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Sabbatical Year: How rest and reflection can volunteer new insights on service

By Rabbi Jessy Dressin, Senior Director of Jewish Education
and Wendy Rhein, Senior Director of Philanthropy

Youth Spirit Art Works Volunteer Work Day

It’s spring 2021, and Jaqob Harris (xe/xem/xyr)* has just arrived at 1Hood Media, a Pittsburgh nonprofit, inspired to help meet a pressing need in xyr community. Jaqob is there to assist with election education, but in the process xe gets to know folks in xyr extended community and listens to stories about the experiences of xyr neighbors. Reflecting later, Jaqob speaks of much more than the work xe performed:

“The most significant change for me has to be how much I learned about myself, and how others view the issues we face,” said Jaqob, a member of Repair the World’s Service Corps spring 2021 cohort. “I had the opportunity to think about and look into how we experience modern racism, oppression, discrimination, etc., and how it’s perpetrated throughout national and local systems — as opposed to just being told that it exists.”

As Jaqob learned, sometimes unexpected insights volunteer themselves to us when we serve. This Rosh Hashanah, we welcome a shmita year, or Sabbatical year — a year that invites us to approach things from a different perspective, one that tells us to be open to the unexpected. 

The Torah, Judaism’s foundational text, instructs that every seventh day of the week should be a day of rejuvenating rest. In a concentric circle of time, the Torah further instructs that every seventh year should be a year of reset, recalibration, and release. In Exodus 23:10-11, it is written: “six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield and the seventh you shall let it rest and lay fallow.” This shmita year has simple but profound instructions: let the land lie fallow, release people from their acquired debts, and see what emerges when we take time to learn new things. In Deuteronomy, the Torah further teaches that abundance follows this release. 

At first glance, it seems a shmita year might be a year of refrain, framed by what we do not do. However, the invitation is actually to consider what we can do and can learn when we recalibrate how we approach our actions and commitments. A spiritual reset might make space for more na’aseh v’nishma, the Jewish value of action and learning, which can spur generative growth as we move toward the future.

In its traditional form, a distinct tenet of shmita is leaving fields uncultivated and unplanned so we can notice what might volunteer itself in that time. In an agricultural sense, a volunteer is a plant that grows without the gardener’s intention. Most often volunteers bloom from seeds dropped organically or by animals that leave behind the remnants of a garden forage. They are either nuisances or surprising gifts, depending on your attitude. In a shmita year, we depend on such volunteers — we need the unexpected and unplanned to flourish in the spaces that we decide not to control or cultivate. 

Observing shmita in the 21st century can be a challenge. Most of us do not have fields that we let lie fallow, nor do we possess the power to eliminate major areas of burden that may have fallen upon our neighbors. Yet, there are opportunities to reflect on our spheres of influence, new ways to connect with those we may live in proximity to but not really know, and daily needs that, if met, can relieve momentary burdens that may allow someone a bit of respite during a period of real challenge. There are ample opportunities to approach the year from a place of inquiry and curiosity: How can I reconsider my actions and practices in order to engrain the reminder that there is a greater purpose to the world, especially if we look through a lens of Jewish values and spiritual potential?

The Torah promises us that even if we let go of our plans and expectations, release our desire to be in control, and create our experiences, we will have more than enough to sustain us, as counterintuitive as that may seem. In the last year, when so much changed and we could not gather and serve in traditional ways, Repair the World did not shy away from its mission and goals, but instead doubled down and reimagined what Jewish service could look like through our Serve the Moment initiative, Repair’s pandemic response initiative, that in turn opened Jaqob’s eyes to the ways oppression manifests in the community. 

Rethinking our programming allowed us space for new ideas and new ways of serving — including virtual and smaller group gatherings, such as the Cleveland Vaccine Appointment Network, powered by Cleveland Repair, where young adults ensured those without access to the internet or lacking technology skills could still secure COVID vaccine appointments. 

Repair has learned and grown as an organization in the last year, transitioning from an extraordinary moment to a powerful movement, culminating in a new Service Era in which service is a cornerstone of Jewish life at every age and every stage. 

This September, as the Jewish community enters the first month of the year 5782, Repair will provide you with opportunities to reflect on and deepen your connection with service and community. In the spirit of Repair’s upcoming Sukkot service campaign, you can start by downloading Shelter of Peace, a guide to showing up for our unhoused neighbors and taking responsibility for housing insecurity.

