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Fall Fix Up Young Adult Crew Tackles Detroit’s Delray Community.

This post originally appeared on The Jewish News on November 28, 2013

By Ben Falik

On Nov. 10, Jewish Family Service and Repair the World partnered to go where Fall Fix Up had never gone before.  Thirty Jewish young adults — of the 400 volunteers who participated in JFS’ 17th Annual Fall Fix Up — brought energy, inquiry and a 30-yard dumpster to one corner of Southwest Detroit.

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Do Alternative Breaks Have a Real Impact?

Each year, more than 2,000 college students and other young adults participate in immersive Jewish service-learning (IJSL) Alternative Break (AB) programs that are run by nearly a dozen organizations. Repair the World’s new study, “Breaking for Change: How Jewish Service-learning Influences the Alternative Break Experience,” investigated the short-term impacts of participation, and explored whether there were differential impacts based on demographic characteristics of the participants and based on elements of program design. The study is based off of 1,034 responses from participants from IJSL Alternative Break experiences during the 2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012 academic years, and was commissioned as a follow up to one of their studies from 2010, which reported on the impact of AB’s on host communities.

Among some of the key findings, Repair the World found that:

  • Young People Want to Make a Difference and Learn about others: Most young adults tend to participate in Alternative Breaks experiences because they want to make a difference in other people’s lives, to have contact with individuals from different backgrounds and learn about their communities.
  • Alternative Breaks have a strong positive impact on the Jewish identities of respondents. 92% reported positive change related to Jewish identity as a result of their Alternative Break experience. The largest positive shift occurred for participants feeling that that there are many ways to be Jewish and that as a Jew, people have a responsibility for people from all backgrounds. Over 70% of respondents increased their ratings of these items.
  • Alternative Breaks also had a positive impact on the connections between Jewish identities and acts of service. More than 77% reported that they increased their beliefs that their Jewish values contributed to their commitment to service. Over 70% said that they increased their belief that Jewish values and the value of social justice are strongly connected.

To read the Executive Summary of the study, click here and to read the full report, click here.

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Repair the World and the Schusterman Foundation Announce post-Sandy Micro-Grant Program

This post originally appeared on December 5th 2012 in eJewish Philanthropy

Repair the World is offering micro-grants for winter and spring alternative break programs that focus on Hurricane Sandy relief and response efforts.

The micro-grants, ranging from $1,000 – $5,000, may be used by programs to help cover costs of the trip such as travel, supplies, staffing and local housing. Eligible groups should engage teens, college students and post-college-aged young adults (up to age 35) to serve at least 200 hours, to implement a disaster response service-learning curriculum developed by Repair the World, and to report on their experiences. All groups receiving a micro-grant must operate under or in connection to a 501(c)(3).

The grants are made possible through the support of The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.


PRESS RELEASE: Repair the World & AJFCA Launch Volunteer Initiative Program

 –Leading Organizations Partner to Inspire New Generation of Civically Engaged North American Jews–

NEW YORK, NY, APRIL 2012 – Repair the World (Repair), a national nonprofit that mobilizes Jews to serve those in need, has partnered with the Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies (AJFCA), the membership association for North America’s Jewish family service agencies, on a Volunteer Initiative Program to increase the size and effectiveness the Jewish family services network’s volunteer base.

AJFCA, which supports a network of 125 agencies across the United States and Canada annually serves hundreds of thousands of Americans in need from all faiths and backgrounds. It will work with Repair the World, which connects Jewish Americans to meaningful service opportunities and builds capacity for organizations to run effective service programs rooted in Jewish values, to infuse AJFCA’s member agencies with new models of volunteering.

The Volunteer Initiative Program will focus on expanding outreach to young adults and increasing opportunities for this demographic to volunteer at AJFCA member agencies and will include a series of workshops, networking opportunities and information sharing sessions. It will also provide technical assistance and support to local AJFCA outposts to promote volunteering, provide service-learning resources and build the capacity of local volunteer leaders.

