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Archive for : Press Releases

2020 Pomegranate Prize Awarded to Five Emerging Jewish Educators at Virtual Symposium

This originally appeared on The Covenant Foundation’s website on October 19, 2020.

Mazel tov to Rabbi Jessy Dressin, Executive Director of Repair The World Baltimore, on receiving the #PomegranatePrize from The Covenant Foundation! The Pomegranate Prize is designed to honor emerging leaders who have been in the field of Jewish education for up to ten years. By encouraging Prize recipients in their pursuits, and enabling them to accelerate their professional development and amplify their impact on the field, The Covenant Foundation aims to nurture Pomegranate Prize recipients in an intentional way, and empower them to take risks and make a difference in the field of Jewish education.

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Gratz College Pledges Partnership and Support for Repair the World Fellows, Alumni, and Staff 

For Immediate Release

Contact: Zack Block, [email protected]

Gratz College Pledges Partnership and Support for Repair the World Fellows, Alumni, and Staff 

Philadelphia, PA — Repair the World, a National Jewish social justice service organization, and 125 year old Gratz College today announced a strategic partnership to support current fellows and alumni of Repair the World Communities fellowship and Repair the World staff who are accepted to any of Gratz College’s master’s degree or graduate certificate programs. 

Gratz College is excited about partnering with Repair the World to provide its fellows, alumni, and staff members with graduate degrees that will compliment their Repair the World experience, better preparing them to continue making impactful changes in their communities and beyond” said Debbie Aron, Director of Nonprofit Management programs at Gratz College. 

The Communities year-long fellowship program connects Jewish young adults with local opportunities to make a meaningful difference in their community. Philadelphia is one of seven cities where the program currently operates. As a result of this partnership, Repair fellows, alumni, and staff will receive:

  • Waived $50 application fee
  • Tuition reduction of at least 20% for all masters programs other than the Master of Education (M.Ed.) for the length of the degree.
    • Master of Education (M.Ed.) students will receive the discounted tuition rate received by Philadelphia School District educators.
  • Qualified applicants will be eligible for Midcareer Fellowships through an outside foundation. Currently, the qualifications are: 5 years since undergraduate degree, 3 years working in a Jewish organization, American citizen. The fellowships are currently available for the following programs: M.S. in Nonprofit Management, M.A. in Jewish Communal Service, M.A. in Jewish Professional Studies, Master of Education (M.Ed.) – Jewish Instructional Education concentration, and M.S. in Camp Administration & Leadership.
  • Consideration for additional merit-based aid based on the strength of the application for admission and submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

“I am grateful that Repair the World has formed a strategic partnership with Gratz College, a long standing institution formative to my own personal and professional growth” said Dani Horn, Program Director of Repair the World Philadelphia and 2011 Gratz Jewish Community High School Alumni. “Repair Fellows, alumni and staff can continue to expand their social justice learning in an environment that addresses evolving societal needs.” 

Gratz has grown from a Jewish teacher’s college in the 1890’s to a vibrant online graduate institution that addresses evolving societal needs by offering degree programs for educators and nonprofit professionals in the Jewish and secular communities. Programs include but are not limited to the M.S. in Nonprofit Management, M.A. in Jewish Communal Service, Master of Education (M.Ed.) and the newly formed M.A. in Human Rights.  Today Gratz’s reach extends to educating students in eight countries and thirty-eight states. 

More information about Repair the World’s university partnerships can be found by visiting https://werepair.org/universitypartnerships/. If you’re looking to volunteer virtually, please check out our opportunities on our website – https://werepair.org/volunteer.  If you’re for skilled virtual volunteering opportunities, please check out our website – https://repairtheworld.catchafire.org/volunteer-now.

Press Release: #ActNow and Serve with Others in Chicago Over MLK Weekend

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jason Edelstein, 510-239-1102

Local organizations partner to offer service and learning experiences throughout Chicagoland

Chicago, IL – Upcoming opportunities abound in Chicago for those looking to connect with and engage in service in celebration of MLK Weekend. In partnership with Silverstein Base Hillel, Mishkan Chicago, OneTable, Jewish United Fund (JUF), and many other partners, Repair the World Chicago is offering an array of experiences to address and highlight pressing local needs—including civic Shabbat dinners, expert talks on racial and economic justice, and volunteer opportunities—as part of its national #ActNow campaign.

