High Holiday and 9/11 Weekend of Service 2018

This article originally appeared on NY Blue Print on September 10, 2018.

This year, September 11th falls on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. Please join us in marking the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy and the beginning of the Jewish year by serving in solidarity with our community. There are opportunities for people of all ages throughout the week, including on 9/11, the afternoon of the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

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Repair the World Atlanta to Connect Young Adults With Opportunities for Meaningful and Authentic Service

For Immediate Release

Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Family & Career Services Atlanta, Hands On Atlanta, and others will Partner with Repair the World Atlanta to Offer Opportunities to Create Social Impact Locally Infused with Jewish Values

Atlanta, GA – Atlanta’s community of young adults soon will have new opportunities to address key social issues and urgent community needs through meaningful service with a Jewish lens through nationally renowned Repair the World’s new Atlanta hub.  Repair the World—the only organization devoted exclusively to engaging Jewish young adults in service—is partnering with Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Family & Careers Services, and Hands On Atlanta to help launch Repair the World Atlanta in fall 2018.

“We’re excited by the warm invitation and welcome we’ve from Atlanta’s powerful volunteer and nonprofit sectors, and the leading organizations of the Jewish community,” said David Eisner, President & CEO of Repair the World. “Atlanta is rich with organizations with whom Repair the World Atlanta is eager to partner so that we can galvanize thousands of young Jewish adults to expand these partners’ capacity to achieve their mission and to accelerate local progress toward social equity in their communities.”   

Eisner announced that Lily Brent has been appointed the first Director of Repair the World Atlanta. “An organization that is engaging young adults at scale in deep and nuanced partnerships with organizations already doing exceptional work requires a unique leader, one  with insight into the passions of young adults, with strong connections to social equity work in Atlanta, and with the ability to forge many deep partnerships across the community.  Lily Brent has exactly that kind of leadership along with a unique background and experience creating the conditions for youth to reach their full potential in the US and abroad. It’s a delight to be following her lead as we launch this essential program in Atlanta.”

“As the founding Director for Repair the World Atlanta, I am thrilled to join other young adults in critical self-reflection, learning, volunteering with community partners, and strengthening alliances among diverse communities,” said Lily Brent, Director. “Atlanta’s history calls us to be bold as we grapple with the inequity.  Bringing together local nonprofits and committed young people, I know that Repair the World Atlanta will make a unique contribution.”

Lily will be joined by Site Development Fellow Rachel Bukowitz in leading a year of relationship building and programming, ranging from volunteer opportunities focusing on food and education justice, to Repair’s classic Turn the Tables Shabbat dinners and Cocktails with a Conscience series where conversations are opened up between community members about social issues, activism, and action. Repair the World Atlanta will bring together Repair’s proven programming with Lily’s skillset and Atlanta’s great nonprofits and community spirit.

“We are thrilled to be an early partner of Repair the World Atlanta,” says Jay Cranman, CEO of Hands On Atlanta.  “Together, we will engage even more young people who are committed to creating positive change in our community. This is an exciting moment for our city.”

“We are so excited to welcome Repair the World to Atlanta,” says Eric M. Robbins, President & CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. “Our Atlanta Jewish community has a long history of service and we are honored to be the home to the national service movement in the Points of Light Foundation. With Repair the World’s proven model and track record in other communities, we know it will thrive here in Atlanta and provide a way for millennials to engage in service that matters in a way that aligns with our Jewish values.”

Repair the World Atlanta will join its sister Repair the World Communities programs in Baltimore, Brooklyn, Detroit, Harlem, Miami, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, bringing a unique combination of peer-to-peer engagement, educational programs and community-based service opportunities to thousands of young Jewish adults and their friends.  

About Our Team – Repair the World Atlanta

Lily Brent (Director) is a writer and social worker whose curiosity and commitment to service catalyzed a career in international development spanning six countries over the last eight years. Her search for the nuanced, everyday work of community-led social justice has brought her to Repair the World. In her previous professional experience, she  provided psychosocial support to adolescents in such diverse settings as a New York City public school and outpatient psychiatric clinic, a D.C. mentoring program for kids in foster care, and the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda. She has worked on adolescent sexual & reproductive health & rights in Niger and Bangladesh, and ensuring that women and youth can access the benefits of development projects in Benin, Mongolia, and Nepal. Lily also spent three years working to reform criminal justice policy and practice in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Virginia.


