Volunteers come together for Everything But the Turkey program

This article originally appeared in The Florida Sun-Sentinel and Jewish Journal on November 22, 2017.

By Sergio Carmona

Local volunteers came together at different locations throughout Miami-Dade County to prepare bread, sweet potato casserole, stuffing and other treats for less fortunate people in the community during the Jewish Volunteer Center of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s ninth annual pre-Thanksgiving “Everything But the Turkey” program.

Lori Tabachnikoff, director for the Jewish Volunteer Center, thought the turnout this year was “amazing.”

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Why I am Inspired to Act Now

This post originally appeared in e-Jewish Philanthropy on November 22, 2017.

By Raffaella Glasser

After over two months as a Repair the World Fellow it still feels like yesterday that I sat at Capital Camps at the Repair the World national orientation surrounded by my fellow fellows. We each were embarking on our year of service with Repair the World. I was in awe of the people I was meeting – each fellow coming from across the country with an incredible set of skills, amazing experiences and drive for the work they were about to begin. I couldn’t help but wonder how I would fit into Repair. Would my skills and experiences prepare me for the year to come?

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Millie’s Ice Cream to roll out soft-serve with a new truck

This post originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on November 8, 2017.

By Melissa McCart

Repair the World with pies

This Thanksgiving, Laura Bratkowski — who trained at the French Culinary Institute and previously worked for Momofuku Milk Bar in New York — is baking pies for Repair the World Pittsburgh, a nonprofit outreach, in tandem with bakers providing gluten- and dairy-free pies from Gluuteny in Squirrel Hill. The goal is to sell 300 pumpkin, pecan and apple pies in traditional or modified versions by Nov. 17. Pies range from around $10 to $12 and can be ordered here, with pickup on Nov. 22.

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Justice Action Bulletin: Pray with Dreamers; food justice; sanctuary in Missouri

This post originally appeared on The National Catholic Reporter on November 7, 2017

By Maria Benevento

New York — Repair the World announced Nov. 1 that they are launching an “Act Now against Hunger” campaign to “help tackle food justice through Jewish values” during millennial-hosted Thanksgiving dinners this year.

The campaign provides resources and discussion guides focusing on the root causes and impact of food insecurity, the effects of food waste, and strategies for fostering “generous and open conversation at your table” in a “tense or divisive space.” The materials include questions, rituals, readings and activities intended to integrate education and reflection into a Thanksgiving dinner.

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A Pie Sale for Repair the World!

Laura Bratkowski is a Pittsburgh-based pastry chef who, until recently, had never heard of Repair the World. But last spring, the executive chef at Spoon (the restaurant where Bratowski works) was featured at one of Repair the World’s Chef Series dinners. Excited by what she saw, Bratowski offered to raise money for Repair the World by doing what she does best: baking.

This Thanksgiving, Bratkowski – who trained at the French Culinary Institute and previously worked for Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City – will prepare hundreds of pies to grace local Pittsburgh residents’ holiday tables. All of the proceeds from sales will go to Repair the World’s work. Bratkowski took a few minutes in between planning the pie sale (not to mention working full time as a pastry chef) to share what inspired her to support Repair the World’s work. Check it out and order your pies here!

This sounds like such a lovely project – how did it come about?
I first heard about Repair the World when the executive chef at my restaurant was featured at a dinner event they did in Pittsburgh. I went in expecting some fancy china and champagne dinner, but that wasn’t what I saw. Everything was served buffet style, and people had showed up to hear someone speak about food waste. It was very real, and it was clear that people were there for the right reasons – it inspired me.

In my line of work as a pastry chef, we work crazy hours and you don’t often hear a lot about people giving back to their community. I wanted to do something to help support Repair the World’s work. So I called them up and said, “Count me in for a Thanksgiving pie sale.”

What types of pies are you making?
We are selling all the classics – pumpkin, pecan, and apple. And one of my very good friends at Gluuteny has offered to make gluten free and dairy free versions of the pies. Our goal is to sell 300 pies in total. Spoon graciously offered to let me run the whole operation out of their kitchen, and I’m working with local grocers and 412 Food Rescue to get some donated ingredients.

How can people help out?
We have volunteers coming in along the process – anybody who wants to take part is more than welcome. If they want to come bake, great! If they want to help get the pies packaged and ready for pickup, wonderful. If they just want to purchase and eat pies, that works too!

Do you have a personal connection to Jewish tradition?
No, I was raised Catholic. But to me it doesn’t matter – Jewish, Catholic, whatever – as long as your heart is in the right place. Honestly, I just fell in love with the people at Repair the World. There is nothing fake about them – they are genuine and they deserve somebody to recognize the good that they do.

