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Archive for : Immigration

Weekly Torah: Dvarim 5770

This post is part of a weekly series of Torah commentaries presented by the American Jewish World Service. It was contributed by Guy Izhak Austrian.

Last January, like many Americans, I spent some time immersed in the controversy over Arizona’s new immigration law, which allows police to stop those they suspect of being illegal immigrants and to detain them if they are not carrying documentation.

A fierce national debate broke out: What kind of country were we becoming? I heard the debate as a competition between two internal narratives: either we are a nation of immigrants, and immigration is a healthy process ongoing in our day; or we are a nation of American-born citizens whose culture is repeatedly threatened by new waves of outsiders. Either way, many Americans saw the situation from a U.S. perspective and debated its impact solely on the United States. We were telling stories by, for, and about ourselves.
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Pursue’s New Blog Shines a Spotlight on Service

Justice justice, thou shalt pursue (Deut 16:20) – or at least, that’s how the folks at Pursue see things. Founded in 2006 as a partnership between two powerhouse Jewish service/social justice organizations, AJWS and AVODAH, the newly named Pursue has evolved into an online and on-the-ground initiative for young (20s-30s) Jewish change-makers.

Their programming – everything from founding a social justice book club and the popular Inside the Activist’s Studio series, to co-sponsoring innovative events like Love, Hate & the Jewish State – works to invigorate a new generation of Jewish leaders engaged in creating a more just world.

Pursue’s new blog, PursueAction is the online home for the conversations around Jewish life and social change. Over the next several months, Repair the World will feature a series of “Pursue profiles,” interviews with active Pursue participants who are doing world-repairing work. To get things started, here’s an interview with Nathaniel Berman, an inspiring young professional and committed volunteer.

Tell us what you’re doing right now.

I’m an attorney working at the U.S. Department of Labor. I’m also a Jeremiah Fellow, one of a cohort of 16 socially conscious Jewish individuals in the D.C. area who are in a nine-month course developing organizing skills, storytelling skills, and learning about affordable housing and immigration issues.
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July 4th Link Roundup

Yesterday, many Americans celebrated Independence Day by watching the fireworks, eating massive numbers of hot dogs (upwards of 150 million of them), spending time with family and friends, and sporting stylish combinations of red, white and blue. But as a wise person on Facebook once said, independence day should really be called “interdependence day” – a day where we celebrate our relationships with and responsibility to others as well as our freedom. In honor of the holiday, here are some inspiring service-related bits from around the blogosphere.


  • ( Volunteerism as the ultimate form of patriotism? Absolutely.
  • (Sustainablog) 29 ways to “declare independence from ‘normal'” and help change the world.
  • (NY Jewish Week) Read about mizrachi Jews’ struggle for equal rights in Israel.
  • (JTA) A combined Israeli-Palestinian soccer team plays on the sidelines of the World Cup in the Football for Hope Festival.
  • (NY Jewish Week) Young Jewish leaders push for a seat at the non-profit boardroom table.


  • (Jcarrot) Like fresh vegetables, building Jewish community, and small organic farms? Start (or join) a Hazon CSA in your community.
  • (ROI) Keep tabs on all of the happenings at this year’s ROI Summit, a conference for young Jewish leaders who are “empowering innovation, and creating a more vibrant Jewish community all over the world.” Check out the participant profiles, the summit schedule, the live blog – and more!

Weekly Torah: Parshat Sh’lach 5770

This post is part of a weekly series of Torah commentaries presented by the American Jewish World Service. It was contributed by Aviva Presser Aiden.

The Jewish people are approaching the culmination of the Exodus experience—the long-awaited fulfillment of the promise to the Patriarchs that their children would one day inherit the Land of Canaan. They are camped right at the border when the now-ominous words that open Parshat Shlach appear—“Send for yourself men to spy out the land of Canaan”—the beginning of the end for this generation. ((Bamidbar 13:2))
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Machshava Tova Narrows Israel’s Digital Gap

From Intel’s satellite empire, to the seemingly countless number of internet startups popping up each year, Israel is known for its techno-savvy. What fewer people know is that within this digitally gifted country exists a significant technological gap. Many lower income and otherwise marginalized individuals and families have unequal access to computers and computer training.

Since 2003, the organization Machshava Tova has worked to narrow this striking gap, and create a more equal technological (and therefore economic) playing field for all of Israel’s residents. Through their innovative programming, they reach more than 5,000 people each year – Jewish and Arab, secular to ultra-Orthodox, new immigrants and long-time residents – in cities across the country. CEO and co-founder, Daniel Weil, took the time to discuss Machshava Tova’s work and the importance of fostering a community of technologically-empowered citizens.
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Tuesday Link Roundup

In the week leading up to Passover, here are a few inspiring bits and stories from around the blogosphere…

  • SF Chronicle Vegetable gardens sprout around San Francisco – from the library to the police department, thanks to support and legislation from Mayor Gavin Newsome, and the work of many of the city residents and organizations who are determined to create a greener and healthier city.
  • Yes Magazine Rabbi Ted Falcon makes the connection between Passover and living a more conscious, aware, and free lives.
  • New York Times Sunday’s inspiring immigration rally on Washington draws tens of thousands of supporters and activists.
  • Huffington Post First Lady Michelle Obama makes a cartoon appearance on the Simpsons, standing up for high achieving students. “I got A’s back when A’s were hard to get,” she said. She also plugs organic gardening.
  • Jerusalem Post Hillel and City Year get a major shout out in the Jerusalem Post for their alternative spring break programs, and inspiring college kids to make a difference.
  • JTA Hear Sara Hurwitz talk in her own words about the growing role of women as spiritual leaders in the Orthodox movement. (See the video at the bottom of the post.)