Rachel Bukowitz (Site Development Fellow) studied Environmental Studies and Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. During her undergraduate studies she worked with a local nonprofit, The Homewood Children’s Village, to develop a 33-page “Healthy Food and Gardening Guide” for Homewood residents. Homewood is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh without a grocery store, so the guide served to highlight alternative options for accessing healthy, affordable food including community gardens, food banks, farm stands, farmers markets, and more. After graduating from Pitt, Rachel served as a Food Justice Fellow with Repair the World Pittsburgh. In her Fellowship, Rachel worked with 412 Food Rescue, Just Harvest, and Circles Greater Pittsburgh around issues of food advocacy and poverty. She dedicated herself to service and deeply learning about the systemic root causes of poverty and hunger.

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Jewish delegation witnesses ‘heartbreaking’ situation at border detention centers and courthouse

This article originally appeared in The JTA on August 19, 2018. Repair the World’s President & CEO David Eisner was part of the delegation of national Jewish leaders who went to the border to observe the migrant crisis. 

by Josefin Dolsten

A delegation of Jewish leaders from 17 organizations is visiting detention and migrant facilities on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The 27-person delegation visited detention centers in San Diego on Tuesday and is traveling to asylum-seeker shelters in Tijuana, Mexico, on Wednesday.

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Jewish Leaders on HIAS-ADL Trip Witness Border Crisis Up Close

This article originally appeared on the HIAS blog on August 24, 2018. Repair the World’s President & CEO David eisner was part of the delegation of national Jewish leaders who went to the border to observe the migrant crisis.

by Sharon Samber and Bill Swersey, HIAS.org

Sometimes you have to see things for yourself.

That is just what 27 leaders from 17 national Jewish organizations did this week as part of a delegation led by HIAS and the Anti-Defamation League to view firsthand the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Jewish Leaders Will Cross U.S.-Mexico Border To Observe Migrant Crisis

This article originally appeared in The Forward on August 19, 2018. Repair the World’s President & CEO David Eisner was part of the delegation of national Jewish leaders who went to the border to observe the migrant crisis. 

By Alyssa Fisher

More than 40 leaders of national Jewish organizations will meet in San Diego, California, on Tuesday to cross the border into Mexico to witness the migrant crisis.

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Flying into the 21st Century

This article originally appeared on eJewish Philanthropy on August 24, 2018.

By Eric M. Robbins

In a recent article, Talk is Cheap, several challenges facing Federations today are brought to the forefront. These include operating inefficiencies, partisanship, shifting giving trends and affiliation rates – just to name a few. The author correctly identified all of these challenges, and further pointed out that they have been building up over years, but he makes one critical omission: Federations across North America are changing to meet these challenges and they are finding unique ways to support the communities they serve. Just look at Atlanta. We have spent the last year in Atlanta rallying the community to tackle these exact issues.

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A life’s journey filled with service

This article originally appeared on The Times of Israel on August 22, 2018.

By Liz Jaffe

I remember it vividly, stuffing those envelopes side-by-side with my parents for an event. I knew we were doing it for a charitable cause. And I was only 5 years old.

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Poverty: Calling for Meaningful Jewish Attention

Written at the invitation of the Jewish Funders Network (JFN), as one of several Jewish leadership perspectives on the role of Jewish Philanthropy in addressing Poverty.

By David Eisner

(An installment in the series Spotlight on Poverty, a partnership between JFN and eJewish Philanthropy.)

Poverty too often appears as a cause, effect, and perpetuating factor in various social crises, including failures in our systems of health, education, food distribution, housing, and other social services. Social ruptures of hatred, blame, and fear toward groups based on race, ethnicity, and other forms of identity often further exacerbate these crises. However poverty comes to be, it is attended by a vulnerability and loss of power that opens the door to other crises, failures, and ruptures that make the cycle worse.

I’ve pushed at the monster of American inequity from many vantage points over 35 years – leading business coalitions that worked to expand digital access rather than exacerbating economic divides; managing foundations that invested in growing nonprofit capacity to address issues of inequity; serving as a White House appointed, Senate-confirmed agency head, distributing billions of federal grant dollars to nonprofits and communities leveraging AmeriCorps and VISTA volunteers to strengthen safety nets and interrupt generational cycles; and, today, heading Repair the World, offering thousands of Jewish young adults meaningful service opportunities to address urgent needs experienced in their own communities.

Even though so much energy is required to achieve even limited success addressing poverty, the work of Repair the World has fueled in me a sense of renewed optimism and purpose; a revitalization that comes from tapping into the energetic idealism of young adults together with the urgency of Jewish moral values. Along with Repair, the amazing work that Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps has been leading for decades offers both inspiration and direction for this.

There is an enormous opportunity for the Jewish community to bring new energy, power, and cohesion to the work of our nonprofit sector and, especially, of our philanthropy, to address the needs against which our neighbors and often our community are struggling.