“We’ve been on the ground in Chicago for about six-months building relationships with the people and organizations who best know this community and its needs,” says Melissa Schwarz, Program Coordinator for Repair the World Chicago. “We want to support and amplify our partners’ ongoing efforts to address local needs, and the dinners, talks, and service this MLK weekend show how important it is to develop these types of local relationships.”

On Friday, January 17, OneTable, JUF, and numerous other partners will kick off MLK weekend across Chicagoland with 10 simultaneous civic Shabbat dinners, bringing service and Jewish values to the Shabbat dinner table. These Shabbat dinners will foster conversation among young adults seeking meaningful dialogue about contemporary civil rights and social justice issues. Framing the conversation with Jewish values, the dinners will be grassroots-driven, intimate dining experiences that will inspire action. 

On MLK Day, Monday, January 20th, people can join Chicago Repair, Mishkan ChicagoJCUAAvodah, and Silverstein Base Hillel: Lincoln Park for the fourth annual MLK dinner and discussion. Tonika Lewis Johnson, a visual artist/ photographer from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, will discuss urban segregation and the nuance and richness of the black community. In addition, volunteers can play games and engage in activities for children at the Northwestern Settlement on the morning of MLK Day, organized by JUF’s Young Leadership Division.

“We want people to be inspired to act and to create change,” adds Schwarz. “We honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s enduring legacy and lifelong commitment to equity, by learning about the needs of and serving in solidarity with our neighbors.” 

Repair the World’s resources and facilitation guides related to Martin Luther King, Jr. and racial justice are available at go.werepair.org/mlk-day, as are listings of additional service opportunities nationally. 

Repair the World’s peer-to-peer model of engagement through service grounded in Jewish values is on the ground in nine different communities today. Repair works closely with local nonprofits to address urgent community needs, including food justice, education justice, criminal justice reform, housing needs, racial equity, and more. 

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Press Release: Repair the World Celebrates Ten Years of Making Meaningful Service and Building Bridges a Part of American Jewish Life

Event in Harlem Reflects on Impact and Kicks Off Opportunities to Serve Around the Country

NEW YORK, NY; October 23, 2019 — Hundreds of partners, supporters, and dedicated stakeholders who are passionate about the power of service celebrated Repair the World’s decade-long commitment to making meaningful service a part of American Jewish life last week. Emblematic of Repair’s roots in authentic service with local partners to address communities’ pressing needs, Repair is marking the occasion with #MoreThanService volunteer opportunities and community events throughout the country.

At the anniversary celebration in Harlem, which included a service project with the Community Kitchen and Pantry of West Harlem, Larry Brooks, Board Chair of Repair the World commented, “Our efforts depend on committed people that hold a shared vision–that service can be impactful across communities, meaningful to those involved, and powerful as a vehicle that strengthens relationships. Repair was founded to build a field of Jewish service, one that empowered individuals that seek to live their Jewish values in service to others. Today, we can look back with our partners and friends and see both how much we’ve accomplished and how much work there still is to do.”  

While Repair’s approach has evolved over ten years, what has never changed is the enthusiasm and energy of young adults to serve, learn, and make a difference in their communities, in partnership with those leading their local communities. Over ten years, Repair the World has impacted more than 1,750 Repair community partners, welcomed nearly 200 Repair Fellows and alumni, and engaged more than 160,500 participants. Repair the World has demonstrated that service, when done right, can amplify the impact of local service organizations and can be a meaningful way to engage in Jewish life and to build Jewish community.

Ruth Messinger, Social Justice Consultant and Global Justice Ambassador, AJWS, spoke at the celebration, remarking that everyone associated with Repair—its Fellows, community partners, staff, board, and funders—all played critical roles in making service a defining element of Jewish life. “Repair and its partners have helped to change the understanding that people have of Jewish life. Service is, in fact, the central way that so many of us live out and express our Jewishness–and Repair creates meaningful ways for us to do exactly that.”