As an organization and individuals, we look forward to spending the coming year reflecting and innovating in the continued pursuit of new perspective and growth. And we encourage you to do the same — to observe shmita by letting go of a limited view of service and instead being open to the learning and growth that volunteers itself when you become present for others. Meet unexpected opportunities and new connections with curiosity. Consider how both your actions and insights may take root and become generative and fruitful well beyond this year. How will you move into this year with open eyes, and how will you steward and cultivate what you learn in the years to follow? 

The shmita year imagines a recalibration and reset necessary for the land, for ourselves, and for our communities to sustain themselves for the long haul. We invite you to serve with us this year and embody the Jewish value of action and learning, so that together we may repair the world incrementally, in ways that can be sustained over time.

*Xe/xem/xyr is a set of gender-neutral pronouns.




Hillel and Repair The World Launch 2021-2022 Campus Corps Program

August 30, 2021

Repair the World Contact:  Jason Edelstein | 510-239-1102
Hillel Contact: Leilah Mooney Joseph | 202-449-6547

Hillel and Repair The World Launch 2021-2022 Campus Corps Program
150 Student Corps Members Around the World Will Engage Their Peers in Service, Civic Engagement and Social Justice Work 

New York, NY — Repair the World and Hillel International today announced the Repair Campus Corps Program, which will support 150 college student Corps Members around the world to engage their peers in service, civic engagement, Jewish learning, and social justice work during the 2021-2022 school year. The program will run from September 2021 to May 2022. Hillels applied in August 2021 to participate in the program and can request up to four student interns per campus.

During the onset of the global pandemic, Repair the World significantly expanded its reach and national partnerships through launching the Serve The Moment Service Corps (now Repair the World Service Corps) and the Jewish Service Alliance, which collectively brought together 40+ organizations driving national service and mobilizing tens of thousands of Jewish Young adults in 100,000 acts of meaningful service and learning grounded in Jewish values.

In year one, in partnership with Hillel International, 100 Campus Corps Members from 96 local Hillels recruited 4,843 peers in service, catalyzing 5,312 acts of service and learning and contributing 26,299 hours of service to partner organizations.

“We continue to be motivated and inspired by the overwhelming response to our service corps programs. Hillel students are truly making a difference throughout the world with their dedication to service and commitment to social change,” said Hillel President and CEO Adam Lehman. “We are excited for this new year that brings about important opportunities to continue combatting the injustices and disparities prevalent in our country and beyond.”

Student Cohort Experience
Student Corps Members will participate in a full-year cohort experience run by Hillel International, with support from Repair the World. Students will get their choice of six  issue area-based education cohorts in Fall 2021.

Starting in October 2021, each cohort will participate in a four-part virtual educational series related to their issue area, meeting monthly through January. The education series will introduce the topic and its connection to Jewish values and help students create tangible next steps to participate in service around this issue.  The issue areas include:

  • Environmental Justice

  • Disability Inclusion/Justice

  • Racial Justice

  • Food Justice

  • Housing Justice

  • Education Justice

“We look forward to seeing the meaningful change resulting from our student corps members as the success and overwhelming response to this program is proof positive that Jewish college students are eager to create change by living out their Jewish values,” concluded Cindy Greenberg, President and CEO of Repair the World. “The last 18 months have presented all of us with countless unanticipated challenges that were met by young people with hope, perseverance and dedication. As we continue to navigate this new school and programmatic year, we are filled with hope and are excited to engage even more students to serve their communities and address urgent local needs and inequity.”


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About Hillel International

Founded in 1923, Hillel has been enriching the lives of Jewish students for more than 90 years. Today, Hillel International is a global organization that welcomes students of all backgrounds and fosters an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. Hillel is dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. As the largest Jewish student organization in the world, Hillel builds connections with emerging adults at more than 550 colleges and universities, and inspires them to direct their own path.

About Repair the World

Repair the World mobilizes Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, igniting a lifelong commitment to service. We believe service in support of social change is vital to a flourishing Jewish community and an inspired Jewish life. By 2030, Repair will inspire and catalyze one million acts of service towards repairing the world.

Giving Jewishly?