“The work of Jewish family service agencies is so important, especially given today’s economic climate. The need to build the volunteer capacity of those agencies is a shared concern for both Repair the World and AJFCA,” said Jon Rosenberg, CEO of Repair the World. This is a natural partnership and we are tremendously excited about the work ahead.”

Together, Repair the World and AJFCA have hired Jennie Gates Beckman to serve as the Initiative’s first Manager of Civic Engagement & Repair the World Programming. Based in Baltimore, Beckman will help lead the effort to effectively engaging thousands of people in vital volunteer work. Beckman, who has a Master’s Degree in Jewish Communal Service from Brandeis University, has worked in volunteer recruitment for the past five years at the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

“Today’s young adults will form the support base for our network of Jewish family service agencies tomorrow and into the future,” said Lee Sherman, President and CEO of AJFCA. “Repair the World and AJFCA share a recognition of the importance of engaging this group with the essential work of our agencies. Jennie’s experience inspiring young adults to volunteer in Baltimore makes her an excellent choice to lead this initiative.”


AJFCA is the membership association for approximately 125 Jewish family service agencies across the U.S. and Canada. Ranging in size from small departments of local Jewish federations to some of the largest human services agencies in North America, our members provide vital services to clients of all ages, faiths and economic backgrounds. They counsel families, feed the hungry, assist the elderly and protect the vulnerable. We are united by the values of our Jewish tradition and work together toward our common goal of tikkun olam, repairing the world.


Established in 2009, Repair the World is a national nonprofit organization that mobilizes Jewish Americans to contend with the world’s most pressing issues through service.  Headquartered in New York City, we connect individuals with meaningful volunteer opportunities to help their local, national and global communities, and builds the capacity of individuals and organizations to run effective service programs rooted in Jewish values. For more information, visit


PRESS RELEASE: Detroit Nation and Repair the World Launch Drive, Detroit Nation’s New Tech-Based Volunteer Initiative Designed to Boost Local Economy

Partnership enables initiative launch, hiring of Detroit Nation’s first staff member

New York, NY and Detroit, MI, September 24, 2012DetroitNation, a national expatriate organization dedicated to supporting the Detroit region, and RepairtheWorld, a national nonprofit that works to inspire American Jews to volunteer, today announced the launch of Drive, Detroit Nation’s proprietary incubation program that hopes to build the local economy by encouraging social entrepreneurship.

Designed to extend the network and resources available nationally to social entrepreneurs in Detroit, Drive hopes to help Detroit’s social entrepreneurs quickly scale their venture. Teams of skilled Detroit Nation volunteers partner with Detroit- based social entrepreneurs for intensive sessions designed to help the participating local businesses overcome challenges that have prevented them from achieving growth. Two types of intensives are offered, a Blitz session which lasts one day or an extended session which takes place over a period of four weeks. Drive allows Detroit based social enterprises to connect with mentors nationwide. Drive also hopes to help build Detroit’s position as a vibrant place to live and do business. Volunteer teams from across the Detroit Nation network are strategically matched, through a skills and interest-based process, with social entrepreneurs in Detroit to help them overcome self-identified challenges in developing their businesses.

“We are grateful to Repair the World for helping build Drive as a robust volunteer solution,” said Rachel Jacobs, founder, Detroit Nation. “We look forward to the launch of the program in late fall and expect that Drive will facilitate opportunities for individuals with an interest in Detroit to engage in the city’s burgeoning start-up culture. Further, Drive will provide access for Detroit’s social entrepreneurs to professionals with the resources needed to help sustainably scale their businesses.”

“Repair the World has been working to build volunteerism in Detroit, with a large focus on education and literacy. We’re excited to grow our commitment to boost the local economy by building the area’s community of social entrepreneurs,” said Will Berkovitz, senior vice president, Repair the World.

