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Archive for : Israel

REALITY Israel Webinar, Thursday 3/17

We are pleased to invite you to participate in a Repair the World/RepairLabs webinar on Thursday, March 17, at 2:00 PM Eastern, where we will be presenting the results of a new study about the impact of the REALITY Israel Experience for Teach For America corps members.

For the past two years, the REALITY Israel Experience has been bringing select Teach For America participants on a 10-day trip to explore Israel from a service and education perspective and connect their secular service work, as teachers, to their personal values and motivations for repairing the world. Has it worked?

Among other promising findings, the REALITY impact study found the program has:

  • Strengthened participants’ commitment to Teach For America’s mission;
  • Strengthened participants’ commitment to social justice; and
  • Strengthened the link between members’ Jewish identity and their passion for service.

During the webinar on Thursday, March 17, at 2:00 PM Eastern, we will explore the study in the context of a conversation about Jewish identity and the factors that drive a passion for service. Joining me on the call will be Adam Simon of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Michelle Culver from Teach For America. Both organizations were sponsors of the study, along with the Samberg Family Foundation and the Center for Leadership Initiatives.

I think you will find this discussion to be of interest and hope you will join us. To access the webinar please press ‘play’ on the video below.

Click over to our RepairLabs site to access all documents needed for the webinar.

Monday Link Roundup

Happy day after daylight savings – you must be tired. To help wake you up, here are some inspiring and powerful stories of service from around the web.

  • The situation in Japan post-last week’s earthquake and tsunami is still very grim, but help is starting to trickle in. On the Jewish aid front, JDC is continuing to collect emergency relief funds, and JTA reported that the Israeli humanitarian organization IsraAid dispatched a civilian search and rescue team to Japan.
  • Meanwhile, is helping to mobilize young volunteers to make and/or photograph 100,000 origami cranes as a symbol of “relief and healing to all who affected by this tragic natural disaster.”
  • The New York Jewish Week shared a story about young Jewish and Muslim leaders in New York City joining together in support of immigrant rights. In light of the recent tragic events in the West Bank, the need for glimpses of hope and cooperation like this become all the more important.
  • Rabbi Jill Jacobs published a compelling and personal essay on the Huffington Post about tomatoes, Trader Joe’s, and farm labor rights.
  • A profile published on GOOD introduces us to Josh Evans, an inspiring college student and member of the Yale Sustainable Food Project.

Weekly Torah: Parshat Pekudei 5771

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

The Israelites’ first building project—the Mishkan—is about to be completed. We can recognize similarities between its construction and the building of our own communal structures: raising the funds, enlisting a contractor and choosing design elements. And yet, though modern communal leaders often ceremonially lay the cornerstone—complete with the entertaining and tellingly odd juxtaposition of dress clothes, shovel and hard hat—they rarely actively participate in the physical construction.
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Repair Interview: Shoshana Wineburg and the Yahel Social Change Program

Yahel is a new and exciting addition to the world of Jewish service (and also a Repair the World grantee). Founded in 2009 by Dana Talmi, the organization is already making huge strides in promoting service in Israel. Their programs work to create a society where “people work side by side in order to bring about personal and social change.”

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Monday Link Round Up

Another weekend has passed and it’s time to plunge headlong into a full work week — no Federal holiday devoted to service to shorten this one down to four days. Here’s some inspiration to get you through. And for those of you reading this from the frozen tundra that is New York, here’s hoping that these stories culled from around the blogosphere warm your appendages in addition to your spirit.

  • A couple of weeks ago, Repair interviewed Rachel Ishofsky of Jewish Heart for Africa about the organization’s work, which involves bringing Israeli solar technology to power African villages. Now here’s a story about JHA’s impact in Uganda where their solar powered refrigerators have been used to store polio vaccines for more than 65,000 children. – The Jerusalem Post
  • Repair’s 2010-2011 Fellow, Perry Teicher has been writing about his Peace Corps experience in Kazakhstan, where he volunteered from 2007 until 2009. Part 3 of his wonderful series was published today. (Of course, you should also read parts 1 and 2.) – HandsOn Blog
  • First ever Israeli course that examines the connections between Judaism, justice and the environment has been launched. – eJewish Philanthropy
  • An interview with Ashoka’s Amy Clark about social change trends to watch out for in 2011. — Ashoka
  • Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando (JFS) is seeking new volunteers for their programs, which include hospice work, holiday meal delivery, and working with children. — Jewish Family Services
  • The fight for women’s rights continues in Israel as Yerushalmim, a social change organization founded by Jerusalem city council member Rachel Azaria, tries to reverse the trend of gender segregation in public spaces. — eJewish Philanthropy

