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The State of Volunteering in North American Jewish Non-Profit Organizations

Repair the World is pleased to announce the results of its survey: The State of Volunteering in North American Jewish Organizations.

This is the first major assessment of the state of volunteering in the Jewish not-for-profit community. More than 200 Jewish not-for-profit organizations from across the country participated in this survey and these results establish important baselines for the field. The results also highlight opportunities for Jewish not-for-profits to make use of volunteering best practices.

The top-level findings generally support the hypothesis that volunteering programs provide more benefits for organizations that support them with intentionality and investment:

  1. The better a Jewish nonprofit organization supports its volunteers the more it benefits from them: Organizations that report increased use of the best practices for supporting volunteering find directly proportional benefits in capacity, impact and cost savings.
  2. Volunteer managers drive volunteer growth: Volunteer participation numbers are more directly  connected to having dedicated volunteer management than to any other variable, including even an organization’s size and its enthusiasm for volunteers.
  3. Training drives benefits: Having any kind of volunteer training program more than quadruples the benefit of volunteers through increased organizational capacity and impact.
  4. Jewish volunteers are tackling Education and Poverty Alleviation: Education and poverty alleviation are, by large margins, the most common social issues Jewish nonprofit organizations address through their volunteers.

Despite the strong correlation, however, between how organizations support their volunteers and how much value they get from them, the survey results illustrate that most organizations have a long way to go to achieve the additional capacity, impact and cost-savings volunteers could provide.

For Repair, these results boost our determination to provide the resources, tools and best practices to make Jewish volunteering easier, smarter and more impactful for individuals, organizations and communities.

We encourage you to take a close look at this report and use the findings to assess your organization’s current deployment of volunteers.

As always, we are eager to hear your ideas and thoughts!

Repairing the World in Baltimore

This post originally appeared on Baltimore Jewish Times on December 5, 2013

By Marc Shapiro

Although it was one of the coldest mornings of the year, the group of nine was all smiles. This lot, one of six current projects, was being beautified by Baltimore nonprofit Civic Works. While these projects are usually staffed by AmeriCorps volunteers, there were two new faces in the crowd, Benoit and Avi Sunshine, fellows from Repair the World.

The new organization, which aims to do exactly what its name implies, has nine young men and women, most of whom are recent college graduates, living in Baltimore working on various volunteer and service learning projects. The mission of the organization, in addition to providing “super volunteers” for various projects in the city, is to engage Jewish young adults in volunteerism through deep and meaningful experiences, and to make volunteering an indispensable part of their lives.

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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, 2012 – DetroitNation, 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, 2012 – Following 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.