Repair the World’s Racial and Economic Justice Shabbat Dinner

This originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on January 20, 2020.

“The importance of this event was to understand the systemic roots of racial and economic injustices that have permeated our city,” said Savannah Parson, a senior fellow for Repair the World Pittsburgh. “We are proud to highlight the work that Open Hand Ministries, Circles Greater Pittsburgh and Cocoapreneur PGH are doing every day to eradicate these injustices.”

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Turn the Tables on Jews, Allyship, and Civil Rights

“Throughout MLK Weekend, Repair the World is offering service and learning opportunities to support local organizations across Detroit. This guide, used at our Detroit Shabbat Dinner on January 17, 2020, serves as a starting point, framing the service we will do and asking us to reflect on the role of Jews in the struggle for racial justice. Before we begin the work of tikkun olam, we must sit down, together, and reckon with these questions.”

Click Here to View the Guide

Press Release: #ActNow and Serve with Others in Chicago Over MLK Weekend

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jason Edelstein, 510-239-1102

Local organizations partner to offer service and learning experiences throughout Chicagoland

Chicago, IL – Upcoming opportunities abound in Chicago for those looking to connect with and engage in service in celebration of MLK Weekend. In partnership with Silverstein Base Hillel, Mishkan Chicago, OneTable, Jewish United Fund (JUF), and many other partners, Repair the World Chicago is offering an array of experiences to address and highlight pressing local needs—including civic Shabbat dinners, expert talks on racial and economic justice, and volunteer opportunities—as part of its national #ActNow campaign.

“We’ve been on the ground in Chicago for about six-months building relationships with the people and organizations who best know this community and its needs,” says Melissa Schwarz, Program Coordinator for Repair the World Chicago. “We want to support and amplify our partners’ ongoing efforts to address local needs, and the dinners, talks, and service this MLK weekend show how important it is to develop these types of local relationships.”

On Friday, January 17, OneTable, JUF, and numerous other partners will kick off MLK weekend across Chicagoland with 10 simultaneous civic Shabbat dinners, bringing service and Jewish values to the Shabbat dinner table. These Shabbat dinners will foster conversation among young adults seeking meaningful dialogue about contemporary civil rights and social justice issues. Framing the conversation with Jewish values, the dinners will be grassroots-driven, intimate dining experiences that will inspire action. 

On MLK Day, Monday, January 20th, people can join Chicago Repair, Mishkan ChicagoJCUAAvodah, and Silverstein Base Hillel: Lincoln Park for the fourth annual MLK dinner and discussion. Tonika Lewis Johnson, a visual artist/ photographer from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, will discuss urban segregation and the nuance and richness of the black community. In addition, volunteers can play games and engage in activities for children at the Northwestern Settlement on the morning of MLK Day, organized by JUF’s Young Leadership Division.

“We want people to be inspired to act and to create change,” adds Schwarz. “We honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s enduring legacy and lifelong commitment to equity, by learning about the needs of and serving in solidarity with our neighbors.” 

Repair the World’s resources and facilitation guides related to Martin Luther King, Jr. and racial justice are available at go.werepair.org/mlk-day, as are listings of additional service opportunities nationally. 

Repair the World’s peer-to-peer model of engagement through service grounded in Jewish values is on the ground in nine different communities today. Repair works closely with local nonprofits to address urgent community needs, including food justice, education justice, criminal justice reform, housing needs, racial equity, and more. 

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U.S. Immigration Policy Sparks Action in Michigan

This originally appeared in The Jewish News on January 16, 2020. 

Sarah Allyn, executive director of Repair the World Detroit, a Jewish organization that encourages volunteer service, explains how Repair tries to help people who directly experience the effects of anti-immigrant policies. “At Repair the World, we work closely with communities experiencing the immediate and terrifying impact of our current climate,” she says. “While there are many ways to take action as a Jewish community, Repair believes meaningful service, combined with learning and self-reflection, promotes action and change. “By serving alongside impacted communities, we listen, learn and build relationships to truly understand what people need and how we might best support them.”

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Repair the World Leads MLK Day of Service

This originally appeared in Atlanta Jewish Times on January 15, 2020.

“A national organization that mobilizes Jews to volunteer is coordinating the Atlanta Jewish community’s Day of Service Jan. 20 on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

This year’s MLK Day of Service in honor of the civil rights leader is being coordinated by Repair the World, which launched its eighth community site in Atlanta in 2018.”

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South Florida’s Jewish Community to Celebrate MLK’s Legacy

This originally appeared in the South Florida Sun Sentinel on January 10, 2020.

“Janu Mendel, Repair the World Miami’s executive director, said regarding these service opportunities, “For me, me it’s really building on the legacy of the relationship that exists and has existed between the Jewish community and black community since the days of Martin Luther King.”

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Op-Ed | Service and Religion, or Service as Religion?