Meg Pouncy, program manager, has been hired to oversee Drive’s launch and subsequent implementation. In addition to being a successful product designer, Meg is also the founder of Blue Sugar, a design firm committed to designing products and services that achieve positive social impact.

Detroit Nation has begun seeking volunteers and Detroit businesses to participate in the initial phase of Drive. For more information about Detroit Nation and Drive, visit


About Detroit Nation

Detroit Nation is a national volunteer-led organization dedicated to supporting Detroit by directing the money, skills and energy of native Detroiters now living elsewhere to organizations engaged in economic development, cultural innovation and job creation in Southeastern Michigan. With more than 1,700 supporters between five chapters in Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C., Detroit Nation members represent a range of industries, including professional services, film, media, green engineering and healthcare.

About Repair the World

Repair the World is a national nonprofit organization that mobilizes Jewish Americans to address the world’s most pressing issues through volunteering. Headquartered in New York City, we connect individuals with meaningful service opportunities to help their local, national and global communities, and enable individuals and organizations to run effective programs rooted in Jewish values. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @RepairtheWorld.



Meg Pouncy


[email protected]


Dara Lehon, Repair the World

646-695-2700 x18



PRESS RELEASE: Moishe House and Repair the World to Open First Houses Dedicated to Service in Detroit and Chicago This Fall

–Young Adults Committed to Giving Back Locally Share Residence

NEW YORK, NY, AUGUST 9, 2012Following a national search for outstanding young leaders dedicated to serving those in need, Repair the World, a national organization that works to inspire American Jews and their communities to volunteer, and Moishe House, an international organization focused on building community for Jews in their twenties, will open two Repair the World Moishe Houses to serve as communal residences for young adults in Detroit and Chicago. The houses will act as hubs for volunteer and service activity in each city as their residents engage local young people in addressing pressing social issues and humanitarian needs such as educational inequality, homelessness, poverty, hunger and domestic violence.

The Repair the World Moishe House project builds on Moishe House’s communal living model, which brings together small groups (3-5) of young Jews who turn their homes into centers from which they organize informal Jewish activities such as Friday night dinners and social mixers for a city’s greater Jewish young adult population. There are currently 44 Moishe Houses in 13 different countries, engaging more than 53,000 young people each year. The Repair the World-Moishe House collaboration enhances this model with an increased service requirement, tapping into Repair the World’s expertise in building effective service and Jewish service-learning programs while also bolstering existing Repair the World service projects.

For each house, two groups of four residents will receive a modest rent subsidy and budget to build service-related programming for other Jews in their twenties, as they work to improve social conditions and then relate this volunteerism to their Jewish heritage, history and values. The residents are expected to move into the homes – which they are currently identifying – in August and begin programming by September 1, 2012.

The opening of Repair the World Moishe House represents a growing partnership between the two organizations who earlier this summer co-sponsored a Jewish service-learning retreat in Maryland focused on training Moishe House residents and community members across the country on methods by which to engage their peers in meaningful, effective service.

“The Repair the World Moishe House project will be a tremendous addition to our growing network. We are extremely excited about the opportunity to create a Moishe House that will have a deep focus on promoting community service,” said David Cygielman, Moishe House’s CEO. “We have been working with Repair the World for more than a year to strengthen our service-oriented program offerings at Moishe Houses around the globe. The opening of the Repair the World Moishe House represents the next step in our partnership, cementing our commitment to providing high-quality Tikkun Olam opportunities to Jewish young adults.”

“In our work building a generation of young Jews committed to service, the Repair the World Moishe Houses will play a critical role in inspiring young adults to make a commitment to promoting service, giving residents and their peers an excellent opportunity to make a difference in their local communities,” said Repair the World’s CEO, Jon Rosenberg. “We’re excited about this expanded partnership and its potential to see real impact on the ground,” said Rosenberg.