“Believe it or not,” my friend said, “2020 was our organization’s greatest year for giving in our entire history.” As the Executive Director of Repair the World NYC,  I spend a lot of time talking about fundraising. This was the fourth time in a week that I had heard some variation of this sentence. Across the country, donors have stepped up again and again since the start of the pandemic. In this time of immeasurable loss, this time in which the needs have been so great from every single angle, people have felt more compelled to give than ever before. 

When I began the Hadar Jewish Wisdom Fellowship’s Executive Cohort on Power and Money this summer, these realities were top of mind for me. What exactly is behind this momentum, this commitment, this communal response that we are seeing right now? How are people choosing where they give, why, and how much? And, perhaps the biggest question, when are they choosing to give, and when will they choose to stop?

In Deuteronomy 15:4, we read that if there is a “needy person” among us we are to “open [our] hand and lend [that which is] sufficient for whatever they need.” On first reading, this seems right. We should respond when people need help, and we should give differently according to the needs of the person in front of us.  Equity and equality are not the same.  To end food  insecurity – which is defined as lacking access to enough healthy and culturally appropriate food – it is not enough to simply give someone food; we must ensure that it is food that will sustain them and that they are able to eat. Not easy, but a simple enough concept.

During our cohort time, though, we were presented with texts that complicate that concept, and wrestled with the much larger questions: when has one given enough, and who gets to decide that?  In Bavli Ketubot 67b, the rabbis argue about whether it is sufficient to simply support someone enough that they can survive, whether they must be supported enough that they live as they were used to, or whether they must support someone enough to make them wealthy. We discussed this for some time, and many are of the belief that it is never one’s responsibility to give so much that a person in need has “even a horse upon which to ride and a servant to run in front of them.”  We went on to read about the ills that befall someone who asks for what can be considered excessive: wine, fatty meat, etc., which might lead one to believe that this assessment is correct.

However, the text that resonated most for me was this: 

Rabbi Ḥanina knew a certain pauper and was accustomed to send to him four dinars on every Shabbat eve. One day he sent it in the hand of his wife. She came back home and said to him: The man does not need charity…. Rabbi Ḥanina said: This is what Rabbi Elazar said: Come and let us appreciate the swindlers because were it not for them, we would be sinning every day in failing to properly support the truly poor (Bavli Ketubot 67b)

A few days ago my five year old daughter and I walked past someone asking for money on the street. I gave my daughter money to share with them. I heard another parent nearby tell their child that they would not give them money because “they’ll just use it on booze.” In our family we give whenever we have the chance, no matter what we think the person in front of us might do with the money. My husband and I believe that it’s not up to us to decide what is most important in someone’s time of greatest need, so we are raising our children to give people the dignity of that choice. It is true that this means sometimes a person chooses alcohol over food, cigarettes over water, drugs over a bed. For many, those are examples of excess one may not want to support with their money. For us, this goes back to the Deuteronomy text I began with. Who gets to decide what their needs are, and what is sufficient to fulfill those needs? There is power in choices about how we give our money, and these texts offer some Jewish wisdom on how you might choose to use that power.

While we are unlikely to be giving such that we help people have horses and servants, in the United States today we make choices about how to give all the time. As I am writing this, my family is deciding how to give to people impacted by extreme loss in Haiti and Afghanistan this summer of 2021. There has been a lot written about how to choose where to give in times of crisis over the years: should we give to large organizations who we know pay their executive staff a lot of money, but are well connected on the ground? Should we give to small organizations, even without clarity that the money will even get into the places experiencing the deepest need? If we only have so many dollars, is it best to choose one issue or split the money between them? 

As we move into the fall of 2021 and continue living amidst crisis, I am eager to see how people’s giving may change or grow. Perhaps you, reader, have been one of those people who gave more than usual this last year. How did you choose to give? When will you know that it’s been enough? How might you use these texts from Deuteronomy and the Bavli Ketubot to guide you? 

Rachel Figurasmith (she/her) is the Executive Director of Repair the World NYC. 