Repair was founded in 2009 to make service a defining element of American Jewish life. In 2013, Repair began to engage directly with on the ground work in specific communities through its Repair Communities program, which placed cohorts of young adults in partnerships with trusted local service organizations and supported them in mobilizing and creating service experiences for other young adults. This peer-to-peer model, which is on the ground in nine different communities today, enables Repair Fellows and local staff to work closely with local nonprofits to address urgent community needs including food justice, education justice, criminal justice reform, housing needs, racial equity, and more.

“This year gives me an opportunity to build relationships with my Brooklyn neighbors, work with organizations tackling education justice, and engage young people in service work,” says Brenna Rosen, a Repair the World Fellow in Brooklyn. “I hope to finish my year as a Repair the World Fellow with an increased ability to make change in the world around me and amplify communities with change.”

Repair’s on-the-ground local community efforts are combined with its work building the field of Jewish service and its national partnerships with other organizations to support them in building meaningful and effective service into their work. At key moments in the year, Repair launches online campaigns as a way to galvanize an online community of changemakers. In the last year alone, Repair has reached 1.7 million individuals online through campaigns like MLK Day, encouraging individuals to #ActNow in solidarity with directly impacted communities, and through #ShareHerStory, an online campaign highlighting the untold stories of Jewish Women of Color in connection with the Jewish holiday of Purim. 

All of Repair’s initiatives and resources strive to empower people to engage in difficult conversations, to build deep and transformative relationships within and between their communities, and to translate those values into action through impactful service and learning. Especially in the Jewish community, a generation of young adults who increasingly connect their passion to create change with Jewish heritage and tradition are moved to live out their values through Repair the World. 

“When we talk to others, learn about their struggles, have our eyes opened to different life experiences, we begin to understand the work that needs to be done to make our communities more equitable and better places to live for all,” adds Cindy Greenberg, who recently was named Repair’s President and CEO, following 5 years as executive director of Repair the World New York. “Young people see the challenges in communities and want to be a part of the solution. I’m thrilled to continue Repair’s work with our partners and with our Fellows who envision the change they want—and then commit to making it happen.” 

Repair is grateful for its 10th anniversary sponsors and funders, including the Himan Brown Charitable Trust, Jim Joseph Foundation, PJ Library, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation,  Marcus Foundation, and Insperity.

To learn more about how to get involved and volunteer with Repair the World, visit weRepair.org/volunteer. 

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Repair the World Announces Cindy Greenberg as New President and CEO

Greenberg Served As Interim CEO Since March 2019,
Founded Repair the World NYC in 2014

New York – October 18, 2019 – Repair the World today announced Cindy Greenberg as the organization’s next President and CEO. Greenberg, who has served as Repair the World’s Interim President and CEO since March of 2019, is also the founder of Repair the World New York City. Repair the World will be celebrating this appointment at its Tenth Anniversary Celebration on Wednesday, October 23, in Harlem.

“Cindy has devoted her life to advancing the role of meaningful service in the American Jewish community and building genuine partnerships within communities nationwide. Her years of dedication and commitment to this cause make her the perfect leader for Repair the World,” said Larry Brooks, Board Chair of Repair the World. “I have worked closely with Cindy during my time as Board Chair and have been consistently impressed by her commitment to Repair, her passion for our mission and her dynamic leadership during a period of significant growth and transition for our organization. We are extremely fortunate to have such a uniquely qualified individual to lead Repair into the future.”

“I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to continue leading an organization so close to my heart, with an incredible staff devoted to the cause of service rooted in Jewish values,” said Greenberg. “During my time at Repair, we have engaged thousands of young adults in service opportunities to help drive social change in their communities. As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, I am excited to work with our staff, program leaders and volunteers across the country to build on the progress we have made together and secure a strong future for service in American Jewish life.”

Prior to assuming the role of Repair’s Interim President and CEO in March, Greenberg served as the founding executive director of Repair the World NYC, where she built a robust program focused on mobilizing the Jewish community to meet pressing local needs through service and learning in Central Brooklyn and Harlem. In four years, Repair the World NYC engaged more than 30,000 New Yorkers, mostly young adults, in meaningful service and learning with more than a dozen community partners focused on education equity, hunger and housing justice. Before joining Repair, Greenberg worked for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life for fifteen years, including as the executive director of NYU’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life. She is the recipient of several honors including the Schusterman Fellowship, the Shirley Chisholm Women of Excellence Award and the Harvest Heroes Award.

