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How to Help Others While Social Distancing

This originally appeared in The Jewish Voice on April 1, 2020.

“In the last week our organization has shifted our focus to consider how we can mobilize Jews and our neighbors to take action to repair the world under our new, mostly virtual, circumstances.” Repair the World’s President and CEO, Cindy Greenberg shares how to continue to serve your community while social distancing.

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Value of Community During this Global Health Crisis

Dear Repair the World Community,

Never in my lifetime has the imperative to love the stranger felt so alive. As we adopt new practices of social isolation to protect ourselves and our greater community, we are practicing the essence of what it means to care for our neighbors. 

As a community, we are grappling with the question, “what can we do to support those around us?” We know that vulnerable members of our community and our neighbors require extra support and thoughtfulness during times of distress. Repair the World has put our in-person service and learning opportunities on hold, and we are shifting our focus to consider how we can mobilize Jews and our neighbors to take action to repair the world under our new circumstances.

We challenge you to consider how you can care for and love the stranger during these times of heightened fear and uncertainty.

While the situation is changing every day, here are three opportunities we see in this moment to make a difference.

1. Continue to Support Our Amazing Local Service Partners

We have been in touch with our 65+ service partners across nine communities. While they are all in different stages of planning, one theme is that they anticipate a dramatic increase in clients due to the pandemic and as a result are in need of financial support. Now is a good time to increase your donations to your local soup kitchen or food pantry. Some of our dearest partners in this work, who we know could use your support during this difficult moment are Southwest Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center (Atlanta), Baltimore Hunger Project (Baltimore), St. John’s Bread and Life (Brooklyn), The Night Ministry (Chicago), Gleaners Community Food Bank (Detroit), Food Bank for New York City (Harlem), Lotus House (Miami), Broad Street Ministry (Philadelphia), and East End Cooperative Ministry (Pittsburgh). 

2. Volunteer Online

With increased time at home, consider spending some of your time volunteering online. Our partners at Points of Light compiled this resource with a number of options for virtual volunteering, Catchafire matches volunteers with online opportunities that tap into their professional skills, and Golden is building out opportunities for virtual volunteering. 

3. Support Your Neighbors

While being advised not to venture far out from our homes, now is the time to think about who in our immediate proximity is vulnerable. We love this template that you can use to reach out to your neighbors and this new initiative in New York City called Invisible Hands which connects people with opportunities to shop and perform other tasks for their neighbors. We hope to see many more of these initiatives being developed in the coming days.

There are many more questions for us to consider. Who is suffering from social isolation? What are the needs of the health care workers on the front line and how can we support them? With many people now unable to work, how will we support those in need given an extreme rise in demand for food and supplies? 

As an organization we are continuing to focus on mobilizing the Jewish community to care for those who are most vulnerable right now. Read and share our resource, developed in partnership with Amplifier, on caring for the sick during the COVID-19 crisis. We are thinking creatively about how we can accomplish this and we welcome your support and best thinking. As opportunities emerge, we will share some ways we can all serve and care for our community virtually alongside our partners. 

The work to heal during and after this global health crisis will be ongoing. We are grounding this work by listening carefully to community needs. Our hope is to keep you updated in the coming weeks on opportunities, big and small, for you to make a difference. 

Yours in partnership, 

Cindy Greenberg
President and CEO, Repair the World 

Playdates with a Purpose: A Space for Kids to Learn the Joys of Volunteering

This originally appeared in The Jewish Times on February 27, 2020. 

Playdates with a Purpose is a program created by PJ Library of Metropolitan Detroit and Repair The World Detroit to allow children to do social service projects related to Jewish books they’re reading.

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Black History Month: How Jewish Judges Played Role In Miami’s Civil Rights Movement

This originally appeared on CBS Miami on February 14, 2020.

Recently, Repair the World Miami hosted Shabbat at the Historic Black Police Precinct and Museum. CBS Miami was there while attendees learned about Jewish support during the civil rights movement.

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Jewish Leaders Travel to Rwanda to Engage in International Development

This originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post on February 13, 2020. 

“In February, a group of 16 Jewish leaders from Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom traveled to Rwanda as part of the InterACT Global study trip. Participants were heads of organizations such as Shalom Corps, UJIA, the Schusterman Foundation Israel, Repair the World and more. InterACT Global was initiated by the Office of the President of Israel and is led by OLAM, a platform of Jewish and Israeli international development organizations, in partnership with SID Israel, Gesher Leadership Institute, and Shalom Corps.”

Reflections from MLK Day in Atlanta

This originally appeared in the Atlanta Jewish Times on January 31, 2020.

For 1,300 volunteers on MLK Day, what comes next?

On the 34th annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, we have a lot to be proud of. A coalition of 23 Jewish organizations and 26 service partners, coordinated by Repair the World, mobilized 1,300 volunteers to address urgent local needs.

We packed 2,850 kits for people experiencing homelessness and sorted 168 boxes of books. We cooked 380 meals for people in shelters and delivered over 100 more to families facing food insecurity. We packed 400 dental supply kits and swabbed 40 potential new bone marrow donors. We planted trees and sustainably stewarded green spaces. We modeled love and care for our seniors and volunteered with our children. We didn’t let the scale of need paralyze us; we took action and we tried to meet it.

One week later, I’m still proud of our service together. And, I know that 200 people will line up at SWEEAC [Southwest Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center] to get groceries today. I know that 90 percent of these food pantry clients are currently employed, but don’t earn enough to feed their families. I know that those 200 people standing in line represent 600-plus family members who don’t have enough to eat, most of whom are children. And I know that they will be back next week.

Working at Repair the World means that I get to see firsthand the ongoing commitment to service from many individuals and institutions in the Atlanta Jewish community. I get to fight back against the overwhelm every day and see the impact of small acts of kindness. For example, hearing about the moving experience of providing nail care to men at the Gateway Center, how unusual to connect on a deeply human level with individuals who we more often fear, demonize and hustle past. Service is an opportunity for us to reconnect with our own humanity and compassion.

Dyonna Ginsberg teaches about the difference between chesed (kindness), tzedakah (philanthropy) and tzedek (justice). A few days after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I find myself thinking about the times that I have been forced to rely on the kindness of strangers. A random act of kindness or charity is a beautiful thing, prized in our tradition, but I wouldn’t want to count on it for adequate nutrition, shelter or safety.

We have accomplished a lot by honoring Dr. King with acts of service. But let’s not be too proud, or too complacent, to ask ourselves why acts of kindness and philanthropy are still necessary in the wealthiest nation on earth, in a thriving city. We can also honor Dr. King with frankness and honesty: 52 years after his murder, massive health and wealth disparities based on race persist in this country and in this city. Between now and next MLK Day, let’s ask ourselves what enduring structural changes are necessary to ensure that the basic needs of every person are non-negotiable, that their rights are iron-clad, their dignity a foregone conclusion. The legislative session is upon us. There are people and organizations doing the work of long-term change. Between now and our next service day, let’s join them.

Lily Brent, Executive Director, Repair the World Atlanta

Repairing The World On MLK Day

This originally appeared in the Atlanta Jewish Times on January 24, 2020.

“A total of 23 Jewish organizations and 1,300 volunteers were involved in this year’s MLK Day of Service Jan. 20 coordinated by Repair the World, which creates opportunities for tikkun olam, the Hebrew of its name.”

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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

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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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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