How can people order pies?
Repair the World set up an order form, so people can choose what they want. The cutoff day to order is November 17, and then we start baking on the 19th. Pie pickup will be on November 22 at Repair the World’s Pittsburgh location.

This Thanksgiving, “Act Now Against Hunger” with Repair the World

This post originally appeared on e-Jewish Philanthropy on October 31, 2017.

A central theme of millennial-hosted Thanksgiving dinners across the country this year is the simple notion that everyone deserves equitable access to healthy, fresh, affordable and culturally appropriate food. Repair the World urges its thousands of online followers to “Act Now Against Hunger,” offering DIY resources and discussion guides – available at weRepair.org/thanksgiving – to support meaningful conversations around food justice and food insecurity, including the connection between acting on these issues and Jewish values.

“Time and again young adults are choosing to build connections between how they live their lives and how they tackle our biggest social challenges,” says David Eisner, CEO of Repair the World. “They see only upside in bringing complex, uncomfortable and difficult conversations into their seasonal celebrations. For many of us, Thanksgiving with our family and friends is about discussing the meaning of gratitude and abundance. Act Now Against Hunger offers us the opportunity to make the scourge of food insecurity a big part of that discussion.”

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A Call for Young Jews To Do National Service

This post originally appeared in The Jewish Week on October 18, 2017

By E. Robert Goodkind

The concept of “dreams” is a recurring one in Jewish history — whether ancient or modern. Jacob had a dream about angels climbing a ladder to heaven. Herzl left us with the indelible message: “If you will it, it is no dream.”

I want to focus on a dream as well; two dreams actually, which are especially intertwined at this moment. One dream is for our country and one is for the Jewish service movement. The state of affairs in our nation — from social injustice, to divisive rhetoric, to fear of the “other” — presents an outstanding opportunity for the service movement and the Jewish one specifically, to mobilize people who want to create change.

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In these High Holidays, Act Now with Repair the World to Observe “A Different Kind of Service”

 

From the High Holidays through Next Passover, “Act Now” will Mobilize Young Jews to Address Urgent Needs around Education, Food and More

New York, NY — Repair the World, the largest Jewish service organization, today invited young adults to Act Now for a Different Kind of Service with the 2017 Jewish High Holidays chapter of its service and education campaign. Repair the World also announced that the year-long campaign, “Act Now,” will mobilize people to address immediate issues and engage in critical conversations at many other meaningful times throughout the Jewish year, including the upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving, MLK Day, and Purim, culminating with Passover in 2018.

“Jewish young adults today clamor more than ever for meaningful opportunities to meet urgent needs in their communities, especially at special times in the calendar when they feel called to act on their values,” said David Eisner, CEO of Repair the World. “Act Now will support these activists through providing opportunities to engage in meaningful service and community discussions, expressing our core Jewish values of striving for justice and the intrinsic value and dignity of every human life.”

Each element of Act Now will drive people to take action through service/volunteering, engaging in dialogue, skill building, and organizing their greater networks to get involved. Utilizing its highly collaborative model, Repair the World will work in partnership with local organizations around the country to help address pressing needs specific to each community, expanding the capacity of organizations and bringing a Jewish lens to the volunteering experience. Visit http://werepair.org/high-holidays/ to find or organize local service opportunities, as well as to pick up resources delving into the root causes of injustice, the guiding Jewish values, and discussion guides for tackling these difficult issues.

Repair the World also is releasing new materials, including:

Act Now (werepair.org/high-holidays) features a range of other guides and resources designed to help people take action, to facilitate challenging conversations, and to organize and participate in service opportunities around the country. Following the High Holidays, Act Now will continue to explore social justice through Thanksgiving, MLK Day, Purim, and Passover.

“Against an appalling drumbeat of tragedy and outrage, like we witnessed so recently in Charlottesville, young adults rightfully want to address the critical issues that threaten our communities,” adds Eisner. “For the next eight months, Act Now will offer a clarion call they can use to bring their friends, families and communities into making a difference through education, dialogue, and service.”

Holidays addressed for the first time in service campaigns by Repair the World this year are Thanksgiving—an opportunity to infuse a Jewish touchpoint into a secular holiday—and Purim, a holiday around which young adults have expressed increasing interest in engaging.

Act Now builds on Repair the World’s campaign last year urging participants to Act Now for Racial Justice, which engaged more than 14,000 participants in service experiences and/or peer-to-peer dinners and facilitated discussion.