Maximizing the Impact of Volunteering

Stephanie Wu Winter spent many years working in the financial services sector but she always had a longing to use her skills and talents to make a meaningful difference in the lives of her community members. “Growing up, my family greatly valued serving, uplifting, and engaging with their community. I volunteered often as a kid and it’s something that has always been a significant part of my life,” said Stephanie. Wanting to commit to her value of strengthening her community and fulfilling her passion of ensuring that families and children are without basic needs, Stephanie began working at Hunger Free America (HFA) as the Director of Strategic Volunteer Initiatives four years ago. 

Hunger Free America is a service partner of Repair the World Brooklyn where Repair the World fellows and volunteers have helped to uplift programs needed to end domestic hunger and ensure that all Americans have sufficient access to nutritious food by serving and advocating for them. “Every child in America deserves proper nutrition and now I’ve dedicated myself to making sure that happens. I also want to help volunteers recognize the magnitude of the impact their service makes in the lives of their neighbors.”

When reflecting on key moments of her past four years at HFA, Stephanie often goes back to the year spent working alongside Repair the World fellow, Riki Robinson, who served in 2018-2019. As a food justice fellow, Riki worked to ensure urban farms and food pantries in Brooklyn continued to thrive and provide nutritional food to local communities. “Being able to witness Riki and other fellows grow and learn in this space while meeting the vital needs of the community was incredible. When I think of the times I see people maximizing their impact in meaningful ways, I think about the fellows from Repair.” Riki is now the Program Manager at the Jews of Color Initiative’s New York Hub.

“I never underestimate the role that volunteers play in the community and also how valuable the voices of those we serve are. While in this space I’ve seen people be so candid about expressing what the true needs are and sharing their expertise based on their experiences,” said Stephanie. “It’s been truly powerful to be more intentional about the work and how we serve. As I’ve entered this space full time I see my values in action every day. Through working with fellows, volunteers, and our staff the intersections of social justice and volunteerism makes it very clear that we can’t address one community issue without addressing others.”

A Perspective on Social Justice Changed through Service

A reflection written by Jack, Repair the World NYC Teen Service Corps Member.

What is social justice? On paper, it means to enact justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. In reality, social justice is significantly more complex than that. As we all know, the growing popularity of social media has affected our lives drastically, but in my opinion, it has affected our perception of social justice the most. Due to social media, the term “social justice” and the ideas it preaches have been politicized, and the true message behind social justice: to serve one’s community, has been clouded by infographics and Twitter rants. As such, my perception of social justice before entering this program was not the most positive, since 99% of my knowledge of the topic came from social media. I saw it more as a dividing force than a uniting one. I would see people post infographics about issues ranging from racial justice, to food justice, as well as links where you could donate to those causes. As much as posting these thing were good steps towards enacting social change, I began to wonder how much impact they really had. Most infographics are simplified at best, and outright false at worst. For a long time, social justice seemed political, frustrating, and disunifying to me. 

Over the last few months in this program, this view has significantly changed. Participating in activities like volunteering at Bushwick City Farm and phone banking with Hunger Free America, I have realized that social justice is more than just posting and arguing on social media. Social Justice requires some sort of personal sacrifice. Clicking a few buttons on my phone to post an infographic was certainly not as eye opening as turning compost for two hours by myself at the farm, and although I would rather not spend my weekend turning compost, for one of the first times in my life I actually felt that I was truly helping a cause. Not just spreading information about it, but actually taking action. In my opinion, action is one of the core pillars of social justice. A phrase I’m sure many people here are familiar with is: It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either.” Finishing the work requires direct action, or else it will never get done. That is the lesson I’ve learned from this program. 


Growth on Uncertain Ground

Reflecting on my semester with the community of Repair the World Teen Service Corps, I chose to create a zine! This mini-zine, titled Growth on Uncertain Ground, focuses on how service and learning create community, even in times of distance or conflict. Throughout this semester, my perspective has evolved and expanded. I wanted to express that feeling and viewpoint through this zine. I am excited to take what I have learned and use it to continue serving my community. 

— Eliza Baron-Singer


















From Sharing an Office to a Lasting Partnership

Last year, Marissa Fogal embarked on a journey to work within spaces that were aligned with her Jewish values. “As a Jewish person, the value of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, was presented to me as my purpose in life. It’s a value that is both so personal but also a value of the community,” said Marissa. Wanting to fulfill her passion for growing food and dedicate her work towards strengthening her Jewish values, Marissa found what she was longing for at 412 Food Rescue in Pittsburgh. Now, the Vice President of Food Rescue Operations at 412 Food Rescue, Marissa has been a key connection to Repair the World’s partnership with the organization.