Repair Interview: Rachel Ishofsky and Jewish Heart for Africa

Rachel Ishofsky, the associate executive director of Jewish Heart for Africa (JHA), an organization which brings sustainable Israeli technologies to African villages, has been involved in service since she was an undergrad living in Ghana for six months. There she taught English to over 100 students. “I’ve always been passionate about education, and ended up working with some friends from Ghana to form a grassroots nonprofit for street children to get them into the classroom,” she recalls. As gratifying as that experience was, Ishofsky wanted a different challenge, one that would allow her to integrate her work in Africa with her Jewish identity. As luck would have it, she met the Sivan Borowich Ya’ari, founder of JHA in a coffee shop nearly three years ago. “It was the perfect fit. We’ve been working together ever since.”

Ishofsky, 24, took a few minutes to answers a few questions about JHA’s mission, successes and plans for the future.
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Service in Pictures

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is perhaps best known for its international charitable work, bringing volunteers, supplies and services to foreign countries where Jews live, no matter how small the population may be in those parts. Their JDC Short-Term Service programs focus not on only those in need but on engaging the younger set – North American college students and young professionals — by sponsoring service trips all over the globe. They have sent missions to Morocco, Cuba and Haiti, just to name a few. But now, after all of this service work abroad, they’re finally coming to a (New York) City near you. At least their pictures are.

From now until January 26th, the Bronfman Center at NYU is hosting a photo exhibit called “Caution: Children at Play.” The pictures were culled from a short-term service trip to Tel Aviv’s Hatikvah neighborhood, which was run in conjunction with JDC’s Center for International Migration and Integration (CIMI). In June, 19 student volunteers from NYU, the New School, FIT and SVA traveled to Israel to work with children of parents who are refugees, asylum-seekers, and foreign workers from Sudan, Eritrea, Ghana, the Philippines, and other countries. Though in the late 90s, there were just 100 asylum seekers in Israel, that number has increased many times over and at present, they are over 22,000 such individuals.
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NextGen Playmakers

Israelis, both young and old, enjoy playing sports (They’ve even recently started playing American style football.) So it seems natural to use athletics not just to enhance physical fitness and mental well-being but to also engage and create the leaders of tomorrow through sports based youth development. In fact, many adults who grew up in the inner city point to their participation in team sports as the reason for their later academic and professional success.

Enter NexGen PlayMakers, a new venture from David Lasday, the Maryland native, basketball enthusiast and founder of Bring It In — Israel. NexGen PlayMakers matches middle school, high school, and college athletes with sports volunteering, coaching, and mentoring opportunities in their communities.
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Masa Israel Journey Leadership Mission

Last month, several different service and volunteer organizations, from the Peace Corps to City Year to Teach for America, congregated in Israel at the invitation of Masa Israel Journey, which is a program that connects Jewish young adults ages 18-30 to study and volunteer abroad, and offers grants and scholarships of $1,000-$7,500 for participants. The purpose of this meeting was to demonstrate to these pioneers of service learning in the States about the work that Masa, which runs over a 150 programs all over Israel, is doing and to collectively brainstorm for ways for all of the organizations to improve their leadership development and community service.
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Knee Deep in Jewish Diversity

This guest post was contributed by Shoshana Wineburg.

Last week, the six North Americans from the Yahel Social Change Program spent a weekend with eighteen Ethiopian-Israeli young adults from the NGO, Friends by Nature. Young adults from Yavne, Bet-Shemesh and Gedera (where the Yahel volunteers live) traveled up north to stay at Kibbutz Hannaton – a picturesque Kibbutz overlooking the lower Galilee. It is also the only Kibbutz in Israel affiliated with the Conservative Movement.

Also present that weekend were a variety of rabbinical students from Jerusalem’s Hebrew Union College and the Hartman Institute. A quick glance at the group revealed the idiosyncratic ways these American Jews had come to celebrate their Judaism: there were women wearing kippot and tzitzit and men who wore neither. There were women who led services and read Torah. There were lesbian and gay couples with adopted children.
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