This post originally appeared on Jim Joseph Foundation on September 8, 2015
By Jim Joseph Foundation
“It’s not that the Jewish piece makes me like volunteering more, the volunteering makes me like my Judaism more.”
– Volunteer with Repair the World
Since 2009, Repair the World has worked to make volunteer service a defining element of American Jewish life. Through Repair, tens of thousands of young adults engage in meaningful service opportunities infused with Jewish values and learning that help make the world a better place.
Repair the World’s flagship Communities program, launched in 2013, is a driving force behind this national Jewish service movement. Focused on food and education justice, the program places full-time fellows in cities (Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New York City) to build volunteer initiatives alongside local non-profit organizations. As fellows and volunteers help communities in need, they also engage in Jewish and civic learning about personal reflection about their service work.
Building Jewish Community through Volunteer Service—a summary of an independent evaluation of the first two years of the program—shows that the Communities’ model is bearing fruit. The program’s efforts to connect Jewish volunteers with pressing local needs drives positive outcomes both for Jewish engagement and for serving communities. An especially critical finding is that these service opportunities are highly attractive to young Jewish adults who have had little or no previous engagement in Jewish life. Other important findings from the summary report are that:
- Service through a Jewish lens can be “sticky” and keep participants engaged.
- Participants build new forms of Jewish communities around their service.
- Service connects meaningfully to Jewish identity formation and Jewish values.
- One-time and ongoing volunteers positively impact each other.
“Repair’s program in Pittsburgh is empowering young adults to help others, to organize, to learn and to connect with peers. We like seeing these young adults feel more connected to Jewish values, and we really like knowing that these activities are turning into deeper, more ongoing forms of connection and community.”
– Jeff Finkelstein, President/CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
Part of the Slingshot Class of 2016 in recognition of its innovative approach to Jewish life and engagement, Repair the World is the only organization devoted exclusively to engaging young Jewish adults as volunteers. Repair will hold a Jewish Service Summit September 15th in New York to bring people together to further explore volunteer service infused with Jewish values. Stay tuned for more information.
The Jim Joseph Foundation has awarded $10 million to Repair the World. Read Building Jewish Community through Volunteer Service.