Archive for : Criminal Justice

Turn the Tables on MLK Day with Repair the World

“What is it America has failed to hear? …It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King’s heroic legacy of advancing civil and human rights in America lives on, even nearly 50 years after his death. But in recent months, whether in Ferguson, Missouri, Staten Island, New York, or countless other cities and towns across the country, there have been too many reminders that the work to ensure justice and freedom for all our country’s citizens is far from complete.

That is why this year, in honor of MLK Day, Repair the World is launching Turn the Tables – an initiative that promotes the principles at the center of Dr. King’s ideology, and works towards the promise of a more just society. The road ahead is long, so we must walk it together.

There are two ways to get involved over MLK Day weekend:

Host a Shabbat Supper
On January 16, turn your table into a forum for conversations about justice. Shabbat has traditionally been a sacred weekly time for Jews to gather with those closest to them. Repair the World invites everyone to use the Shabbat before MLK day as an opportunity to break bread and reflect on racial injustice issues that are on the minds of Americans following the tragic events in Ferguson, Staten Island and elsewhere.

Take Action
MLK Day is a nationally recognized Day of Service. On January 19, join thousands of Americans across the country in making our communities stronger and standing up to the challenges of racial inequality in meaningful and tangible ways. Sign up to make the commitment to make a difference for a cause you care about.

Learn more about Repair the World’s Turn the Tables initiative and get access to tons of resources for MLK Day and beyond.

Torah Tidbit: A Taste of This Week’s Portion – Vayera 5772

This Torah Tidbit is brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Check out the full dvar tzedek on which this excerpt is based at AJWS.

This week’s Torah portion, Vayera, is the stuff of Hollywood movies – an epic tale of right and wrong, and the story of one man fighting against the odds to stand up for what he believes in. Vayera recounts the story of Abraham (played here by a bedraggled George Clooney, naturally) trying to convince God not to destroy the people of Sodom and Gomorrah for their moral corruptness. In doing so, he puts his own relationship with God – not to mention his own life – on the line.

Read more from this week’s dvar tzedek author, Leil Leibovitz, below the jump – but be warned, there are some serious spoiler alerts in there.
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Davis Execution Cause for Reflection & Reform

Last night Troy Davis, a 42-year old man convicted of murdering police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah 22 years ago, was put to death by lethal injection in a Georgia prison.

It was a case heard, and protested, around the world by supporters including Pope Benedict XVI, Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu and former FBI Director William Sessions. Davis supporters believed that the evidence used to convict him was shaky since no murder weapon was found, there was no DNA evidence linking him to the scene, and seven of the nine original eyewitnesses recanted part or all of their original testimony. Davis maintained his innocence until the end.
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Citizenship Day Coming Up This Friday 9/17

This Friday night, September 17th, is Erev Yom Kippur – the start of the Jewish calendar’s most sacred day. But September 17th also marks another notable event: Citizenship Day.

Founded in 2004, Citizenship Day marks the anniversary of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. It’s history, however, stretches back a bit further. According to,

“The roots of Citizenship Day stretch much farther back beginning in 1940 when I am an American Day was initiated by Congress for the third Sunday in May. The day of September 17th was reached by citizens themselves. In 1952 Olga T. Weber of Ohio successfully convinced her municipality to name the date Constitution Day. The next year she went a step further and petitioned the Ohio government to celebrate the holiday statewide as Constitution Week from September 17-23 and the movement was soon passed.

Citizenship Day, which will celebrate its 14th year this year, gives all Americans an opportunity to express their pride in their citizenship and their country. And what better way to do that than with service? There are many ways you can get involved this Friday – from volunteering at a local retirement community or health center, to getting involved with a local campaign, or organizing a day of learning. And because of the timing, celebrating with service on Friday morning or afternoon is also a great lead into the spiritual services of Yom Kippur.

