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Reflecting On Service In BIPOC Majority Communities

When Megan stepped into the role of fellow at Repair the World Detroit in 2020, she was quickly impassioned to engage the BIPOC community in Detroit by creating spaces to connect and build community, through the power of service. “I wanted to reimagine how we engage with our BIPOC communities more meaningfully,” Megan said. 

Megan and Repair the World Detroit fellows began creating stories around volunteering that was being led by Black owned service partners and highlighting them on social media. Rather than just disseminating information, the fellows created dialogues by asking the community questions surrounding service and its connection to Detroit and its history. “Something that was important to us was to not only uplift the work we were doing but to create spaces for the community to express what service meant to them.” Megan used this passed MLK Day and Black History Month as a springboard for how she envisioned engaging with Detrioters in impactful service while uplifting Detroit’s history and the voices of BIPOC’s. 

“We are not in partnership with as many BIPOC led partner organizations as we’d like to be,” said Megan. Repair the World Detroit used this as an opportunity to uplift Black led organizations in Detroit that were serving their communities and creating space to build partnerships. “This was a way for us to use our resources and our audience to elevate these organizations doing amazing work,” Megan said.

The fellows also found ways to tap into Detroit’s rich Black history by highlighting Black led organizations that not only served their communities in the past, like Dunbar Hospital – the first Black hospital in Detroit, but Black led organizations that continue to serve their communities today, like Detroit Heals Detroit – an organization combating trauma amongst young Black people while dismantling oppressive systems for marginalized Detroit youth and a service partner of Repair the World Detroit. “Black history isn’t just a thing of the past but something currently being made today,” Megan said. Sarah Allyn, Executive Director of Repair the World Detroit says, “We honor the past by uplifting the present and investing in the future. Part of doing that is by uplifting these voices.”

Megan’s goal for the remainder of her fellowship is to continue working towards strengthening the connection between Repair the World and the communities being served. Megan said, “We’re really thinking about this moment as us planting the seeds for building strong relationships with the communities we serve in the coming years and bridging the gaps, allowing us to make a more meaningful impact.”

Megan is currently a social media fellow at Repair the World Detroit where she is expanding her skills in effectively progressing the betterment of marginalized communities as well as learning more about Judaism and the history of solidarity between the Jewish and Black community. She was a part of the multifaith internship cohort with the Truitt Center for Religious & Spiritual Life at her university. There she envisioned, planned, and executed educational and cultural events such as Diwali, Eid, and Holi that effectively reached more than 150+ students collectively. She has a passion for learning about different religious/worldviews and promoting civil dialogue on various topics. 

Because It’s Our Turn: Thoughts on NextGen Philanthropy

This article originally appeared on the Atlanta Jewish Foundation website on March 30th 2021. 

Arogeti also empowers the NextGen Legacy groups to be very specific about their personal priorities. “For example, tell your family, ‘I’m interested in environmental projects that lower carbon footprint. How can you support me in that?” Jonathan is a founding member of the Repair the World Advisory Council and makes his own gift, but he also asks his family to make a gift to amplify the commitment. “They do it because I asked them,” he says. “It’s tremendously empowering!”   

 

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Grist 50 2021

This article first appeared on Grist. 

A few years ago, Yoshi Silverstein began dreaming about a community center that could weave together the threads of his life — fitness and movement, his Chinese and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, a love of nature, and outdoor teaching and leadership. At the time, he was directing a fellowship within the burgeoning JOFEE movement — Jewish outdoor, food, and environmental education — but wanted to create something tangible and local.

 

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Passover Wish List

This article originally appeared on the Atlanta Jewish Foundation website. 

Repair the World Atlanta mobilizes Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, igniting a lifelong commitment to service. We support grassroots Atlanta organizations working toward housing, food, and education justice.

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Repair the World’s Haggadah Insert: Ten Plagues on Housing Injustice

This article originally appeared in Boulder Jewish News on March 26th, 2021. 

Each year on Passover, Jews and their communities gather around Seder tables and open the door for Elijah, a messenger of hope, as we retell the story of Exodus. This #Passover, join us to #ServeTheMoment and open the door to housing justice.

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Summer 2021 Repair the World Teen Service Corps

Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens & Long Island Cohorts
July 12- August 20

Do you know a rising 9th-12th grader in Manhattan/Brooklyn/Queens/Long Island who wants to volunteer, make new friends and learn about justice this summer? Earn up to 80 community service hours while making a difference! The Teen Service Corps is a 6 week service learning program with 25 person cohorts in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. Throughout the program teens will learn about systemic injustice through a Jewish lens, hone leadership skills and volunteer in various neighborhoods to promote food and education justice, and combat social isolation. 

Volunteering will follow strict COVID safety compliance guidelines and may pivot to a virtual format. 

In-person service may include urban farming, volunteering at food pantries, canvassing for food benefits and packaging essential supplies for service partners. 

Virtual volunteering may include connecting with seniors experiencing social isolation, supporting youth in online camps & tutoring, phone banking for nutrition benefits and housing rights and supporting youth experiencing incarceration through responding to their creative writing.

