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Archive for : Baltimore

Community Liberation through Farming

Last summer, Zohar, a Repair the World fellow, began working with the Cherry Hill Urban Community Garden, a local farm and service partner in Baltimore, Maryland. Working at a community garden was a new experience for Zohar. “Through the fellowship, we jumped right into the work of organized gardening and cleaning the surrounding areas,” said Zohar. They recalled the moment they met the farm steward at the garden for the first time. The farm steward asked, “Are you willing to dedicate your time towards fighting for the protection of Black land and food sovereignty?” As Zohar reflected on what calls them to serve, they said, “Yes. I really don’t see any other way.” 

It was at this moment that Zohar knew their next year as a Repair the World fellow would be like none other. Zohar has dedicated their service to food access equity ever since the start of the fellowship. “If we want to move forward with liberation for everyone through food equity and taking care of the earth, Black farming and food sovereignty need to be protected.” For Zohar the moment they met the farm steward is one they also think about often when reflecting on why they truly serve. “The work I do in my community is about solidarity, organizing with my neighbors to better protect one another, and building healthy communities.” 

This past year Zohar has committed their time to strengthening the work of farmers in the Baltimore area by showing up for Black farmers who are meaningfully transforming the food system by serving alongside them. “What motivates me is believing that tomorrow, we will be a step closer to liberation for all people. I wake up every morning thinking about what I can do today to make that happen.”  Zohar’s Judaism plays a significant role in their passion for uplifting community members, as someone who grew up witnessing Jewish organizers serving their communities everyday. “I look to my ancestors and those who came before me to guide me in my pursuit for a more just world.”

Zohar who spends most of their time at the garden and with other community food access organizations truly feels their values in action on Farm Crew Work Day when working with a farm crew, a cohort of volunteers who regularly serve at local farms and community gardens. A new initiative for Repair the World Baltimore, on Farm Crew Work Day, Zohar and other volunteers prepare seedling beds for growing during the year. Community members pay little to nothing to grow their own food. “This project directly aligns with my values. I believe that we should give financially when we’re able to and dedicate our time and labor when we are physically capable of doing so.”

Food access equity and combating lack of food resources can be an uphill battle that Zohar witnesses their community facing. “My experiences serving pushes me to reach into my Jewishness when progress feels far off and suffering is ongoing. Whatever community role I take on will be one where I am serving others.”

Zohar is a recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College, where they were a Middle Eastern Studies and Politics double major. They are a social justice educator, a Yiddishist, and a Jewish community leader. They have a passion for creating a collective imagining of eventual liberation and implementing practices of indisposability in everyday life. Zohar loves historical dramas, making bubble tea, and collecting patches and pins for their denim jacket.

Service Beyond a Singular Moment

In high school, Harry was an avid volunteer at a local therapeutic riding center. “I started volunteering at the riding center because I loved horses,” said Harry as he reflected on his earlier years of serving in his community. “I didn’t realize it then, but that time in my life would shift how I viewed service forever.” Now a Repair the World fellow in Baltimore, Harry reflects on that time as a pivotal moment in his life. “Working with children with disabilities in that capacity changed everything for me. It was then that I knew I wanted to be a part of something greater than myself.”

Moving to and working in the city of Baltimore during the pandemic has been a huge shift for Harry. He joined the Repair the World Fellowship with a deep drive to strengthen his Jewish values of service and to pursue justice through a Jewish lens. Harry has an immense passion for education and began volunteering virtually with the St. Francis Neighborhood Center in August 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. “It has been incredibly rewarding to be able to build curriculums to be used for the tutoring program beyond my time serving with the St. Francis Neighborhood Center. The work we’ve done over the last year ensures that the tutoring program is set up for success in the coming year.”

This past year, through his service as a fellow, Harry has further strengthened his connections with Judaism and his values. “Over the last year, I’ve been able to truly identify parts of who I am and make meaningful connections between my values. I’m seeing more and more how service plays an impactful role in how I engage with Judaism.” Harry reflected on how the MLK weekend of service presented his values through volunteering. “Engaging in the weekend of service highlighted one of my values, justice, as part of Judaism and how fighting for equity within the community is ongoing work that I want to continue to do.”   

Harry, alongside two other Baltimore fellows, has also been working on Stories From the People, a storytelling event highlighting LGBTQIA Jewish history. First hand account stories will be performed by people across generations and will identify particular decades and center on the understanding of a collective history in order to make sense of the present and future. “I’m really excited about this project and we’ve been working on it over the last year. This is an idea that came from one community member who attended a program we hosted during Pride last year and it’s amazing to see it grow and shape into a vehicle where marginalized communities can share their stories in the most authentic way.”

