and a blood drive. Read the full article here

Third year of Tree of Life remembrance returns to in-person commemoration

Opportunities to give back to the community at various service sites will be available throughout the month through Repair the World, including cemetery cleanups, packing care kits, a blood drive and more. Julie Mallis, the executive director of Repair the World Pittsburgh, said the programs promote service as a way of healing and allow space for different people to participate in more than one opportunity. The work provides a “physical, tangible way” for people to process the tragedy, Mallis said. “There’s almost a kinetic exchange.” Read the full article here