July 12 – August 20

  • Tuesdays: Small group volunteering at service sites or independent virtual service (4-5 hours)
  • Wednesdays: Full group service project and learning (2-3 hours)
  • Thursdays:  Small group volunteering at service sites or independent virtual service (4-5 hours)

What Former Corps Members have to say!

“It was inspiring to be a part of a group of teens who truly seemed to care.”

“I loved that this program was educational but not in a stressful type of way like school is.”

“This program not only introduced me to the issues but it gave me an opportunity to personally make a difference.” 

“I feel a lot more proud to be a Jew right now, probably the proudest I have felt in my life.”

“When it ended, it felt kind of like camp was ending.”

Apply Here! Applications received on a rolling basis | Please email [email protected] with any questions.

‘We simply feel forgotten about:’ 9 Asian American Jews Speak

This article originally appeared in The Forward on March 20th, 2021.

In partnership with Rabbi Mira Rivera of Romemu in New York, N.Y., we’ve asked nine Asian American Jewish leaders to share their experiences in this painful time, as well as thoughts on how American Jews can and should offer support to the Asian American community. Their responses, which have been edited for length and clarity, are below.

 

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Serving the Moment in Chicago

I’ve always felt the most Jewish when I’m fighting for a more just world. A feminist research program with a local Chicago Jewish organization first taught me the word “intersectionality” and brought me back to a religion and culture that had felt so alienating and foreign in Hebrew school. When I marched in climate strikes, with Never Again Action, or for racial justice, I would usually bring a sign scrawled with some of my favorite Jewish quotes: “If not now, when?” or “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” I usually brought my shofar, too. And when I started learning more about my identity as a Bukharian Jew, one of my extended family members, knowing my political views, sent along a link for a Facebook group called “Progressive Bukharians” (it’s small but mighty). I am fiercely Jewish, and it is through this lens that I have been able to find my way to practice and exist.

I first joined Serve the Moment—a national service initiative powered by Repair the World with more than 40 other partner organizations—this summer as a Chicago Corps member working with Raise Your Hand, an education equity parent nonprofit organization. I loved it so much that I decided to continue through the fall semester, as well. Serve the Moment is everything that, to me, Judaism is. We sing Jewish music, meet Jewish people, learn about Jewish rituals, all while learning about the oppressive structure of capitalism and housing crises and immigration and injustice through a Jewish lens. Tikkun Olam is the framework through which I believe I have always lived my life, but I am now even more fiercely committed to that ideal: leaving the world better than how I entered.

Being able to work with Raise Your Hand was an absolutely incredible and personally meaningful experience (shoutout to Jianan and the whole team). I learned an immeasurable amount about education injustice in Chicago and beyond. I gained an inside look into community organizing and what goes into successfully pushing for certain policies to be implemented and building people power. Raise Your Hands is also on the frontlines of pandemic-specific advocacy regarding the reopening of schools, protections for teachers, and parent advocacy. Being able to take part in service is important and meaningful. But being able to do so this year, as part of larger COVID-19 responses, was even more so.

But what’s so great about Serve the Moment is that that work was complemented by a Jewish-specific analysis of that injustice with my Chicago cohort and the larger group. I could approach secular issues as my fully Jewish self, and use my Judaism as an asset in my service and organizing. Moving forward, I plan to continue organizing and service in general as a whole person committed to Tikkun Olam, my Judaism, and also injustice in the world at large. I credit Serve the Moment with helping me understand that the two are not in conflict with one another.

The world is a really scary and horrible place, but I receive my hope and energy to continue fighting from programs like Serve the Moment. I’m really thankful that it exists and that there are so many people around the country who are interested in this kind of work: its impact should not be minimized. 

Madison Hahamy is currently on a gap year from Yale University, where she is reporting for the New Haven Independent, interning for Lilith Magazine, and writing for the Yale Daily News. She is a proud Bukharian Jew and lover of her brother’s service dog, Viego. Madison served through Repair the World’s Serve the Moment initiative as one of 34 Service Corps Members who have served in Chicago since summer 2020.

Who is at the Table? Immigration and Refugee Justice in Pittsburgh

This article originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle on March 13th, 2021.

Join Repair the World for Who is at the Table? Immigration and Refugee Justice in Pittsburgh, a Shabbat Dinner unpacking and addressing Immigration Justice in Pittsburgh. Hear from local organizations working to fight for Immigration Justice and discuss how immigration connects to the Jewish holiday of Passover. Panelists include Gisele Fetterman, Aweys Mwaliya, Ben Gustchow, and Rachel Vinciguerra.

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Nonprofits stepping up to bolster COVID vaccination efforts

This article originally appeared in The Washington Post on March 5th, 2021.

Volunteers power many nonprofits’ efforts to support vaccine distribution. In Washington, D.C., the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center tapped students from the George Washington University chapter of the Jewish campus-life group, Hillel, to manage its work to assist older people in securing vaccination appointments.

The collaboration inspired Repair the World, a national Jewish relief organization, to launch similar efforts nationwide that will encourage young adults to volunteer to help those in need get shots. And the Washington project now collaborates with other local social-service nonprofits to help the homeless, refugees, and low-income people — not just older adults — access vaccines.

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