Harry plans to step back into the classroom as a paraeducator after completing the fellowship. “It’s important to me that service be something beyond a singular moment. During my fellowship, I’ve learned more about the failures of our education system, including lack of classroom resources and support for students’ mental health and it’s becoming clearer what my life’s path will be as I continue working towards education equity in this country. I’m eager to continue serving my community and pursuing justice, particularly in education.” 

Harry (he/him) is a Repair the World fellow serving in Baltimore, Maryland. As an undergrad, he spent a significant amount of time at Hillel and serving his community. Following both of these passions, he is excited to continue serving in the Jewish space while fighting for education equity in his community. 

She’s Got Next: 30 Women Who Are Shaping Baltimore’s Future

This article originally appeared in Baltimore Magazine on February 11th, 2021.

The idea of tikkun olam—repairing the world—has been Dressin’s message ever since she became an ordained rabbi nine years ago. First, as founder and director of Charm City Tribe, an initiative to engage young adults interested in Jewish culture, and now through her work at Repair the World Baltimore, which mobilizes Jews to take action to pursue a just world.

“Jewish tradition teaches . . . that there are things we can accomplish together we could not possibly accomplish on our own,” Dressin says. Building relationships that are substantive and not just transactional is so important in a hyper-segregated city like Baltimore, she says. “The particular callings and imperatives of Judaism require me to work closely with those who are not like me—who don’t share the same faith, or the same skin color, or the same history—but who share in the work to build a more whole and just world for all people.”

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A fellowship year like no other

This article originally appeared in the Baltimore Jewish Times on January 15th, 2021.

The fellowship model is unique in that we work for multiple organizations at once: Repair the World Baltimore, along with two nonprofit partners. I am placed with a couple of inspiring organizations building educational equity in West Baltimore, the Safe Alternative Foundation for Education in Franklin Square, and Promise Heights in Upton & Druid Heights. SAFE runs a middle school learning center, while Promise Heights is the lead organization for a group of community schools, connecting families to wraparound services. In a normal year, most of my work would be centered on volunteer recruitment. In this wildly abnormal year, I’ve instead turned into part-thought partner, outreach coordinator and program planner.

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Real Repairs

This article originally appeared in the Baltimore Jewish Times on May 29, 2019. 

By JT Staff

Volunteers from Repair the World Baltimore gathered at Real Food Farm’s Perlman Place site, coinciding with Repair the World’s national #MayWeRepair campaign, on May 19.

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Finding a balance: Service, advocacy, and the role of religion

The following post originally appeared on Medium as a blog post for the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies.

By Josh Sherman

In today’s world, I find it increasingly difficult to separate distinct parts of my life and put them in nicely partitioned boxes. At times, aspects of my life bleed into one another in a harmonious symphony and at times they seem to run up against one another and clash ferociously. Oftentimes I debate as to whether this is somewhat of a new phenomenon for the millennial generation or a reflection of the political times that we find ourselves in. I find comfort in believing that this is not a new struggle, and that for hundreds of years humans have searched to find their personal balance.

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A Jewish journey from indifference to inspiration

The following post originally appeared on Medium as a blog piece for the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies.

By Diana Goldsmith

When I was eighteen, right before I headed off to my freshman year of college, I announced to my parents that once I graduated, I planned to join the Peace Corps. I wanted to travel, to see parts of the world I had never seen before, and above all (my naive teenaged self thought), I wanted to help people.

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Community members clean up Baltimore area

This article originally appeared in the Johns Hopkins Newsletter on September 20, 2018.

By Jason Nyguyen 

Repair the World: Baltimore hosted its annual Day to Unite at the Baltimore Community ToolBank on Sept. 16. Community members worked together on various environmental projects.

According to their website, Repair the World inspires American Jews to give time and effort to serve those in need, aiming to make service a defining part of American-Jewish life.

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Tisha B’Av Through a Modern Lens

This article originally appeared in the Baltimore Jewish Times on July 20, 2018.

By Connor Graham

On July 15, the same Sunday morning as the World Cup Finals, a passionate and outspoken group of more than a dozen young Jewish adults gathered at the Moishe House in Canton for a program called “Brunch & Learn Tisha B’Av: Turning Tragedy into Action.” Tisha B’Av is the most mournful day on the Jewish calendar, commemorating the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem.

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Diana G. | Repair the World

This article originally appeared on Charm City Spotlight on May 22, 2018.

What brought you to Baltimore?
I grew up in Baltimore County. In 2016, I began working in the city, and I moved to Remington in the summer of 2017. I have loved every minute of it! I love spending time by the harbor, going to the numerous parks, and checking out new restaurants or hole-in-the-wall bars.

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