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Archive for : Featured

Shabbat Service: The Importance of Staking Ground

Shabbat Service is a weekly bit of Torah-inspired do-gooding, brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Read on to see how these ancient stories can apply today. Seem far fetched? Check it out:

The story: This week’s parsha (Torah portion), Chayei Sarah, opens with a brief mention of the death of Sarah (the matriarch) at age 127, and then is immediately followed by a much longer description of Abraham purchasing land from local citizens. They offer to give him the land as a gift, but he refuses – instead insisting that he pay for it in full. This week’s dvar tzedek author, Sarah Mulhern, asks the question “why is it so important to Abraham to purchase this land in precisely this way—at full price and in front of the entire community? And what is so crucial for us to learn from this process that the Torah sees fit to devote so many verses to it?

The “takeaway”: Mulhern writes that “we see that Abraham was a man of great foresight. He understood, as do…other indigenous and marginalized populations around the world, that land ownership is not something to be taken for granted.” Indigenous people all over the globe, particularly in developing countries, have to fight for their rights to the land they have often lived on for centuries. It can be a painstaking process, and the fight is not always successful – too often, big corporations are able to displace an entire people to fulfill their development goals.

The “to-do”: Support the work of organizations that are “doing crucial work to ensure that, like Abraham, people around the world today retain legal rights to their land.” American Jewish World Service partners with many of these organizations – like Il’laramatak Community Concerns in Kenya, which works with the Masai community. Find out more about their work at AJWS.

Read the full Torah commentary, on which this excerpt is based, over at AJWS’ website. And for more great texts, commentary and Jewish learning resources on social justice, check out the On 1 Foot database.

Set the Table for Global Hunger Shabbat, Nov 2 (Plus Get Interviewed for this Blog!)

Do you know where you’re having dinner on Friday, November 2nd? (Because, doesn’t everyone coordinate their Shabbat dinner plans two weeks in advance?) If you don’t have a firm plan yet, that’s great – seriously! – because now is the perfect time to start inviting people to your place for Global Hunger Shabbat.

Sponsored by Repair the World partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS), Global Hunger Shabbat is one of the core aspects of their Reverse Hunger campaign. All year round, Reverse Hunger aims to reform our country’s international food aid policy, create a fair food system that reflects our community’s values, and spark the Jewish voice for change by reforming the United States Farm Bill, which is up for renewal this year.

Global Hunger Shabbat is a weekend of nation-wide solidarity, learning and reflection around food justice. And it’s your opportunity to get involved in this super important work – to spread the word and take stock in the ways our tradition can inspire us to make a difference, while enjoying good friends and good food.

The fun all begins with dinner on November 2nd. Interested, but not sure how to plug in? Or do you want to attend or host a Shabbat dinner, but not sure where to start? AJWS has made it easy to get involved, providing educational materials to bring to the Shabbat table and resources linking food justice and Jewish global citizenship.

Click here to find a Global Hunger Shabbat meal with an open seat at the table near you. Or click here to access all the resources you need to plan and host an amazing, educational and empowering dinner.

Are you hosting or attending a Global Hunger Shabbat dinner? We want to interview you about it! Let us know in the comments below or email editor[@]

Today is International Day of the Girl – Join in!

Today is the UN’s International Day of the Girl, an awesome day dedicated to speaking out against gender bias and advocating for girls’ rights everywhere. While the need for a day focused on girls’ rights might not be immediately obvious, across the globe there are many issues that girls still face including:

Illiteracy – It’s estimated that by 2015, women will make up 64% of the world’s adult population who cannot read.
Forced marraige – One in seven girls in the developing world is married off before age 15.
Violence – In America, 54% of all rapes of females happen before the age of 18.
Body image – More than half of 3rd-5th graders in America worry about their appearance and 37% worry about weight.

Across the globe, people are standing up against these issues and celebrating the Day of the Girl by highlighting, discussing, and advancing girls’ lives and opportunities. Find out how you can join in on the movement here, plug into the Day of the Girl Virtual Summit, or join an official Day of the Girl event here.