First and foremost, taking this opportunity would make a critical difference at a critical time in the lives of others, and the benefits to the Jewish community would be enormous as well. Struggling to navigate our own demographic changes, to heal rifts of leadership, to bridge generational and geographic divides, we have a truly classic opportunity to recapture our sense of efficacy and community by turning from our self-absorption, and, instead, living out our “light unto nations” purpose. Hillel said the entire Torah rests in the scripture that others should not be treated as you, yourself would not wish to be treated.

Repair the World is experiencing this as a vital moment for our Jewish community to live out our purpose to be a light to the nations, to recognize the holy in all people, to make the places we live better for our presence.

Here are some lessons that we learned that may serve Jewish philanthropists seeking to engage more deeply in anti-poverty work.

  • Nowhere does implicit bias require deeper listening and humility than when philanthropists address poverty. Reducing the chasm between haves and have-nots is an act of valor for philanthropists, who, by definition fall uniquely on the “haves” side of the gulf. This doesn’t necessarily taint their motivations, but it does assure practical and moral conflict in addressing the very dynamics by which the wealth was acquired, and can create instincts that the philanthropists “know better” than the communities suffering poverty about what they need.
  • Relationships first. No amount of work addressing urgent needs or bringing change can yield fruit without holding deep relationships with the people and nonprofits in the communities that are at the epicenter of the challenge. And, in the end, it is the relationships with both organizations and the individuals who lead and participate in their efforts- not the issues or the investments- that drive transformation for everyone deeply involved in the work.
  • Think long-term and act with urgency. The old and new testaments each assert that the poor will always be with us – and we are ordered to be generous, open our hand, never refuse, and more. This reflects the deep dichotomy that the issue of poverty may be immutable, but the journey of individuals, families and communities into, and, more importantly, out of poverty rests in our hands.
  • Address urgent needs – while working to change the system. The need for bringing systemic change to a justice system that seems driven to incarcerate generations of men of color cannot be overstated. Neither can we overstate the need for caring adults to mentor youth whose parents are incarcerated. The likelihood is 75% that a child with one incarcerated parent will spend time in jail themself – a statistic ruthlessly tied to the huge majority of such children who live in poverty. However, when that same child has a volunteer mentor for one year, that likelihood is cut in more than half. Investments to address the system will save future generations – however, they can only succeed over a great arc of time and in partnership across multiple sectors. Meanwhile, investments in effective nonprofits that recruit, train, support and oversee these corps of volunteers will have a real impact on real people, right now.
  • Mistakes are lessons and failures accelerate success. I still shudder recalling my visit to a DC public school in 1996, where I found administrative offices cluttered with dusty servers, screens and CPU’s – all technology that, as head of America Online’s new foundation, I’d sent them nearly a year earlier. We believed that we could “help” overburdened, under-resourced schools create new digital pathways for student success; however, that year not many students actually benefited from the tens of millions of dollars worth of hardware, software and digital access accounts from America Online and other companies. The lesson was painful and expensive – and it was repeated many times over before philanthropists identified the right formulas for supporting installation, training, and integration into educational curricula. Today, however, access to internet technology and training is supporting many schools and students to realize educational aspirations that would otherwise be unachievable – and the early failures were as essential in getting there as the persistent effort.

Victories against poverty come depressingly slow, and are often offset by even larger defeats; relentless acceleration in the pace of change, fueled by technology and globalism are driving economic displacement and volatility, fostering environments that capture vulnerable families in the cycle.

Our Jewish community has people, resources, values and experience to make a big difference with work that desperately needs doing. And, it seems to me that the opportunity to tackle this work comes at the perfect time for our community to reach beyond our insular challenges and support some holy work.

David Eisner is President and CEO of Repair the World.

Poverty: Calling for Meaningful Jewish Attention

This article was originally published on eJewish Philanthropy on August 13, 2018.

By David Eisner

Poverty too often appears as a cause, effect, and perpetuating factor in various social crises, including failures in our systems of health, education, food distribution, housing, and other social services. Social ruptures of hatred, blame, and fear toward groups based on race, ethnicity, and other forms of identity often further exacerbate these crises. However poverty comes to be, it is attended by a vulnerability and loss of power that opens the door to other crises, failures, and ruptures that make the cycle worse.

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Leading By Example

This article originally appeared in The Detroit Jewish News on August 2, 2018.

By Robin Schwartz

Repair the World’s new executive director reflects on her inaugural year.

You might find her jogging through Detroit’s Woodbridge neighborhood or working in a greenhouse or helping to bury old prayer books in a sacred space for Jewish texts. But you’ll most likely find Sarah Allyn, 30, of Detroit at Repair the World’s cool headquarters on Bagley, where she just wrapped her first year as executive director of the Jewish nonprofit focused on service-learning and volunteering.

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