ABOUT Moishe House

Moishe House provides meaningful Jewish experiences for young adults by supporting leaders in their twenties as they create vibrant, home-based Jewish communities. The organization has pioneered a creative and cost-effective model where three to five resident volunteer leaders create a home that becomes a hub of Jewish life for the young adult community. Moishe House has global reach and impact through its network of 45 houses in 13 countries, across North & South America, Europe, the Former Soviet Union, South Africa, and China. In 2011, Moishe House hosted nearly 2,900 programs for more than 53,000 participants. For additional information, visit

ABOUT Repair the World

Repair the World is a national nonprofit organization that mobilizes Jewish Americans to address the world’s most pressing issues through volunteering.  Headquartered in New York City, we connect individuals with meaningful service opportunities to help their local, national and global communities, and enable individuals and organizations to run effective programs rooted in Jewish values. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @RepairtheWorld.


Jen Kraus Rosen, Moishe House / 980.225.7667 / [email protected]

Dara Lehon, Repair the World / 646.695.2700*18 / [email protected]

PRESS RELEASE: Repair the World Releases First-Ever Journal on Jewish Service-Learning

– Experts Reveal Insights into Emerging Field –

MARCH 20, 2012 NEW YORK, NY – Repair the World and the Jewish Communal Service Association today released “People of the Book, Community of Action: Exploring Jewish-service-learning,” the first-ever issue of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service dedicated to Jewish service-learning (JSL). The creation of this landmark publication, which includes articles from experts in Jewish service-learning and from organizations such as American Jewish World Service, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Agency for Israel, focuses on trends and best practices for the JSL field. It marks Repair’s continued commitment to the growing the JSL field and aiding the professionals who work in it.

Jewish service-learning combines direct service that responds to real community needs with learning and time for reflection on why that service represents a Jewish value. The new Journal provides background on the field and the relationship between Jewish identity and Jewish service-learning. It also tackles topics such as the cost and value of Jewish service-learning, the creation of a “service people,” the integration of Jewish learning and service, and the state of service in Israel. The Journal also highlights the impact of JSL on the communities its volunteers serve, on participants performing the service, and on the Jewish community at large.

“To succeed, JSL service must be authentic, it must support the needs of the community being served, and it must effectively align its learning program to the work itself. At best, it can help build connections between and among participants, and enhance their long-term commitments to service,” said Jon Rosenberg, CEO of Repair the World. “We hope the Journal will help deepen and broaden the knowledge about Jewish service-learning in the Jewish community and breed best practices.”

Repair the World has been studying the Jewish service-learning (JSL) field since it was founded in 2009 and fostering its growth by providing grants, technical assistance, leadership, support for educators and conducting research and evaluation to inform the field’s development. In 2010-2011, Repair the World released several reports including The Worth of What They Do: The Impact of Short-Term Immersive Jewish Service-Learning on Host Communities–An Exploratory Study, Volunteering + Values: A Repair the World Report on Jewish Young Adults, and Year 2: Refining the Pedagogy of the Group Leadership Training Institute for Immersive Jewish Service Program Leaders. 

Journal Highlights include:

  • From Service-Learning to Service-Activism: What Teach for America Can Teach the Jewish Service Movement, Aaron Dorfman, American Jewish World Service
  • Dual Benefits, Dual Challenges: The Theory and Practice of Integrating Community Impact and Participant Development in Jewish Service-Learning Experiences, Max Klau, City Year and Dana Talmi, Yahel
  • A Judaism that Matters: Creating Integrated Service Learning Communities, Lisa Exler, American Jewish World Service and Jill Jacobs, Rabbis for Human Rights
  • If We Build It, They Will Come: A Case for Developing the Field of Jewish Service-Learning in Israel, Dyonna Ginsburg, The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Making Meaning: Emerging Adults and Service, Beth Cousens, Imagine Jewish Education
  • Becoming a Servant: How James Kugel’s Conception of Avodat Hashem Can Help Us Think About the Dispositional Goals of Jewish Service-Learning, Jon Levisohn, Brandeis University

The Journal was made possible with support from the Jim Joseph Foundation and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

“We see the depth and breadth of inquiry on display in this exciting edition of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service as a sign of the growing sophistication of the field of Jewish Service Learning,” said Al Levitt, president of the Jim Joseph Foundation.