Meanwhile, over at Repair the World, we thought we would celebrate by sharing some of our favorite girl and woman empowerment organizations. Check them out!

  • Moving Traditions: This organizations’ popular program Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing! has inspired more than 10,000 pre-teen and teenage girls across the country to join in the monthly celebration of the ancient New Moon holiday while building self-esteem, leadership skills, and Jewish identity.
  • Ma’yan: This non-profit and education incubator focuses a feminist lens on the cultural challenges and identity issues facing Jewish girls in contemporary society. Their research, programming and community events help participants grow into critical, curious, and committed global citizens.
  • Care: This humanitarian organization works to fight global poverty, placing a special focus on women.
  • Girls Inc.: The goal of this organization is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold. Their programs help girls navigate gender, economic and social barriers, while equipping them with the tools for health and success.
  • The Girl Effect This website focuses on the unique potential of the world’s 600,000 adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.
  • Smart Girls at the Party Led by awesome (and awesomely funny) smart girl Amy Poehler, this interactive social network empowers girls to change the world by being themselves.

Stamp Out Bullying on Unity Day, October 10

Do you know someone who has been bullied, or have you experienced bullying yourself? Chances are, the answer is yes. According to The Bully Project, a powerful documentary on the subject that came out in 2011, a staggering 13 million kids are likely to experience bullying in America this year. And reported that 160,000 students skip school every day – just to avoid being bullied.

Bully behavior ranges widely from physical intimidation or violence (pushing, shoving etc.), to verbal threats, rumor spreading, and put-downs about someone’s academic performance, weight, gender or sexual orientation – really anything that makes someone “different” than the perceived status quo.

Bullying happens in schools, after-school clubs, workplaces, and even at home. And with computers and smart phones becoming an increasingly important part of how we communicate, cyber-bulling (bullying via email, social media or texting) has added a whole new dimension to the problem. Whatever the specific form bullying takes, it tends to leave the victim feeling the same way: powerless and alone.

Fortunately, bullying – and particularly how to stop it – has gotten a lot of media attention lately. And today, people across the country are celebrating Unity Day – a day to unite against bullying and promote friendship, tolerance and self-esteem. Unity Day also offers the chance to get plugged into some organizations that are doing great work to fight bullying on the ground and help build kinder, more thoughtful schools and communities. Check them out:

  • BBYO: This Jewish Youth Leadership organization, which is committed to respect and inclusion of all teenagers, is the exclusive partner with the Bully Project in bringing the film and supportive curriculum and discussion guide to Jewish teen audiences across North America.
  • The Trevor Project: This organization works to prevent suicide (much of it related to bullying) within the LGBTQ community.
  • DoSomething: This organization’s Bully Text game lets people engage themselves and their friends in the issue of bullying, while potentially winning cool prizes.
  • Cartoon Network: This cable network naturally reaches a lot of kids – so how cool is it that they started an interactive anti-bullying website and resource hub?

How will you celebrate Unity Day? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us at @repairtheworld.

Join Caine’s Arcade’s Cardboard Challenge – October 6

File this under awesome! By now you’ve likely heard about Caine’s Arcade – the fantastically creative, all-cardboard video arcade built by an inspiring 9-year old kid named Caine in East Los Angeles. (If not, get up speed with this tear-inducing video.)

Now, on October 6 The Imagination Foundation is launching it’s first ever Global Cardboard Challenge – an international invitation to play while “raising funds to foster creativity and entrepreneurship in kids.” All September long, people organized awesome challenge events – more than 100 events in 25 countries – and now it’s time to play, building the most awesome stuff possible out of “cardboard, recycled materials, and imagination.”

Get involved with the Global Cardboard Challenge. Sign up to host or join a “play” event near you (event dates span the days before and after October 6, so if you observe Shabbat and can’t “play” on the official day, chances are, there’s still an event for you to participate in!) or donate to support the foundation.