Greenberg’s selection is the culmination of a robust national search process by the Repair the World Board of Directors in partnership with an outside hiring firm.

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ABOUT REPAIR THE WORLD:
Established in 2009, Repair the World is a national nonprofit organization that mobilizes young adults to address pressing local issues through service, based in Jewish values, heritage and learning. Headquartered in New York City, we connect individuals with meaningful service opportunities in nine communities across the U.S., and train national partners to run effective programs rooted in Jewish values. For more information, visit weRepair.org.

Repair the World Atlanta to Connect Young Adults With Opportunities for Meaningful and Authentic Service

For Immediate Release

Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Family & Career Services Atlanta, Hands On Atlanta, and others will Partner with Repair the World Atlanta to Offer Opportunities to Create Social Impact Locally Infused with Jewish Values

Atlanta, GA – Atlanta’s community of young adults soon will have new opportunities to address key social issues and urgent community needs through meaningful service with a Jewish lens through nationally renowned Repair the World’s new Atlanta hub.  Repair the World—the only organization devoted exclusively to engaging Jewish young adults in service—is partnering with Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Family & Careers Services, and Hands On Atlanta to help launch Repair the World Atlanta in fall 2018.

“We’re excited by the warm invitation and welcome we’ve from Atlanta’s powerful volunteer and nonprofit sectors, and the leading organizations of the Jewish community,” said David Eisner, President & CEO of Repair the World. “Atlanta is rich with organizations with whom Repair the World Atlanta is eager to partner so that we can galvanize thousands of young Jewish adults to expand these partners’ capacity to achieve their mission and to accelerate local progress toward social equity in their communities.”   

Eisner announced that Lily Brent has been appointed the first Director of Repair the World Atlanta. “An organization that is engaging young adults at scale in deep and nuanced partnerships with organizations already doing exceptional work requires a unique leader, one  with insight into the passions of young adults, with strong connections to social equity work in Atlanta, and with the ability to forge many deep partnerships across the community.  Lily Brent has exactly that kind of leadership along with a unique background and experience creating the conditions for youth to reach their full potential in the US and abroad. It’s a delight to be following her lead as we launch this essential program in Atlanta.”

“As the founding Director for Repair the World Atlanta, I am thrilled to join other young adults in critical self-reflection, learning, volunteering with community partners, and strengthening alliances among diverse communities,” said Lily Brent, Director. “Atlanta’s history calls us to be bold as we grapple with the inequity.  Bringing together local nonprofits and committed young people, I know that Repair the World Atlanta will make a unique contribution.”

Lily will be joined by Site Development Fellow Rachel Bukowitz in leading a year of relationship building and programming, ranging from volunteer opportunities focusing on food and education justice, to Repair’s classic Turn the Tables Shabbat dinners and Cocktails with a Conscience series where conversations are opened up between community members about social issues, activism, and action. Repair the World Atlanta will bring together Repair’s proven programming with Lily’s skillset and Atlanta’s great nonprofits and community spirit.

“We are thrilled to be an early partner of Repair the World Atlanta,” says Jay Cranman, CEO of Hands On Atlanta.  “Together, we will engage even more young people who are committed to creating positive change in our community. This is an exciting moment for our city.”

“We are so excited to welcome Repair the World to Atlanta,” says Eric M. Robbins, President & CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. “Our Atlanta Jewish community has a long history of service and we are honored to be the home to the national service movement in the Points of Light Foundation. With Repair the World’s proven model and track record in other communities, we know it will thrive here in Atlanta and provide a way for millennials to engage in service that matters in a way that aligns with our Jewish values.”

Repair the World Atlanta will join its sister Repair the World Communities programs in Baltimore, Brooklyn, Detroit, Harlem, Miami, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, bringing a unique combination of peer-to-peer engagement, educational programs and community-based service opportunities to thousands of young Jewish adults and their friends.  