By Matthew Kaufman, 2019-20 Repair the World Brooklyn Fellow

While studying religion at Dickinson College, I often asked myself what characteristics are shared by all of the world’s faith traditions. A belief in the supernatural, perhaps? Sacred texts and elaborate ceremonies? The so-called “Golden Rule”? 

Although those are perfectly reasonable answers, I believe each one of them comes up short. Yes, several faith traditions are grounded in beliefs that could be described as supernatural, but not Unitarian Universalism. Yes, anyone who has sat through a Sunday mass can speak of Catholicism’s love for ceremony, but Quaker worship has never struck me as overly ritualistic. As for the Golden Rule, try explaining its value to LaVeyan Satanists (one of their church’s Nine Satanic Statements is “Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates!”) 

If none of these religions have pomp, principle, or even the paranormal in common, then what do they all share? Simple: they all share a desire to address our spiritual, physical, and psychological needs. 

All of us—my tough-as-nails, New Yorker grandparents included—have these three needs. It is why Jesus speaks not only of his Heavenly Kingdom (a spiritual need) but of feeding the hungry (a physical need); it is why Lao Tzu speaks not only of loving others, but of being loved (a psychological need); and it is why Islam’s Five Pillars include alms (zakat), prayer (salat), and fasting (sawm). From the largest faith traditions to the smallest, such needs are elevated to an intertwined and sacred status, each one of them being essential to our collective wellbeing. 

Jews believe in addressing these three needs through halakha (Hebrew for Jewish law). At Repair the World, we focus specifically on addressing these three needs through service grounded in Jewish values, heritage, and tradition. 

As a national organization dedicated to elevating the place of service in American Jewish life–addressing issues such as food justice, legal justice, housing justice, and education justice (Phew!), Repair the World engages young adults to work closely with non-profits in nine cities to tackle pressing local needs.  Whether this engagement is in the form of Repair’s yearlong Fellowship or through weekly peer-to-peer volunteer opportunities, the service experiences address the spiritual, physical, and psychological needs that are vital to our neighbors and our communities. 

One non-profit and Repair partner that best exemplifies this service-based approach to needs is St. John’s Bread & Life. Located in Brooklyn, it provides thousands of New Yorkers with hot meals, social services, and pastoral counseling. Whether St. John’s clients require delicious food or film screenings with friends, their spiritual, physical, and psychological needs are all taken into account. Why? Because St. John’s staff recognizes human needs as an interconnected whole; you cannot address physical hunger without also addressing psychological hunger (e.g., desiring community) and spiritual hunger (e.g., desiring purpose). 

As a Repair Fellow who works at St. John’s several times per week, I believe its staff has, inadvertently or not, tapped into something vital: the idea that addressing our spiritual, physical, and psychological needs is not only essential to religion, but a religion unto itself. 

If our spiritual, physical, and psychological needs are at the core of every religion, then perhaps addressing them in various ways, including through service with others, should be understood as a common tenet linking many faith traditions together. After all, service work not only addresses, in part, those needs for non-profit clients; it also addresses those needs for non-profit staff and volunteers. There is spiritual satisfaction from teaching at Hebrew schools, physical satisfaction from building sheds at community gardens, and psychological satisfaction from making friends at food pantries (among other activities). 

By recruiting volunteers for non-profits such as St. John’s, by establishing Fellowships, and by hosting service events rooted in Jewish values year-round, Repair’s work harkens back to President Woodrow Wilson, who once wrote: “There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed.” 

Amen, brother!

 

Matthew Kaufman is a 2019-20 Repair the World Brooklyn Fellow. Their free time is spent listening to Van “The Man” Morrison, as well as conducting interfaith work with the various mosques, temples, churches, and synagogues in Crown Heights.

 

A Successful Tutoring Model

This originally appeared in the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. 

“As a Repair Fellow, I connect the Jewish community to volunteer opportunities. An example of my own meaningful volunteer service comes from tutoring with Mind Bubble, which offers free tutoring and workshops for students across the Atlanta area.”

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Tapping the Best Parts of My Judasim

This originally appeared in The Jewish Federation for North America on December 20, 2019.

“While on Birthright I became friends with people who had diverse experiences growing up Jewish. At Florida State Hillel I learned that Judaism is more than a religion of rituals and rules; it has the power to bond us as a community.”

“At the end of the day, I know being Jewish is like many things in life: you get out of it what you put into it. Being Jewish has been a catalyst and a connector to community, social justice, service to others, and a career I am passionate about. By choosing to put love, community, and goodness into the way I experience and express Judaism, I have gotten all of that back at an incalculable rate of return.”

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Opinion | The Importance of Radical Hospitality

This originally appeared in The Jewish Exponent on December 20, 2019.

“Every weekday Broad Street Ministry’s welcoming atmosphere provides support for all types of Philadelphians. This is the living embodiment of “radical hospitality.” Since becoming a Repair the World Fellow in Philadelphia, I have witnessed the impact of “radical hospitality” in our everyday lives through the actions of Broad Street Ministry.”

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