Want to find out more? Watch the video below for all the details:

Shabbat Service: Teach Your Children Well

Shabbat Service is a weekly bit of Torah-inspired do-gooding, brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Read on to see how these ancient stories can apply today. Seem far fetched? Check it out:

The story: This week’s parsha (Torah portion), Ha’azinu, starts to bring the Torah’s five books to a close. The story ends with a plea from Moses to the Israelites to “teach the words with which I charge you upon your children, that they may observe faithfully all the terms of this teaching. For this is not a trivial thing for you: it is your very life; through it you shall long endure…”

Moses, it seems, is one of the Torah’s greatest champions of education. He’s specifically focused on making sure generations after him learn the lessons and commandments of the Torah. But taken more broadly, his words read like a plea for learning in general. After all, without education, how would we transmit ideas, morals, and wisdom from one generation to the next?

The “takeaway”: This week’s dvar tzedek author, Rabbi David Singer, takes Moses’ words in yet another direction. He writes, “We would be well-served to think seriously in this new year about the ways in which we educate ourselves and our children toward dedication to the pursuit of justice, and then offer holistic opportunities to put that learning into practice in communal life.” For Singer, Moses’ words invite educators – both Jewish and not, formal and informal – to think about the role that justice plays in their curricula. Holding a lone tikkun olam event or “mitzvah day” is not enough he writes. Instead, “We must also remember to educate…For social justice to become part of the Jewish fabric of the next generation, it must be a regular act and it must be integrated into and reinforced through education.”

The “to-do”: Support organizations that promote justice and philanthropic education – like Learning to Give or AJWS’s Where Do You Give tzedakah curriculum. And think about ways that you might be a champion of justice education and learning in your school or community.

Read the full Torah commentary, on which this excerpt is based, over at AJWS’ website. And for more great texts, commentary and Jewish learning resources on social justice, check out the On 1 Foot database.

An Abundance of Sukkot Service and Celebration Opportunities

There’s a Jewish tradition that you are supposed to begin building your sukkah (the temporary outdoor dwellings Jews build for the harvest holiday of Sukkot) right after Yom Kippur ends. You are literally meant to hammer the first nail into the sukkah frame directly after breaking the fast as a way of making a physical connection between the sacredness of the high holidays and the rest of the year.

Whether or not you are personally building a sukkah this year, we’ve rounded up a bunch of ways for you to celebrate Sukkot with service. And since today is the day after Yom Kippur, it’s the perfect time to “hammer in that first nail” – metaphorically, anyway! Scan the list below to find a meaningful Sukkot opportunity near you.

  • NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation: Sukkot is all about shelter, and this year, we’ve teamed up with NEXT to show you how to fight homelessness and help those in need. NEXT is also offering up to $200 toward materials to build your own Sukkah! For those urban dwellers or not yet homeowners, host a holiday meal and NEXT will help fund your groceries or take out order.
  • Shoresh: On October 7, the Canadian Jewish environmental organization is hosting a Sukkot celebration complete with a festive meal, learning and service activities at Bela Farm.
  • Urban Adamah: Join Repair the World grantee-partner, Urban Adamah on October 7 for their Eat, Pray, Lulav Sukkot Harvest Festival. Activities include live music, worm composting workshops, farm tours, face painting, and lots of delicious fresh food.
  • Hazon: On October 7, Hazon’s Colorado community is hosting a sukkah “bike hop.” Pedal on two wheels to different sukkahs, eating, learning and traveling in carbon-neutral style the whole way.
  • Jewish Farm School: On October 8, join Repair the World grantee-partner Jewish Farm School for their Sukkot Harvest Celebration. Eat a delicious organic lunch and glean crops on a farm that will be donated to the less fortunate. This event is being held in partnership with Food Day 2012.
  • UJA-Federation New York: From Oct 15-26, join UJA’s second-annual Care to Share initiative. Symbolically fulfill the Jewish custom of gleaning by donating a portion of your fresh CSA produce, food from your garden, or fresh produce you purchased to a local food pantry.

Find out more about Sukkot’s connections to service here. Did we miss any amazing Sukkot service opportunities? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us at @repairtheworld.