About Our Team – Repair the World Atlanta

Lily Brent (Director) is a writer and social worker whose curiosity and commitment to service catalyzed a career in international development spanning six countries over the last eight years. Her search for the nuanced, everyday work of community-led social justice has brought her to Repair the World. In her previous professional experience, she  provided psychosocial support to adolescents in such diverse settings as a New York City public school and outpatient psychiatric clinic, a D.C. mentoring program for kids in foster care, and the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda. She has worked on adolescent sexual & reproductive health & rights in Niger and Bangladesh, and ensuring that women and youth can access the benefits of development projects in Benin, Mongolia, and Nepal. Lily also spent three years working to reform criminal justice policy and practice in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Virginia.

 

Rachel Bukowitz (Site Development Fellow) studied Environmental Studies and Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. During her undergraduate studies she worked with a local nonprofit, The Homewood Children’s Village, to develop a 33-page “Healthy Food and Gardening Guide” for Homewood residents. Homewood is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh without a grocery store, so the guide served to highlight alternative options for accessing healthy, affordable food including community gardens, food banks, farm stands, farmers markets, and more. After graduating from Pitt, Rachel served as a Food Justice Fellow with Repair the World Pittsburgh. In her Fellowship, Rachel worked with 412 Food Rescue, Just Harvest, and Circles Greater Pittsburgh around issues of food advocacy and poverty. She dedicated herself to service and deeply learning about the systemic root causes of poverty and hunger.

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Repair the World: Philadelphia Welcomes Rachel Berger as New Executive Director

Philly Native Returns Home to Lead Jewish Service Organization and Work with Local Non-profits

Philadelphia, PA – Repair the World: Philadelphia, the local workshop of the largest Jewish service organization in the country, Repair the World, welcomed Rachel Berger as its new Executive Director. Rachel will work closely with Program Manager, Dani Horn; Workshop Coordinator, Kari Collins and Repair the World Fellows in Philadelphia who engage peers and work with local non-profits addressing food justice, education justice, and other social service needs.

“I am thrilled to return to my hometown of Philadelphia and to join an organization that taps into my passions of social justice and service alongside community building” says Rachel Berger, Executive Director of Repair the World: Philadelphia. “The Fellows here are deeply committed to serving with our partners in West Philly, Center City, and the Greater Philadelphia Area. I’m really looking forward to joining their efforts with the many organizations in Philly that make our work impactful and meaningful.”

Rachel has dedicated her career to building Jewish organizations that serve the underserved, advance justice, and deepen the connections between Jewish communities and their neighbors. She previously worked as the Director of Community Engagement at Footsteps, which supports and affirms those making the transition from ultra-Orthodox communities to the secular world. Rachel oversaw Footsteps’ community building and leadership programs, large scale public events, and foundation relations.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Rachel completed her BA in Fine Art at Yeshiva University and her MSW at Columbia University. In 2011-12 Rachel was a Dorot Fellow and is a current Wexner Field Fellow (Class 1). She recently moved back to Philadelphia with her family and is looking forward to returning to her roots.

“Repair the World: Philadelphia is fortunate to have someone with Rachel’s experience, passion, and hometown connection leading its efforts,” adds Adina Mermelstein Konikoff, Senior Program Director for Repair the World. “She will elevate the work and community relationships of our Fellows and will continue to make Philadelphia a model city for Repair’s Communities program.”

Repair the World’s Communities’ year-long Fellowship program connects Jewish young adults with local opportunities to make a meaningful difference in their community. Philadelphia, with eight fellows on the ground this year, is one of seven cities where the program operates. You can volunteer with Repair the World: Philadelphia next Tuesday, March 27th from 4:00-7:00 pm in an effort to #RockTheVote.

Philadelphia residents and neighbors can meet Rachel Berger in person at a welcome event with light snacks and refreshments on April 16th, 2018 at 6:00pm at the Repair the World: Philadelphia Workshop at 4029 Market Street.

Additionally, in advance of Passover, Repair the World: Philadelphia and HIAS Pennsylvania are hosting Immigration Stories: A Passover-Inspired Shabbat this Friday, March 23rd at 6:30 PM. Inspired by the Passover narrative, the event will explore past and present immigration stories in varying faith traditions. Guests will hear from local advocates doing important immigration and refugee resettlement work in Philadelphia.

