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Archive for : Opportunities

Repair Interview: Elana Baurer and Avodah

Service has always been a part of Elana Baurer’s life – from her mother’s involvement with their synagogue’s social action committee, to her decision to major in African American studies at Wesleyan. But until recently, she always struggled to locate herself and her service work within a larger, like-minded community. Then she joined Avodah, the Jewish Service Corps – a year-long service fellowship that came with an instant community of 17 other people.

Bauer, whom Avodah helped to place for the year as a paralegal at the New York Legal Assistant Group, took the time to share her thoughts on serving communities in-need, the dangers of making assumptions, and how she hopes to bring the lessons she learned at Avodah with her next year.
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Repair Diary: Service in the Former Soviet Union with JDC

The following post was originally published on the American Joint Distribution Committee’s (JDC) website. Through JDC, hundreds of North American Jewish young adults have had the opportunity to travel abroad and engage in short-term service projects throughout the world. Participant Perry Teicher discovered how his short-term service experience and connections with JDC helped him connect to Jewish community while far from home, and deepen his experience later on as a Peace Corps volunteer. Read Perry’s story below, and check out other JDC short term service participants’ reflections here.
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Repair Interview: Lauren Weinberg and Adamah

Despite Jewish tradition’s rich agricultural history, the majority of Jews today would probably not feel comfortable operating a tractor or tending a field of crops. But a growing movement of Jews are beginning to connect back to their roots, both Jewishly and agriculturally.

One of the pioneers of this movement is Adamah – a Jewish farming fellowship housed at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut. Since 2003, the Adamah program has engaged 20-somethings in service of the land through a 3-month Jewish agricultural fellowship. Fellows split their time between planting and harvesting organic vegetables, making pickles and jam, tending their flock of goats and chickens, living and celebrating together in an intentional Jewish community, and learning with and from other leaders of the movement.
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Photo Journal: In the Forest with BINA and JNF

Just about every Jewish kid (and many non-Jewish kids too) has had a tree planted in their honor in Israel. Far fewer have ever actually seen said tree…or even visited a forest in Israel. But on a recent service trip with BINA and the Jewish National Fund (JNF), participants found themselves up close and personal with a bona fide Galilean grove.

BINA was founded in 1996 with the goal of being a “vibrant center [in Israel] for Jewish learning and Tikkun Olam.” Their programs for young adults include study, social action/justice work, and community leadership, including a 5-10 month program that engages 22-28 year olds in both service and Jewish learning. (Participants choose between a coexistence track and a community service track.) The organization also runs a secular yeshiva in Tel Aviv, along with a wide variety of other programs.
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Repair Interview: Eliza Parad and the Jewish Organizing Initiative (JOI)

Eliza Parad has social work in her blood. Literally everyone in her family – her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brother and even sister-in-law – are committed social workers. And while, like her family members Eliza graduated college with a deep commitment to social change, she found herself growing deeply frustrated with the model of direct advocacy.

This past year through a bit of “right place right time” luck, Eliza became a fellow at the Jewish Organizing Initiative (JOI), a Boston-based organization that runs a year-long fellowship that engages Jewish activists in their 20s-30s in fostering “community organizing as a strategy for social change.” Over the past year, the JOI experience has surprised Eliza in more ways than one, and enlivened her enthusiasm for both her work and Jewish life. Eliza took a moment to speak with me about the importance of building power in a community, finding strength in numbers, and her experience co-leading her family’s seder for the first time.
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In Their Own Words: AJWS Volunteers

Traveling abroad is incredibly rewarding, but it can be frustrating to figure out how to share the amazing, life-changing experiences one has during the trip with loved ones back home. Sure there are photographs, blogs and lengthy group emails, but nothing quite captures the experience like telling someone about it in one’s one voice.

This frustration holds true for any vacation, but feels especially powerful after a service trip. Not only has the participant experienced a new place – it’s culture and people – but they have also made deep, lasting connections with a community and, hopefully, made an impact on that community. More often than not, the participant is often significantly shaped by the experience as well.

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On Tap: National Volunteer Week (4/18-24)

Today is a big day in the world of service: the beginning of National Volunteer Week.

Sponsored by the Points of Light Institute, and running from now through April 24th, ordinary people across the country will be doing extraordinary things to transform their communities.

There are many official events happening in conjunction with National Volunteer Week (and you can learn more about the national movement and projects going on across the country here), but the real point is inspiring local change, home by home, block by block, and neighborhood by neighborhood. Painting a neighbor’s fence, canvassing for a cause you believe in, donating to a charitable organization, helping clean up your synagogue’s library, volunteering for a political candidate, planting a garden, reading to a new friend at a hospitable or home for the elderly, teaching a friend to compost (or learning how to yourself) – it all counts, and it all makes a big difference.

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On Tap: Global Youth Service Day (4/23)

Want to be part of the largest collective service event in the world, or know an amazing kid who does? Invite them to be a part of Global Youth Service Day, an annual campaign that mobilizes millions of youth around the world to improve their communities through a service and service-learning.

According to the organization’s website: “Established in 1988, GYSD…is now celebrated in over 100 countries. On GYSD, children and youth address the world’s most critical issues in partnership with families, schools, community and faith-based organizations, businesses, and governments. [They work with the] media and policy makers to promote and raise awareness of young people as assets and resources to their communities.”

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Tuesday Link Roundup

This past Sunday was Yom Hashoah, also called Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance day. In honor of the day, here are some interesting service and heroism bits from around the web, plus two opportunities to get involved.

Things to Read

  • (JTA) Rumor has it that two of the three leading candidates to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court are Jewish women.
  • (NYTimes) A touching article about a Haitian dancer who lost her leg in January’s earthquake highlights the importance of international charity in Haiti’s recovery.
  • (Mashable) For the first time ever, online journalists received an illustrious Pulitzer Prize for their work. The history-making stories included: a piece on ProPublica about “the urgent life-and-death decisions made by one hospital’s exhausted doctors when they were cut off by the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina,” and a series of editorial cartoons on
  • (NY Jewish Week) An article in the Jewish Week reports how many Holocaust survivors in NYC are living in poverty, and often fall below charity’s radar screens. The article also includes resources for survivors and places to donate.
  • (Joshua Venture) The Joshua Venture Group just announced their eight fellows, who will receive funding and support for their groundbreaking programs in social and environmental justice, community building, spirituality, education and the arts. Meet the fellows here.

Things to Do

  • (TED) The inspiring TED Conference, which is dedicated to convening the world’s most inspiring thinkers, is coming to Tel Aviv on April 26. The conference called “Thriving in Turmoil” will focus on the country’s catalysts for innovation and creativity. You can register to attend here (attendance is based on an application), or attend via simulcast here.
  • (Sparkseed) The non-profit organization dedicated to developing the next generation of social entrepreneurs is currently accepting applications for summer interns. Find out more and apply before April 30 here.

On Tap: Alternative Breaks with The Jewish Farm School

Calling all Jewish farmers, farmers-to-be, and food enthusiasts: The Jewish Farm School, in partnership with Hillel, is offering two sustainable agriculture-based alternative break programs this summer:

May 23-30: Urban Agriculture and Food Justice break in Philadelphia
June 15-22: Sustainable Agriculture break at Oz Farm in Northern, California

Since 2006, The Jewish Farm School has, “fostered opportunities for Jews to reconnect with the process of working the land and growing food…[while staying] rooted in justice and Jewish traditions.” They teach and speak about agriculture in communities across the country, run multi-day, land-based workshops on organic gardening, Jewish sustainability, permaculture, and food access, and organize alternative break programs that leave participants ecologically and Jewishly empowered and inspired.

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