“Our Foundation works to expand service opportunities that help young people make a difference in the world while connecting to their Jewish values and tradition,” said Lisa Eisen, National Director of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. “We hope our support of this journal will increase awareness and understanding of the rich field of Jewish service learning, and how it can strengthen our young people, our community and our world.

People of the Book, Community of Action is available in both print and online, Repair the World’s blog devoted exclusively to providing resources and a community to the field’s practitioners. This is the first time that the Journal of Jewish Communal Service will be available online. The Journal’s release also includes a digital supplement comprised of smaller pieces from practitioners and experts in the field, including the likes of Ruth Messinger, Jordan Namerow, Michelle Lackie, Amy Weiss, Shimshon Stuart Siegel, and Rabbi Bradley Solmsen.


Established in 2009, Repair the World is a national nonprofit organization that mobilizes Jewish Americans to contend with the world’s most pressing issues through service.  Headquartered in New York City, we connect individuals with meaningful volunteer opportunities to help their local, national and global communities, and builds the capacity of individuals and organizations to run effective service programs rooted in Jewish values. For more information, visit


Hillel, Repair the World partner for community service

With a budding partnership already under way, two groups are planning to redefine the role of service in American Jewish life.

In January 2011, Repair the World, a national organization devoted to promoting service among Jewish communities, teamed up with Penn Hillel as part of a broader mission to engage Jewish college students in sustainable and meaningful service projects.

This semester, many new initiatives and programs of the partnership will kick off, including student-run initiatives and educational sessions.

Last spring, Repair and Hillel awarded three fellowships that include financial, technical and managerial support to student-run initiatives. The fourth fellowship was added this semester, according to Debbie Yunker, Penn Hillel’s assistant director for Leadership Development and Operations.

Repair and Hillel hope students will create initiatives that will develop into permanent service programs at Penn. These students applied for fellowships last May and some have been planning their initiatives since as early as last semester.

Repair hopes to cultivate a “hub for campus-based service,” said Jon Rosenberg, chief executive officer and 1988 College graduate.

Rosenberg believes a period of intensive service should become a “rite of passage” for Jewish young adults, and that the college time frame is by nature a “strategically important time in which to work [with students] because behaviors fostered now can last into the rest of their lives.”

“We want service to get so deeply embedded in the Hillel community that it becomes a part of the organization’s DNA,” he said.

College junior Alexis Mayer, who is one of this year’s fellows, is planning an event for the weekend of Mar. 17, held in conjunction with a national initiative called “Sharsheret Pink Shabbat.”

The event is geared toward raising awareness of the various risks of breast cancer and educating the Penn community about the resources available for affected women and their families, Mayer said.

To increase awareness in the Penn community, Mayer plans to distribute “fact and figure” sheets around Hillel, sell pink-colored challah — a traditional braided bread commonly eaten during Jewish holidays — on Locust Walk and invite a breast cancer survivor to share her story.

Mayer added that for Ashkenazi Jews, the genetic descendants of particular medieval Jewish communities in Germany and who make up a large percentage of the Jewish individuals on campus, the likelihood of contracting breast cancer is “nearly 70 percent more likely.”

“We want students and community members also to be aware of their genetic history,” she said.

Another student fellow, College sophomore Shayna Golkow, has launched a high school mentoring initiative called ATID. The program’s goal is to establish one-on-one relationships with juniors at University City High School. Volunteers will provide standardized test preparation and assist students with applying and selecting colleges and future careers, Golkow said.

“Hopefully these students who don’t always have someone helping them out anywhere else will benefit from having mentors on their side,” she added.