Nationally, Repair the Word is teaming up with Be’chol Lashon to offer specially designed seder supplements this Passover (weRepair.org/Passover). The materials, part of the Passover campaign, #MemoryToAction, encourage seder participants to engage in meaningful, sometimes difficult conversations about how we talk about individual and systemic struggles for freedom in the context of the Passover story.

 

Be’chol Lashon and Repair the World Create New Passover Seder Supplements to Connect Biblical Exodus Story to Modern Struggles for Freedom

New York, NY — To spark conversations connecting the ancient Passover Exodus story to modern struggles for freedom, Be’chol Lashon and Repair the Word are teaming up to offer specially designed seder supplements this Passover (werepair.org/passover). The materials, part of the Passover campaign, #MemoryToAction, encourage seder participants to engage in meaningful, sometimes difficult conversations about how we talk about individual and systemic struggles for freedom in the context of the Passover story.

“Jews are more diverse than many realize,” says Diane Tobin, CEO of Be’chol Lashon, which advocates for the ethnic and racial ​diversity of the Jewish people. “We focus on unique expressions of Passover around the world, while coming together over the universal Jewish story of Exodus. Our goal is to spark conversations, connecting the journey from slavery to freedom to the ongoing fight for racial justice.”

The Haggadah insert, with artwork from illustrator Shane W. Evans, is framed around the seder passage Avadmin Hayinu, Hebrew for “we were slaves.” The resource asks each participant to consider what it means to begin retelling the story of Exodus with the words, “we were slaves,” and leads one to explore today’s “fight for freedom on interpersonal, systemic, global and local levels” through the lens of the seder.

Print-at-home Trivia Place Cards offer a fun, interactive way to celebrate Passover rituals and traditions from diverse Jewish communities while also amplifying the multiplicity of identities and experiences within the American Jewish community. Trivia questions include, “Why do Jews from Gibraltar sprinkle a little bit of brick dust into their charoset?” Answer: “To remind them of the bricks that the Israelite slaves were forced to make.”

People not hosting their own seders, but who still want to use these resources at the seder’s they attend, can sign up to have the resources sent directly to their seder host at weRepair.org/Passover. Others looking to connect Passover with volunteer service, to bring #MemoryToAction, can search for volunteer opportunities at weRepair.org/Volunteer.

Repair the World’s ten-month call for young people to Act Now has included the 2017 High Holidays (Act Now for a Different Kind of Service), Thanksgiving (Act Now Against Hunger), MLK Day (Act Now for Racial Justice); Purim (# ShareHerStory), and concludes with the Jewish holiday of Passover. Repair the World has found that during special times in the calendar people are looking to root their celebration in issues that they care about. Over 223,000 people participated in the digital Purim campaign and nearly 10,000 people participated in service experiences as part of MLK Day’s Act Now for Racial Justice.

“Right now, people across the country, specifically young people, are looking for ways to engage their friends, families, and neighbors in conversations about what matters most to them,” says Laura Belinfante of Repair the World, the largest Jewish service organization in the country. “Holidays, specifically Jewish holidays, are the perfect time to open up conversations about social issues with loved ones. We are excited to see people apply learnings from our history towards action today.”

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#ShareHerStory from Jewish Multiracial Network, Jewish Women’s Archive, and Repair the World, to Spotlight Jewish Women of Color, Mizrahi, and Sephardi Women

New York, NY – Whether fighting hunger, leading spiritual communities, producing Jewish gospel music, or even saving the Jewish People millennia ago, Jewish women of color, Mizrahi, and Sephardi women have for centuries been leaders, teachers, storytellers, and changemakers in the Jewish community. But all too often, Jewish holidays, narratives, and spaces, fail to celebrate and amplify these critical stories. Inspired by the Jewish holiday of Purim, the new campaign #ShareHerStory from the Jewish Multiracial Network, Jewish Women’s Archive, and Repair the World, shares the stories of modern Jewish women of color, Mizrahi, and Sephardi women who are creating a more inclusive and just Jewish community and society in a multitude of ways. Short, easy-to-share vignettes tell the stories of these powerful Jewish leaders. Access the stories at weRepair.org/Purim.  

