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Archive for : Gender & Sexuality

DIY: Fighting homophobic bullying

Here’s what we’ve learned about gay teen suicides: it takes a village to make them happen, and also to make them stop. Yes, those kids who recently took their lives, in cities across the country, were particularly targeted by particular bullies. But both the bullies and their victims were caught up in systemic webs of hatred, ideology, and culture. Our rabbis, politicians, and community leaders are all responsible, as are all of us, for spreading the fundamental message that gay is not okay — a message that is lethal, and insidious.

The good news is that, since we’re all responsible, if you’re outraged and want to do something, there are a lot of things you can do.
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Repair Review: Do It Anyway

Save the cheerleader, save the world.

If only our task was as simple as the job of the characters on Heroes. If only we had just one person to save, one mission to complete and everything would be solved.

Unfortunately, many of us, when confronted with the world’s myriad of complex problems have become overwhelmed, paralyzed, and unsure of how to proceed and where we can have the greatest impact. And it’s this confusion that Courtney Martin (Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters) addresses in her newest book, Do It Anyway (Beacon Press, September 2010). She favors jettisoning the “save the world” and American dream rhetoric and replacing it with “a language that is still inspiring but also pragmatic- a language that we can use like a bridge over the chasm between what our parents and teachers told us about good deeds, about success, and about what the real world needs every day.”
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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.

AJWS Rabbinical Students’ Delegation Heading to Mexico in January

Are you a rabbinical student interested in service and exploring the connections between Jewish tradition and socail justice? This winter, you can put your passion into action with American Jewish World Service’s (AJWS) Rabbinical Students’ Delegation (RSD).

RSD is an annual trip that, for the last 10 years has brought a group of rabbinical students from across the religious spectrum for an 11-day trip of learning, service, cross-cultural exchange and community building. In past years the RSD has traveled to places like Ghana and El Salavador. This year’s delegation will head to Muchucuxcah, Mexico where they will be joined by scholar-in-residence Rabbi Danny Nevins, Pearl Resnick Dean of the The Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
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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.

Monday Morning Link Round Up

To help jump start your Monday morning, here are some interesting reads and opportunities for service from across the blogosphere. Have a look and have a great start to the week!



  • (Do Something) Between now and September 18, drop off school supplies to a nearby Staples store and will help get them donated to a student in need.
  • (Hazon) Good with your hands? Hazon’s Jewish Environmental Bike Ride – a fundraising ride that supports environmental causes – is looking for a few volunteer massage therapists to work with riders after a long day of cycling.

Service Thrives in Moishe Houses Across the Country

If you are in your 20s, Jewish and living in a city, Moishe House is a pretty sweet deal.

The organization sponsors houses that foster meaningful, pluralistic Jewish community for young Jewish leaders. House members live together (think the Real World, but with Shabbat candles) pay reduced rent and are given a monthly budget to create educational and social programming – everything from friday night dinner to book clubs and movie nights – for their surrounding community.

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Thursday Link Roundup

Looking for a little inspiring news as the weekend draws near? Look no further – here are some interesting service-related reads from around the web, and a couple opportunities to get involved!


  • (NY Jewish Week) Take a behind the scenes look at Eden Village Camp, a brand-new environmentally-focused summer camp for Jewish kids.
  • (NY Times) An uplifting piece from Times’ opinion columnist, Gail Collins, on why “the kids (or 20-somethings, rather) are alright.”
  • (Huffington Post) Rabbi Ari Hart, co-founder of the Orthodox social justice organization, Uri L’Tzedek on sustainability and Jewish tradition.
  • (NY Times) Micro-loans are typically associated with supporting small business owners in developing countries – but micro-financing also makes a big difference here in America.
  • (Haaretz) Dozens of Orthodox rabbis sign a “statement of principles,” encouraging the acceptance of LGBT-identified people within the Jewish community.


  • (Mashable) A new website encourages people to get a little “daring” with their fundraising. Try it out!
  • (The Jew & The Carrot) Check out a great new film pitch about Haiti’s agricultural crisis – then donate to help the film makers make it happen!

Influential Women Rabbis: In Service as Well as Congregations

Last month, Newsweek released it’s list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America. And as in other years, the list fell short in fully capturing the accomplishments of the country’s female rabbis. So the Forward took things into its own hands, releasing the Sisterhood 50, which focuses solely on 50 women rabbis in America (and 5 in Israel for good measure).

Just like the New York Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36 list, the Sisterhood 50 is chock full of women rabbis who are using their influence to inspire strong service-minded communities. Of course, becoming a rabbi is in itself a lifelong commitment to service, but these women are going above and beyond. Here are some of the highlights:
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Nelson Mandela Day Link Roundup

Yesterday was Nelson Mandela’s (the anti-apartheid activist, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and former President of South Africa) birthday. Communities across South African – and the world – celebrated by coming together for “Mandela Day,” an international day of public service. Events included peace building soccer tournaments and many community service projects. Mandela, now 92 years old, spent the day helping to plant a vegetable garden at an orphanage in Soweto.

In honor of this incredible day and inspiring person, here are some service-related posts from around the blogosphere and some opportunities for you to get involved. Read on!


  • (MADaboutART) In honor of Nelson Mandela Day, two Jewish artists raised more than $500 to support using the arts in HIV/AIDS education in South Africa.
  • (NY Jewish Week) The Bikkurim program, which serves as an incubator for innovative Jewish non-profits announced that it will support Yeshivat Maharat – the first Orthodox yeshiva to prepare women as community and spiritual leaders.
  • (Huffington Post) Melinda Gates writes about her trip to Mexico to learn about helping the country’s poor gain access to banks and other financial services. (Don’t miss the video!)
  • (Jerusalem Post) This article outlines how ROI is giving Jewish environmentalists the tools and support they need to make a real impact.


  • (Huffington Post) Watch an inspiring video that instructs viewers in how to save one of their community’s most precious resources: their library.
  • (WWO) Sign the pledge to spend the weekend of August 21-22 without using any oil or oil byproducts. As of now, almost 300 gallons of oil have been offset – help add to that total and find out the hidden places that oil shows up in everyday products.