Currently, ATID has ten pairings, and ten more are in the process of being matched.

Other initiatives such as a family cooking workshop in West Philadelphia and a program that sends volunteers to a local emergency daycare and to a group home for pregnant teenage girls are still in their developmental stages.

“Ideally, all initiatives are ongoing,” said Greta Deerson, Penn’s Repair coordinator. The early start-up stage of Hillel’s relationship with Repair should serve as “an incubator for new ideas,” she said.

Penn Hillel is one of only seven campus partnerships with Repair. The organization also established partnerships at university Hillel communities at Tufts and Cornell Universities, the Universities of Maryland and Washington and the Universities of California Berkeley and Los Angeles.

PRESS RELEASE: Repair the World Named One of North America’s Most Innovative Jewish Nonprofits

Seventh Annual “Slingshot” Guidebook Names 50 Most Innovative Jewish Nonprofits in America

Repair the World, a national organization dedicated to making service a defining part of American Jewish life, has been named one of the nation’s 50 most innovative Jewish nonprofits in Slingshot ’11-‘12, a resource guide for Jewish innovation. To be listed in Slingshot, organizations are selected from among hundreds of nominees. Finalists are chosen based on their strength in four areas: innovation, impact, leadership, and organizational efficiency.

Slingshot is used by philanthropists, volunteers, not-for-profit executives, and program participants to identify path-finding and trailblazing organizations grappling with concerns in Jewish life such as identity, community, and tradition. Repair the World was chosen by a panel of 36 foundation professionals from across North America.

“Repair the World works to mobilize Jews of all ages and backgrounds to serve with integrity and to help ensure that we leave the world a better place,” explained Jon Rosenberg, Repair’s Chief Executive Officer. ““We’re focused not just on bringing more people into service, but also on making the service more meaningful with long-lasting results,” he said.

Since it was established in 2009, Repair the World has enabled nearly 5,000 young Jewish adults to participate in an immersive service program and nearly 1,000 young people to participate in service programs in Israel. Repair has also mobilized more than 26,000 volunteers to work for a total of 93,000 days in their communities; launched campus-based service projects at colleges and universities across the country; created college-based service-learning courses; worked with Jewish educators; and conducted landmark research into attitudes and behaviors about service among Jewish young adults, among other significant achievements.

“We’re thrilled to be listed among the extraordinary organizations selected for the Slingshot Guidebook. Not only does it affirm the value of our work, it exposes us to a vibrant community of potential partners and initiative to take our programming to the next level,” said Rosenberg.

According to Will Schneider, Executive Director of Slingshot, “Slingshot celebrates the relative peace and prosperity that Jews enjoy in the United States and Canada while highlighting those organizations that work to ensure that Jewish life isn’t left behind as the world moves forward. Slingshot ’11-’12 is an inspirational look at a Jewish community that is adapting to changing needs in Jewish life. We had more applications than ever this year, with a wider variety of missions. In order to be selected by our evaluators, innovations and their impact had to resonate more than ever.”

Inspired five years ago by Slingshot, a group of next-generation philanthropists launched the Slingshot Fund, a collective giving mechanism to support innovative Jewish life. In just five cycles, 55 members of the Slingshot Fund have contributed more than $1.8 million to innovative Jewish not-for-profits.

Jonathan Raiffe, the Chairman of Slingshot, shared, “The Slingshot guide makes a statement to the Jewish community and beyond that next gen funders embrace change, innovation, and evaluation when meeting the needs of our community. Slingshot promotes organizations that hold themselves accountable to all their stakeholders and up to the same scrutiny as for-profit organizations, while pushing the boundaries of how to solve the most pressing issues. Slingshot is about making a statement as to what we believe are the greatest needs and what organizations are doing the best job to fulfill those needs. Organizations that receive grants from Slingshot clearly identify an unmet need and offer proven models and solutions that can have a far-reaching impact.”