Coming Home: Reflections on the Jewish Multiracial Network Retreat

The following post is by Rebekkah (Bekkah) Scharf, food justice fellow with Repair the World: Philadelphia. Bekkah identifies as a SF-born Hapa and Jewish Chinese-American; she attended the University of California: Santa Cruz, and is member of Kol Tzedek Synagogue in West Philadelphia.

 

“It is beautiful and rare to have Jewish spaces where I walk through the door and think: I belong.” Sabrina Sojourner is a Chazzan, chaplain, and attendee of the 18th annual Jewish Multiracial Network (JMN) family retreat on May 12th-15th.

I felt a sense of relief wash over me, filling every pore of my skin, every braciole in my lungs, and a lump in my throat, as her words resonated with me and every other person in the space. It was a breath of fresh air: I had found my people.

Finally.

In August I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Philadelphia, yet to find a space where Jews of Color and patrilineal Jews like myself, felt welcome. I had met Tamara Fish, the current president of JMN, at the Repair the World: Service Matters conference last year. According to Fish, JMN “is the only grassroots Jew of Color organizing group run by Jews of Color, whose demographics range from every permutation of family imaginable, both progressive and traditional from renewal, and everything in-between.” Several months later, she encouraged me to attend their family retreat.

I did not only feel welcome, but celebrated. I did not only feel comfortable, but like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I discovered something critically important missing in my life, something I had recently heard of, but never seen with my own eyes: a thriving, multi-ethnic, intergenerational Jewish community. And a space where I was allowed–no– empowered, to unravel, reflect, discuss, and most importantly, celebrate our shared experiences, with 70 other Jews of Color and white allies, of all ages.

davened, studied, and learned with young adults, parents, teens, kids, and entire families, Orthodox and progressive alike. African, African  American, Filipino American, Chinese American, and Latinx American Jews, LGBQ Jews, from six months to elderly, were in attendance. Traditional and progressive Shabbat services were held on Friday night and Saturday morning, where we counted the Omer and read from the Torah.

I hugged babies and played with the children, shared, listened, and met people who now feel like family. I exchanged stories and life experiences with other Jews of Color and their families, most of whom I had just met that weekend.

I grieved, raw, emotionally, and unexpectedly, with people who truly understood, grateful for every single moment, the Shehecheyanu playing in my head like a broken record.

As Rabbi Mira Rivera, the first Jew of Color at Jewish Theological Seminary to be ordained (two years ago), said afterwards: “The community we have here is every rabbi’s dream.” Rivera is a Chaplain Fellow at DOROT in New York City, and teaches Jews of Color, allies and co-conspirators through Harlem Hevruta.

When we gathered for Shabbat dinner, it indeed felt like a dream come true. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who looked like me, families that looked like mine, and children running around and playing together, like it were any other Shabbat. I had to remind myself that it was real, that I there as well, not an outsider looking in.

Together we sang a nigun as we lit the candles, parents held their children’s heads and said the brucha, and Rabbi Mira and Sabrina Sojourner raised the tallit over their heads and called for the children to gather underneath. We sang and celebrated the children, their beautiful faces. We celebrated each other, in their presence our unity, together, as a people. Our skin colors a spectrum, our families all shapes and sizes, our children, smiles, joy and unquestioned belonging.

It was overwhelmingly…normal.
It was perfect.
It was beautiful.

It was feeling that I could not put into words, until a song returned to my memory: Hinei ma tov uma naim shevet achim gam yachad.

“How good and pleasant it is for people to sit together in unity.” How precious was is to celebrate every single person in the room, exactly as they are, white, Black, AAPI,Latinx, and mixed. Orthodox and progressive, Jews by choice and by birth, patrilineal and matrilineal, single and coupled, families and individuals, young and old.

The babies, clueless to the miracle surrounding them, the children, who will not begin to comprehend the sacredness of this space, until they are years older.

And the teens, parents, and young adults like myself, who do know, savoring every note, laugh, smile, and clap, holding every moment tight in our hearts.

Knowing of the looks, actions, questioning, and isolation to come, subtle and unsubtle, as they always have, in which remembering this moment will keep us grounded in our very sanity.

And knowing that we are loved, belonged, and matter. And I know this because I was there, taking it in all at once, living in the moment.

And in that moment, I felt me.
I felt holy.
I felt everything.
I felt home.

 

A special shout-out to Chava Shervington, Tamara Fish, Sabrina Sojourner, Rabbi Mira Rivera, all of the JMN leaders, organizers and volunteers, and everyone else who made the 18th annual JMN retreat possible. Thank you for helping create such a meaningful and transformative experience for so many individuals and families seeking a brave, inclusive space, for the past 18 years. Thank you to the many individuals not mentioned here, who offered your listening ears and hearts, genuine selves, support, trust, friendship, and open arms.