412 Food Rescue has been a service partner of Repair the World Pittsburgh for 7 years. They work with food retailers to prevent surplus food from going to waste. A relationship that grew out from sharing office spaces several years ago, Repair the World Pittsburgh and 412 Food Rescue were a perfect match. With a shared mission to provide vital resources to community members in the Pittsburgh area, this partnership has continued to evolve. 412 Food Rescue has provided a space for Repair the World fellows to grow and learn about food insecurity in Pittsburgh and ways to combat it. Repair the World continues to provide a thriving volunteer network to amplify the work 412 Food Rescue is doing in the community.

“Fellows are dedicating their time to serving their community with Repair the World and are also choosing to serve with and alongside countless service organizations that are directly providing resources to community members,” said Marissa. “Something I believe makes the fellowship unlike any other is the entrepreneurial spirit that is incorporated into serving. I’ve witnessed our Repair the World fellows really grow and learn key professional skills at 412 while engaging in Jewish learning, connecting with volunteers, and providing vital resources to the people of Pittsburgh.”

This past year was a time when many service organizations were forced to adapt and find new ways to reach their communities while making their services accessible. “Because of the pandemic we have had to shift and make changes to many of our programs in some hard but really cool ways. While stricter COVID-19 restrictions were in place, our fellows were unable to cook meals to be distributed throughout the community. Instead they created TikTok videos and other cool social media content about food waste reduction and cooking education which had a lasting impact on moving this work forward,” said Marissa. 

One year into working at 412 Marissa sees her values in action everyday. “Seeing my values lived out is centered around my being surrounded by people who have deeply committed themselves to serving others. I saw my values as I witnessed the fellows this past year use their skills to strengthen our work and I see them lived out with every volunteer I interact with.”

Meet Repair the World’s Newest Board Members

Repair the World is excited to welcome Majestic Lane (he/him), Kathy Reich (she/her), and David Rittberg (he/him) as its newest national Board of Directors members as we continue to grow and expand our reach. This past year has been one of immense change and growth with many joining us to ‘Serve the Moment’ responding to the needs of our communities and pursuing justice. With the leadership of our Board of Directors and as we transition from a moment to a movement, we’re entering a transformed ‘Service Era’, boldly positioning ourselves to build additional strategic opportunities and further centering service as key to building a thriving Jewish life while amplifying service across our communities. 

These dynamic individuals bring with them a wealth of expertise in national service, Jewish engagement, philanthropy, community building, and social justice through a Jewish lens. They share a passion for mobilizing Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world while representing diverse backgrounds. Learn more about them and what motivates them to serve their communities. To see a list of all our current Board members click here.

Majestic Lane (he/him/his)
Deputy Chief of Staff & Chief Equity Officer, City of Pittsburgh

Majestic Lane serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Equity Officer for Mayor William Peduto. As Chief Equity Officer and Deputy Chief of Staff, Majestic leads the Peduto administration’s focus on opportunity for all residents of the City of Pittsburgh concerning education, workforce development, safe & healthy communities, and digital inclusion. Additionally, he leads the administration’s engagement with national organizations regarding equity and inclusion strategies. Prior to serving as Deputy Chief of Staff, Majestic was the Deputy Chief of Neighborhood Empowerment where he coordinated the administration’s neighborhood equity efforts through community driven development and affordable housing initiatives. Majestic attended the University of Pittsburgh and lives in North Point Breeze.

What motivates you to serve? Why are you in this work?
I’m motivated by the importance of serving my community as well as the opportunity to grow while meeting the needs of those who need vital resources.

What’s your most memorable volunteering/service-related experience?
Volunteering to teach tennis to children from my neighborhood when I was a young adult.

What’s something completely unrelated to Repair that people should ask you about?
My love of music!!

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A lawyer!

Kathy Reich (she/her/hers)
Director, BUILD, Ford Foundation

Kathy Reich leads the Ford Foundation’s BUILD initiative in the United States and in the foundation’s 10 global regions. BUILD is a 10-year, $2 billion initiative to strengthen key institutions around the world that fight inequality. Kathy manages a team of 11 people, guiding Ford’s efforts to support the vitality and effectiveness of institutions and networks that serve as pillars of broader social movements.