Slingshot ’11/’12 was released on October 18, 2011. The community will meet on March 14 in New York City at the annual Slingshot Day, where over 250 not-for-profit leaders, foundation professionals, and funders of all ages will engage in candid conversations about philanthropy and innovation.


What are the experts saying? “Volunteering + Values” Testimonials

Read what the leading figures in the secular and Jewish service world are saying about “Volunteering + Values: A Repair the World report on Jewish Young Adults”:

  • “Through my work as a public servant and community leader, I know my service has strengthened my personal commitment to tikkun olam — repairing the world. It gives me great pride to know that Jewish young adults of all backgrounds are so motivated to serve others in ways they find deeply meaningful and impactful.” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), U.S. Representative for Florida’s 20th Congressional District
  • “Repairing the World – tikkun olam – is an abiding Jewish value, and I am grateful not only for this report that proves that our young adults are dedicated to this value, but also for an organization like Repair the World that works at so many levels to help Jews make a real difference in their cities and communities – and around the world.” — Susan K. Stern, Appointee for Chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Chair of the New York State Commission on National and Community Service
  • “Repair the World’s strategies are not unlike Teach for America’s: through a term of service, inculcate a life-long commitment to positive social change. Recent research about TFA’s REALITY program for Jewish corps members demonstrated that connecting personal religious values and identity to one’s service not only strengthens connection to that identity; it also strengthens one’s commitment to serve in very powerful ways. I applaud Repair for its contributions to our understanding of this demographic and for its commitment to high-quality service as a shared goal.” — Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder of Teach For America
  • “‘Volunteering + Values’ represents an extraordinary contribution to the field of Jewish service learning and to the Jewish community as a whole. It lets us know more about Jewish young adults’ motivations to serve and it charts a path forward for our work as a community to make service an integral part of Jewish life and identity. We must take up the challenge that Jewish young adults don’t know about volunteer opportunities in the Jewish community, and we must ensure that the powerful values that inspire Jewish service are leveraged into a commitment to service in support of justice for all people everywhere. We at American Jewish World Service are thrilled to partner with Repair the World in support of this critical work.” — Ruth W. Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service
  • “It is thrilling to know that a significant majority of young Jews participate in volunteer activities. These young people have absorbed the best lessons of citizenship. They are dedicated to giving back to their community, to ensuring opportunity for everyone, and to creating a more just world. But as a Jewish community, we have failed to instill in many of these young people the knowledge that Judaism has much to say about what a just world might look like, and about how to go about creating such a world. We are the proud inheritors of thousands of years of tradition about giving tzedakah, eliminating inequality, and addressing difficult societal issues. As rabbis, educators, communal professionals, and lay leaders, we have a responsibility to help the next generation to access this wisdom, to feel pride in this rich heritage, and to look to Judaism to guide our involvement in the world.” — Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America
  • “This is a wonderful study. It shatters the stereotypic image that describes young men and women as an overly self involved generation who as a result of over use of social media are increasingly lacking social skills. It crystallizes most of the assumptions that are beginning to emerge i.e., young adults volunteer and desire to make a difference. They are their parents’ children most of whom were and are more attracted to secular and humanitarian causes and are less likely to be synagogue engaged. It stands to reason that children of an intermarriage, who up until recently have not been welcomed into the synagogue community, are less inclined to volunteering in the Jewish community. Most importantly, this study recognizes that men are less engaged and new strategies are called for to correct this volunteer imbalance.” — Rabbi Charles Simon, Author of Building a Successful Volunteer Culture, Director of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs
  • “This is a fascinating and important report, as it begins to peel back the layers of what it means to be engaged in the community, and specifically of what this means for Jewish young adults. I applaud Repair the World for an insightful examination of the challenges and opportunities facing the Jewish service movement. They have set the stage for important work that must be done by all of us if we are to help young adults become more fully engaged to truly make a difference in our local and global communities.” — Dan W. Butin, Dean of the School of Education at Merrimack College and author of the award-winning book Service-Learning in Theory and Practice: The Future of Community Engagement in Higher Education