9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance

Last year, President Barack Obama amended the Patriot Day proclamation to make September 11th a nationally recognized day of service and remembrance. In the proclamation he wrote:

As we pay tribute to loved ones, friends, fellow citizens, and all who died, we reaffirm our commitment to the ideas and ideals that united Americans in the aftermath of the attacks… I call upon all Americans to join in service and honor the lives we lost, the heroes who responded in our hour of need, and the brave men and women in uniform who continue to protect our country at home and abroad…

Originated by the family members of those who lost loved ones on 9/11, the National Day of Service and Remembrance is an opportunity to salute the heroes of 9/11, recapture the spirit of unity and compassion that inspired our Nation following the attacks, and rededicate ourselves to sustained service to our communities.

In honor of the 9/11 day of service, people in towns and cities across the country are planning acts of service – large and small – to strengthen their communities and build stronger bonds with the issues and people they care about. The range of service projects being posted on includes everything from reading to kids in an after school program, to organizing food drives, donating blood, spending a day visiting elderly people in the hospital, and giving funds to cancer research organizations.

Find out how you can help to make 9/11 more than “just another day” by doing an act of service or adopting a local charity here.

Read President Obama’s full proclamation here.

Weekly Torah: Ki Tavo 5770

This post is part of a weekly series of Torah commentaries presented by the American Jewish World Service. It was contributed by Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster.

Taking time to celebrate our accomplishments allows us to see how far we have come and to plan with enthusiasm for the future. Parshat Ki Tavo envisions a time when the Israelites are living in the Promised Land and are experiencing the blessings of prosperity that they could only dream of during 40 years of wandering. The way that the Israelites appreciated and celebrated their harvest at that time provides a model for marking our accomplishments today, particularly the strides we make in repairing the world.

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NY Times Article on Young Lawyers Choosing Service

Many non-profits struggle with finding good lawyers to help them complete the legal work necessary to keep a world-changing organization up and running and fighting the good fit. Lawyers, after all, are costly – often too costly for smaller organizations to have one on staff. And finding solid pro bono legal help can be a challenge.

But a recent New York Times article reported how the financial crisis may help to steer a class of emerging lawyers away from more traditional (and high paying) firm jobs, towards careers in public service.

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Tuesday/Elul Link Roundup

As we enter into the month of Elul – the month leading up to the high holidays – self-reflection is on the brain. Did we live the past year in the way that we hoped? Where are we now, and where might we like to be in the coming year, personally, professionally, spiritually and inter-relationally?

Amichai Lau Lavie, founder of the organization Storahtelling thought up (and will be blogging daily over at about) the brilliant notion of pre-penting: “a 40-day self-reflection project, a journey/crash course/blog/conversation, off and online.” Check it out over at Jewcy, and to get your started in a reflective mindset for today, here are some service related stories and opportunities to get involved from around the blogosphere.


  • (JTA) The media has been buzzing lately about billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s commitment to give away vast amounts of their fortunes to charity, and their call to the world’s other uber-elite to do the same. JTA’s philanthropy blogger, The Fundermentalist looks at the dozens of Jewish millionaires and billionaires who took the pledge.
  • (Rocket Lance) An online job board for freelance computer developers takes a look at the company’s real impact – and decides to make some positive changes.
  • (Jewish Agency for Israel) A group of people from the Jewish Federation in Rhode Island travelled to Israel to meet the people behind the programs they support.
  • (Learn and Serve) An inspiring personal essay about choosing to do service-learning. (And an opportunity to share your own service-learning story.)
  • (Forward) A sweet and funny poem about the three Jewish Supreme Court Justices.


  • (Global Giving) Give financial support to the people impacted by the recent flooding in Pakistan. Just $15 will help provide a whole family with necessary personal hygiene supplies.

A Year in the Life: Avodah Fellow

Ever considered applying for a long term immersive service program, but wondered what exactly service fellows really do? The audio slideshows below capture a year in the life of two Avodah corps members: Diana Levy in New York and David Eber in New Orleans. Follow their experiences – living in the Avodah house with other Corps members, working on urban poverty issues, and connecting their personal and professional experiences to Jewish life. (Prepare to be inspired!)

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