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Archive for : Education

Families Continue Commitment to Serve

By Kate Thomas

My last family service project before COVID-19 chaos fully took hold was a family Purim celebration at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST). Recently, Senior Rabbi at CBST, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, reflected on lessons from the 90s AIDS crisis that are relevant to today’s pandemic. After reading this article, I felt a combination of uncertainty, strength and a commitment to serve. Just a few short weeks ago, I watched families dress up in costumes and make colorful school supply kits for our partners at East Harlem Tutorial Program, while hamantaschen were served with gloves and tongs, no one knew yet how this pandemic would change future holiday gatherings. 

Now, this project feels like a poignant precursor to how Jewish communities are reacting during this challenging time. We’re still faced with the uncertainty of what’s to come, but we carry on a commitment to service. I hear leaders asking how they can help, folks donating to their local pantries, and families eager to implement service projects into their kids’ time at home. 

At Repair the World, we are nationally engaging volunteers in virtual volunteering and learning opportunities. While we won’t be in person for the foreseeable future, we are thinking of all of you, and especially the families and communities most impacted by this pandemic. For now, we invite you and your family to join us for the many Jewish acts of strength and service we have to share. 

In celebration of Earth Day (4/22), we invite families across the country to join Repair the World Harlem on Sunday April 26th at 11:30-12:30pm from the comfort of your own home for Playdates with a Purpose! We’ll learn how to take care of our planet and lead an at-home project geared toward 3-6 year olds (all siblings are welcome). We’ll feature amazing live music by Tkiya Music and sing songs celebrating the planet. Join by Zoom to play and learn at home, together! Generously made possible by PJ Library, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Register here to receive the link to join! 

While we don’t recommend children picking up trash outside at this time, here are some other safe and fun Earth Day actions you can do with your family! 

  • Make an art project out of recycled items
  • Plant and grow your own vegetables 
  • Make a bird feeder out of recycled items
  • Do a socially distanced nature walk and draw or take pictures along the way  
  • Create a spring garden sensory tub
  • Get a free digital edition of any Ranger Rick magazine
  • Donate to environmental justice organizations 
  • Advocate for better environmental initiatives locally and beyond
  • Find more Earth Day activities for kids here!

We hope your family is staying safe and hope to see you at an upcoming virtual project!

Kate Thomas is a Repair the World Fellowship Alumna and currently serves as the Family & Education Program Manager for Repair the World NYC.

Repair Interview: Rachel Sumekh of Swipe Out Hunger

Repair the World recently launched our High Holiday campaign, focused on advancing racial justice and building relationships between communities. There are many different ways to get involved (Learn about the root causes of racial injustice in America. Host or attend a Turn the Tables dinner. Take action in solidarity with our neighbors as a multiracial Jewish community.) – and we encourage you to explore them all.

Meanwhile, we will be introducing you to some of our favorite change makers. Here’s Rachel Sumekh, the Founding Executive Director of Swipe Out Hunger. Sumekh co-founded the organization – which lets students donate unused points from university meal plans to feed peers and community members facing hunger – during her sophomore year at UCLA. Today, Swipe Out Hunger exists on 23 campuses across the country, and is changing the conversation about poverty and food insecurity on college campuses. Read on…

What was the inspiration behind Swipe Out Hunger?
It started out because we were annoyed with the university for creating meal plans where students who had excess points at the end of a semester lost them. It began informally, with students going into dining halls and buying meals to go, then giving them to homeless and other food insecure people. But the university had some issues with this model. Fortunately, rather than stopping us, they said we should develop a new model. Today, if a student has extra meal swipes, they can opt into the Swipe Out Hunger program and convert that money into resources to help food insecure students.

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Repair Interview: Maria Fedore on Helping Teachers Help Refugee Students

This interview is being shared as part of #SupportforRefugees, Repair the World’s campaign focusing on the global refugee crisis.

Being a teacher is a heroic challenge, no matter who your students are or what you’re teaching. But imagine walking into a classroom where several, or even most, of your students come from refugee backgrounds. Knowing how to bring these students together and meet the needs of such a diverse classroom is an almost unimaginable task. But in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an organization called Tulsa Newcomer Services is working to make it a bit easier.

Through trainings, professional development, and ongoing support, TNS “empowers teachers to provide an excellent education to their culturally and linguistically diverse learners.” Repair the World recently spoke with Executive Director, Maria Fedore, to find out more about Tulsa’s refugee community and how she helps students – and teachers – thrive.

What was the inspiration behind Tulsa Newcomers Services?
Our inspiration is our students. In Tulsa, the population of refugees is large and continuing to grow. Many of the students have experienced long stays in refugee camps, have had limited access to education, lack language fluency, and have experienced discrimination in school settings. Meanwhile, all students deserve to have access to education and a chance to thrive. We recognized the importance of supporting teachers who are working with these culturally and linguistically diverse students, and aim to help them meet their unique needs.
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