“What could have easily been another forgotten moment in history has become a festival of celebration for one reason only: Jews persisted in telling her story for generations,” says Tamara Fish, president of the Jewish Multiracial Network. “The fact that we mark Purim as a holiday is a testament to the power of storytelling. We can learn a lot from this! So in the spirit of Esther, we are ringing out loud the stories of risk-taking and groundbreaking Jewish women of color, together with Sephardi and Mizrahi women, who deserve to be remembered in history.”

#ShareHerStory is the first time Repair the World, the largest Jewish service organization in the country, has included Purim in its ongoing social justice campaigns. Purim is an incredible opportunity for collaboration between the Jewish Multiracial Network, an organization which advances Jewish diversity through empowerment and community building with Jews of Color and Jewish multiracial families, the Jewish Women’s Archive, an organization which documents Jewish women’s stories, elevates their voices, and inspires them to be agents of change, and Repair the World, the leading service organization engaging millennials in year round conversations about social justice. Purim recounts the tale of Esther, a Persian Jewish woman, whispering words in a king’s ear and ultimately risking her life and her autonomy to save others.

“Purim is a holiday that teaches us about the power of women’s stories to make change,” says Judith Rosenbaum of the Jewish Women’s Archive. “But these stories can only have an impact if we remember them, and too often, women’s stories are left out of the narrative. This Purim, we will celebrate the holiday by sharing the compelling and inspiring stories of Jewish Women of Color, Mizrahi, and Sephardi women who have made—and are making—their mark on history.”

“For hundreds of years, women, people of color, especially women of color, and other marginalized communities have mobilized to fight persistent challenges that face our society. Finally, mainstream institutions and media have started to catch up with those movements. Together, we can act now to amplify their stories,” added Laura Belinfante, Director of Digital Campaigns, Repair the World.

Repair the World’s ten-month call for young adults to Act Now has included the 2017 High Holidays (Act Now for a Different Kind of Service), Thanksgiving (Act Now Against Hunger), MLK Day (Act Now for Racial Justice); and, after #ShareHerStory, will conclude with the Jewish holiday of Passover. Repair the World has found that connecting urgent needs to address specific issues with specific moments in the calendar can increase mobilization, as people look to connect their celebration of a holiday with what they care about. Nearly 10,000 people participated in service experiences as part of MLK Day’s Act Now for Racial Justice.

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Ongoing Urgency to Aid Houston Recovery Prompts #ActNowHouston

For Immediate Release
February 6, 2018

Ongoing Urgency to Aid Houston Recovery Prompts #ActNowHouston
Leadership Coalition for Jewish Service issues call with Jewish Federation of Greater Houston

Initiative builds pipeline for hundreds of groups, thousands of individuals, to sign up from
Synagogues, Schools, Youth Groups, Community Centers, Federations, more

TO SIGN UP A GROUP: GO NOW TO werepair.org/act-now-houston
No Cost for Group Service Programs; Limited Funds Available to Defray Group Travel Expenses

Washington, DC — A new coalition of national Jewish organizations, including BBYO, Hillel International, JDC Entwine, Moishe House, OneTable, Repair the World and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, has issued a call to Jewish community organizations across the U.S. to send groups to support the still-urgent recovery needs in Houston following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey five months ago.

The Leadership Coalition for Jewish Service has partnered with the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston on #ActNowHouston, placing recruited volunteer groups within ongoing recovery work coordinated by on-the-ground national and local agencies.  #ActNowHouston organizers expect the thousands of mobilized volunteers will aid some of the most vulnerable and underserved communities in the city.

“The need for recovery support remains massive, and Hillel is committed to working with our partners to mobilize the national Jewish community to meet needs across Houston’s Jewish and larger community.  It is a key part of our commitment to engaging students in tikkun olam,” says Eric D. Fingerhut, President and CEO of Hillel International, a Coalition partner.