Before joining Ford in 2016, Kathy worked for 15 years at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, most recently as organizational effectiveness and philanthropy director, where she led a cross-cutting program to help grantees around the world strengthen their strategy, leadership and impact. Prior to that, she was policy director of a non-profit, served as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill, and worked for state and local elected officials in California.

Kathy is a Senior Fellow of the Schusterman Foundation, and has served on several non-profit boards. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is a lifelong Californian, although she currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with her spouse, two teenage children, one highly opinionated cat, and one extremely cuddly dog.

What motivates you to serve? Why are you in this work?
I’m inspired to serve by my Jewish faith and values, and by my parents, who raised me to believe in justice for all people. I am particularly excited to work with organizations like Repair the World that enable people to live their Jewish values in service of Jews and non-Jews alike. 

What’s your most memorable volunteering/service-related experience?
I’ve had so many remarkable service experiences, but my favorite ones are probably among my earliest ones—making sandwiches with my mom for a weekly lunch program she organized for homeless people, doing armchair aerobics with women at a local assisted living facility, and teaching kids to read at a Title I elementary school. Service was a big part of my life at home and at school, and my favorite experiences were ones where I could form personal bonds with other people. 

What’s something completely unrelated to Repair that people should ask you about?
Ask me about travel—in pre-pandemic days I traveled extensively for work, especially to Africa and Latin America, and I hope to return to that soon! 

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That is a hard question, because food is one of my greatest joys in life. I think I’d have to say, really expensive sushi. Or maybe hot fudge sundaes with lots of whipped cream. Or on some days, maybe just salt and vinegar potato chips….do I really have to pick just one?

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a famous novelist. Or an actress in musical theater on Broadway. But I gave up on the latter when I found out I’d need dance lessons. 

David Rittberg (he/him/his)
Senior Director, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies

David serves as Senior Director for U.S. Jewish Grantmaking at Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, where he advises leadership on how to best leverage their investments in existing organizations and take new initiatives to scale. While some may know him for his semi-pro guitar skills, David’s true calling card is his hands-on approach to his philanthropic portfolio: David spends much of his time working directly with organization staff and board members to help build their team’s capacity, develop a long-term strategy and grow as integral players in common ecosystems.

Prior to arriving at Schusterman, David’s career took him across the country, from his hometown of Binghamton to streetwise Brooklyn, misty San Francisco and the hidden gem that is Tucson, AZ. Notably, David served as Executive Director at the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU, Hillel at New York University, and, in 2011, received NYU’s Hallmark Award for outstanding university administrators. David was also part of the Hillel staff at The University of Arizona and Stanford.

David received his BS in Marketing from the Smeal College of Business Administration at Penn State University, and an Executive MPA from NYU Wagner.

What motivates you to serve? Why are you in this work?
A deep sense of obligation, responsibility, and commitment to community, inspired by my family’s heroic story.

What’s your most memorable volunteering/service-related experience?
The many trips I took and facilitated to the Gulf Coast in the years after Hurricane Katrina.  It introduced me to intensive service while meeting Americans from all over the country.

What’s something completely unrelated to Repair that people should ask you about?
Acoustic guitars!

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Rice and Beans

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Either playing third base for the New York Yankees, or a transcendent rock star. I still want to be those things!

Repair the World Announces Expansion to Align with Program Priorities, Organizational Growth, and Unprecedented Opportunities for Jewish Service Movement


July 1, 2021
Contact:  Jason Edelstein

Repair the World Announces Expansion to Align with Program Priorities, Organizational Growth, and Unprecedented Opportunities for Jewish Service Movement

New York – Repair the World, a Jewish non-profit that mobilizes Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, igniting a lifelong commitment to service, today announced program priorities for the coming year, along with realignment and growth of its professional team reflecting the expansion and additional strategic opportunities. A recent $7 million gift from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett to Repair the World will help grow its work to an unprecedented scale as many American Jews say that working for justice and equality is essential to being Jewish. 