  • “‘Volunteering + Values’ is a careful and insightful study of young Jewish Americans’ volunteering and service. For Jewish groups and leaders, it offers important practical guidance. The future of their organizations and communities depends on a generation whose members expect to serve but who define service in universalistic (not explicitly Jewish) terms and whose concern for domestic American poverty and social inequality far outweighs their interest in Jewish or Israeli issues. ‘Among the vast majority of Jewish young adults who say it does not matter if they volunteer with a Jewish or non-Jewish organization, the reasons they give for choosing any volunteer option center on whether the activity involves a cause or issue that is personally meaningful to them.’ Anyone who hopes to sustain organized Judaism in the United States needs to tap their idealism and their habits of service in ways that strengthen Jewish organizations and communities. Meanwhile, this portrait of young Jewish-Americans reinforces generalizations about American civil society, overall. A century ago, civic participation mostly meant fulfilling one’s duties to the groups to which one belonged by birth. Individuals were taught that they owed personal support to the religious denomination, town, political party, newspaper, ethnic group, state, and country of their parents. Congregations, schools, and universities often explicitly exhorted young people to honor the duties conferred on them by their inherited identities. Good citizens viewed their own contributions as part of grand narratives and ideologies. Beginning in the Progressive Era, however, critics emphasized freedom of personal choice and the responsibility to act in accordance with information and conscience for the public good. These critics won a whole series of concrete reforms, from the secularization of universities to the secret ballot. Today’s prevailing ideal is citizenship as informed choice, not inherited duty. The disadvantage arises when citizenship becomes episodic, superficial, and designed more to satisfy the one who serves than to address underlying injustice. “Volunteering + Values” provides some encouraging evidence of young Jewish Americans’ idealism and service, but also troubling indications that many are volunteering in ways that satisfy their preferences more than the demands of social justice. — Peter Levine, Director of Research and Director of CIRCLE (Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement) at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University
  • The new Repair the World study provides an important new window into the world of young Jewish adults and their commitments. At a time when, alas, academic institutions – both secondary and higher education – are increasingly arid expanses devoid of passion and commitment, volunteer opportunities may well be those places where young adults try on a mode of living that is noble and ennobling, a way of life that is idealistic and aspirational rather than cynical and materialistic. What we learn from this study is that most young adults are already finding their way to volunteering opportunities — but that much more can and should be done. It is refreshing, although not exactly surprising, to learn that young Jewish adults engage in volunteer work or other forms of civic activity at such high rates (78%). The challenge, then, is how to develop what is often a set of one-off acts of volunteering or a donation of money into a sustained and purposeful life of service, a life of service that is understood to be the enactment of the highest values of the Jewish tradition. The study also helps us to see that the mission and purpose of Repair the World is an important one, but a complicated one. Some may believe that Jewish service is the “next new thing,” i.e., that service is the antidote or silver bullet that will ensure ongoing Jewish involvement for those who are unaffiliated religiously and who have not participated in Jewish education in schools or camps. But this study raises questions about that simple “next new thing” conclusion, indicating that Jewish educational experience leads to volunteering under Jewish auspices but the absence of Jewish education does not. In fact, the population with less Jewish education tends not to associate the values of compassion and social justice with the Jewish tradition! Of course, this is not a reason to abandon efforts to provide meaningful Jewish service opportunities to the unaffiliated, those young adults who are not interested in or who have not had serious exposure to Jewish education. But it does highlight the challenge – first and foremost, an educational challenge – and it should warn us away from any simplistic conclusions about employing service as a mechanism for Jewish involvement of the currently unaffiliated.” — Jon A. Levisohn, Assistant Professor of Jewish Education and Assistant Academic Director of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University