Hurricane Harvey dumped more than four feet of rain on Houston over four days in August. The devastation resulted in nearly 200,000 homes flooded, including more than 2,000 of Houston’s 26,000 Jewish households, and the closure of entire residential and commercial sectors of the city. Now, the ongoing and emotional strain is mounting for the thousands of Houston families that remain in temporary housing and nonprofit organizations either shut down or operating under severe constraints.

Avital Ingber, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, said, “Hurricane Harvey brought unprecedented destruction to Houston, and the Jewish community was hit especially hard. The solidarity and partnership we have experienced with Jewish organizations across the country has been energizing and revitalizing. While full recovery is expected to take years, our partnership with Act Now Houston expedites this critical work.”

Since the Hurricane struck in August, hundreds of volunteers from Jewish communities across the country have self-mobilized and headed to Houston to offer their service.  Organizers expect #ActNowHouston will help extend national awareness of the tremendous need in Houston and lower the costs and difficulty of serving, thereby bolstering the numbers of volunteer groups able to serve.

Matt Grossman, CEO of BBYO, said, “We know young Jews across the country are passionate about taking into their own hands the challenge of meeting important needs in our society.  The power of our community can be seen in our collective ability to provide opportunities for hundreds of groups and thousands of volunteers to serve that passion in Houston.”

Volunteer groups will help remove damaged household items and sanitize homes; package food and deliver essentials to the elderly or homebound; work with individuals coping with ongoing hardship; assist local residents in navigating available resources; and help families get back on their feet through the rebuilding process.  Coalition partners, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and local Houston Jewish organizations and educators will ensure that each group connects with customized, high-quality contextual education about the impact of Harvey and the Jewish values that are driving the work.

Program Manager Sacha Bodner, a Repair the World staff member, works in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston to coordinate Houston’s Jewish service efforts.  Bodner shared his thoughts on the importance of the program. “We have amazing local nonprofit and disaster response organizations on the ground who understand the ongoing needs.  They are working diligently to make sure the visiting service groups and local volunteers have the opportunity to make a real impact for Houston. We know that additional groups are needed – and, working together, the Coalition, the Federation and our local community will ensure that the Houston experience is deep and meaningful for every group.”

Additional Quotes

David Cygielman, CEO of Moishe House, a partner in the Coalition, said, “When Jewish young adults come together as friends and neighbors, some of the things they speak most about are how they might make a difference and whether they might take important actions together. Act Now Houston represents an important opportunity for our young people to come together in their own, self-organized group to address an important challenge.  I’m excited to learn from the results and to do even more.”

Sarah Eisenman, Executive Director of JDC Entwine, a partner in the Coalition, said, “The thousands of alumni of our Jewish community’s immersive service programs, both globally and domestically, represent an untapped power for good –in cities across the U.S.  They are trained, passionate and experienced in Jewish service. It will be inspiring to see them meaningfully engaged with Act Now Houston and other opportunities the Coalition will put forward.”

Aliza Kline, Executive Director of OneTable, a partner in the Coalition, said, “Around thousands of Shabbat tables in hundreds of communities, young adults come together to discuss what’s important to them and what they want to do about it.  We’re thrilled to help with this effort with Shabbat dinner resources for the young adults mobilizing for this initiative.  Together, we will nourish those conversations over dinner in the heart of this action.” 

David Eisner, CEO of Repair the World, a partner in the Coalition, said, “The hardest part of making service meaningful is both to ensure it is meeting urgent needs identified by the community with which you’re serving, and, at the same time, to create for the volunteer a great and educational experience that connects with the local community.  That’s exactly what organizations can expect when they send groups with Act Now Houston.

About the Coalition 

Tentatively titled the Leadership Coalition for Jewish Service, the coalition is under formation.  Inaugural partners are BBYO, Hillel International, JDC Entwine, Moishe House, OneTable, Repair the World and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. In addition to its mobilization for #ActNowHouston, the Coalition will support efforts that build the breadth and effectiveness of the Jewish service movement, especially calling attention to and lowering barriers for young Jews to participate in opportunities to make a difference.  We welcome other organizations interested in joining our efforts to identify, support and promote well-programmed Jewish service opportunities with national reach.  The Coalition is facilitated by Repair the World. The Coalition also is supported by the William Davidson Foundation, Marcus Foundation, and Jim Joseph Foundation. 

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