In the wake of the pandemic, volunteers stepped up boldly to serve their communities in incredibly meaningful ways. As we enter this moment following the pandemic, we believe the Jewish community is entering a transformed ‘Service Era’ where they are building on the support and continued strengthening of their communities demonstrated last year by so many,” said Cindy Greenberg, President and CEO of Repair the World. “We are excited that Repair’s expansion can further build thriving Jewish life and meaningful social change through service infused with Jewish values and learning.”

Repair the World reached over 17,000 volunteers who contributed over 100,000 hours of service and learning to nonprofit partners across the country between August 2020-April 2021, thanks in part to last year’s launch of Serve the Moment powered by Repair the World in partnership with 44 coalition organizations. Repair is now positioned to expand these and other meaningful service efforts. Key pieces of the alignment to the organizational growth and adaptive strategy include: 

  • Mobilizing through direct programming 
    • Building a local presence in the 20 communities (currently operating in 13 communities) with the largest population of Jewish young adults
    • Curating a menu of program options for local communities (full-time Fellowship, part-time Service Corps, episodic service)
  • Catalyzing through national partnerships & field activation
    • Strengthening customized partnerships with the largest national Jewish engagement organizations to engage their participants in meaningful service and Jewish learning
  • Inspiring through national service campaigns
    • Facilitating issue-area based campaigns grounded in Jewish wisdom to promote and catalyze service 
    • Digitally engaging with audiences to activate the field to lead to acts of service and learning

Repair the World will invest in its Jewish educational strategy by further centering Jewish learning in all of its service opportunities. Repair the World will also continue to prioritize its racial justice and equity commitments, rooted in solidarity and responsibility to amplify the voices of marginalized communities and offer support to those communities.

To help achieve these new goals and expanded program offerings, Repair re-aligned its current senior strategic executive team to include:

  • President & CEO | Cindy Greenberg (she/her) – Will continue as President & CEO of Repair; Cindy was the founding executive director of Repair’s NYC program. Previously, she was the executive director of NYU’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life. 
  • Chief Strategy Officer | Kate O’Bannon (she/her) – Has led Repair’s growth over the last few years and most recently served as senior director of strategy. Prior to joining Repair, Kate worked at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies. 
  • Chief Program Officer | Jordan Fruchtman (he/him) – Most recently senior director of Jewish Service Alliance and helped launch Serve the Moment; prior to joining Repair, Jordan served as the Chief Program Officer for Moishe House. 
  • Senior Director of Finance | Neeraj Nagpal (he/him) – Has 15 years of experience leading complex finance functions for nonprofits, including Habitat for Humanity, NEO Philanthropy, and Amnesty International. 
  • Senior Director of Jewish Education | Rabbi Jessy Dressin (she/her) – Worked as a community rabbi in Baltimore, MD, for ten years, most recently as Baltimore Repair’s executive director; received a Covenant Foundation 2020 Pomegranate Award and was named as one of The Forward’s “Most Inspiring Rabbis” in 2016. 
  • Senior Director of Mobilize | Zack Block (he/him) – Worked many years  for large public accounting firms and as a long-time board member of the Hillel JUC in Pittsburgh, Zack was instrumental in building and sustaining J’Burgh, Pittsburgh’s social and professional network for Jewish graduate students and young professionals. He now leads the mobilization strategies at Repair the World. 
  • Senior Director of Philanthropy | Wendy Rhein (she/her) – Was chief of staff of world food program, and previously was with UNICEF and Points of Light; has been development consultant for the last two years with Repair and is now joining the team full time.

Repair the World also seeks to add the role of Chief Operating Officer and is looking to fill the existing role of Senior Racial Justice Advisor.

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Repair the World mobilizes Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, igniting a lifelong commitment to service. We believe service in support of social change is vital to a flourishing Jewish community and an inspired Jewish life. By 2030, Repair will inspire and catalyze one million acts of service towards repairing the world.

What It’s Like to Get Millions of Dollars From MacKenzie Scott

This article originally appeared in TIME on June 17th, 2021. 

“When I got the call, I literally just lost my breath,” says Cindy Greenberg, president and CEO of Repair the World, a faith-based organization that promotes local community service among Jewish youth, to which Scott gave $7 million in mid-June. “As [Scott’s representative] told me the amount of the gift, I felt all the breath come out of me. And when she had finished speaking, I said, ‘Can you please repeat that?’ It was such incredible news, I felt like I had to hear it a second time.”

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