The Jewish Social Justice Roundtable is excited to illuminate the stories and accomplishments of 19 young people ages 15 to 33 years old. They have inspired us with their diverse expressions of Judaism, commitment to service and desire to see the Jewish community grow. “I want to see a shift in the Jewish psyche. Service is a way to act Jewish, just like we understand prayer as a Jewish act, so is service,” says Anya Manning, 25.
“I’m the meshugena doctor who started this,” Dr. Stephen Kutner jokes good-naturedly, referring to Jewish Healthcare International (JHI), the nonprofit that the 76 year old ophthalmologist founded in 1999. Though he might humorously call himself “crazy,” he is serious about the work JHI does. The organization sends doctors and other medical professionals in all specialties into poor countries to provide services to patients and educate local health workers. For this enormous volunteer effort, Dr. Kutner was recognized by the Jewish Federations of the North America as one of the five finalists in the most recent Jewish Community Hero of the Year contest.
Yesterday in New Orleans, the winner of the second annual Jewish Community Heroes campaign was announced at the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America. And this year’s recipient of the $25,000 grant: Jay Feinberg from Boca Raton, Florida.
Hello, my name is Emma Epstein and I have just biked more than 400 miles from Washington DC to Cleveland to be with you tonight and celebrate Shabbat under the beautiful night sky, soon to be filled with stars. I didn’t realize this, but apparently, it is common for congregations in the warmer summer months to have Friday evening services outside. After thinking about it for a moment, I realized that having Shabbat services outside gives us the chance to welcome the stranger, allowing others to join in prayer and song. I love the idea of open doors when celebrating something like the coming of the Sabbath Bride.
I am honored to be here tonight, giving you the d’var torah and to tell you about my year of service with AVODAH, the Jewish Service Corps.
It’s that time of year again: 36 Under 36 time! Each year the New York Jewish Week profiles 36 Jewish visionaries and innovators under the age of 36.” In the words of the Jewish Week:
“We shine a spotlight on a new crop of three dozen forward-thinking young people who are helping reshape the Jewish community. They’re revitalizing established Jewish organizations by launching new models of young leadership programs, empowering micro-entrepreneurs here and in Israel, fostering new forms of spirituality, and raising our eco-consciousness. Welcome to the future.”
This year, more than half of the impressive bunch were people working on the front lines of service – a clear indication that service work is an integral part of the Jewish community today, and will be into the future. Check out the list’s service super stars below the jump, and find the whole list here.
Osher Perry probably does not sleep, or if he does he must be one heck of a multi-tasker. Service – to his home country of Israel, and to the people in it – has always been a priority for Perry. After 8 years of service in the Navy, he is now an MBA student at Tel Aviv University’s Soafer International Business school. This year, he organized a program called MBA Cares, which promotes ethical business practices and service amongst his fellow business students. And in his “spare time,” he is part of the Nets of Peace initiative, which looks to build economic opportunity for Palestinians in Gaza through aquaculture. Perry took a few minutes to speak about growing up in Gaza, the year he spent sailing around the world, and why peace must grow from the bottom up.
“Who, day and night, must scramble for a living / Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers? / And who has the right, as master of the house, / To have the final word at home?” – Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof
In 1967, a 43 year old actor and singer, Theodore Bikel, helped to immortalize the barrel-chested, booming-voiced character Tevye in the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof.
Bikel would go on to play the role more than 2,000 times – more than any other actor – but his career did not begin or end there. Born in Vienna in 1924, his family immigrated to then-Palestine after the Nazi’s occupied Austria (Bikel was 13). He started acting as a teenager, relocated to London to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and moved to America in 1954.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) is best known for a walk he took in Alabama on March 21, 1965. Linked arm and arm with civil rights leaders (including Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.), he became an iconic figure of Jewish social justice. Afterwards, he would write the famous words: “For many of us, the march from Selma to Montgomery was about protest and prayer. Legs are not lips and walking is not kneeling. And yet our legs uttered songs. Even without words, our march was worship. I felt my legs were praying.”