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Service Beyond a Singular Moment

In high school, Harry was an avid volunteer at a local therapeutic riding center. “I started volunteering at the riding center because I loved horses,” said Harry as he reflected on his earlier years of serving in his community. “I didn’t realize it then, but that time in my life would shift how I viewed service forever.” Now a Repair the World fellow in Baltimore, Harry reflects on that time as a pivotal moment in his life. “Working with children with disabilities in that capacity changed everything for me. It was then that I knew I wanted to be a part of something greater than myself.”

Moving to and working in the city of Baltimore during the pandemic has been a huge shift for Harry. He joined the Repair the World Fellowship with a deep drive to strengthen his Jewish values of service and to pursue justice through a Jewish lens. Harry has an immense passion for education and began volunteering virtually with the St. Francis Neighborhood Center in August 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. “It has been incredibly rewarding to be able to build curriculums to be used for the tutoring program beyond my time serving with the St. Francis Neighborhood Center. The work we’ve done over the last year ensures that the tutoring program is set up for success in the coming year.”

This past year, through his service as a fellow, Harry has further strengthened his connections with Judaism and his values. “Over the last year, I’ve been able to truly identify parts of who I am and make meaningful connections between my values. I’m seeing more and more how service plays an impactful role in how I engage with Judaism.” Harry reflected on how the MLK weekend of service presented his values through volunteering. “Engaging in the weekend of service highlighted one of my values, justice, as part of Judaism and how fighting for equity within the community is ongoing work that I want to continue to do.”   

Harry, alongside two other Baltimore fellows, has also been working on Stories From the People, a storytelling event highlighting LGBTQIA Jewish history. First hand account stories will be performed by people across generations and will identify particular decades and center on the understanding of a collective history in order to make sense of the present and future. “I’m really excited about this project and we’ve been working on it over the last year. This is an idea that came from one community member who attended a program we hosted during Pride last year and it’s amazing to see it grow and shape into a vehicle where marginalized communities can share their stories in the most authentic way.”

Harry plans to step back into the classroom as a paraeducator after completing the fellowship. “It’s important to me that service be something beyond a singular moment. During my fellowship, I’ve learned more about the failures of our education system, including lack of classroom resources and support for students’ mental health and it’s becoming clearer what my life’s path will be as I continue working towards education equity in this country. I’m eager to continue serving my community and pursuing justice, particularly in education.” 

Harry (he/him) is a Repair the World fellow serving in Baltimore, Maryland. As an undergrad, he spent a significant amount of time at Hillel and serving his community. Following both of these passions, he is excited to continue serving in the Jewish space while fighting for education equity in his community. 

Vaccine Volunteer Network Launched in Northeast Ohio

This article originally appeared in The Cleveland Jewish News on May 27th 2021. 

Repair the World Cleveland, a collaborative of local organizations and community members, launched a vaccine network April 3 to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine in Northeast Ohio.

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Thousands of Jewish College Students Engaged in Pilot Project through Serve the Moment Volunteer Service Initiative

For Immediate Release
May 26, 2021

Contact: Jason Edelstein, 510-239-1102

Thousands of Jewish College Students Engaged in Pilot Project through Serve the Moment Volunteer Service Initiative
Repair the World and Hillel International Now Look to Engage More College Students in Service Infused with Jewish Learning

New York, NY — Repair the World and Hillel International’s efforts to mobilize thousands of college students in meaningful volunteer service and learning through the national Serve the Moment initiative resulted in successful mobilization and activation on almost 100 campuses worldwide. Both organizations are exploring expansion of the project following its initial pilot year.

“The success and overwhelming response to this program is proof positive that Jewish college students are eager to create change by living out their Jewish values,” says Cindy Greenberg, President and CEO of Repair the World. “We are excited to engage even more students to serve their communities and address urgent local needs and inequity.”

Specifically:

  • 78 Hillels participated across 95 different campuses.
  • 101 students were Serve the Moment Interns. Each intern completed ten acts of service and engaged 25 unique students, resulting in nearly 5,000 students engaged in more than 26,000 total hours of service.
  • Eight international Hillels participated in the program: Queen’s Hillel in Ontario, Hillel Kyiv, Ben Gurion U Hillel, Hillel Campus France, Hillel at Tel Aviv U, Hillel Warsaw, Hillel Rio, and Hillel Russia. 
  • The top three issue area focuses of the campuses were Food Justice/Insecurity (34 campuses), Racial Justice/Diversity (23 campuses), and Environmental Justice/Sustainability (23 campuses). 

“This program has provided countless examples of our students meeting the moment of an extremely challenging period with hope, service and support for their local and global communities,” said Adam Lehman, President and CEO of Hillel International. “Through our partnership with Repair the World, Hillel is actively and proudly empowering students to have a real and sustaining impact.”

Launched in June 2020, the Jewish Service Alliance (JSA) is a coalition of organizations powered by Repair the World and including Hillel International, which is mobilizing tens of thousands of young people to do 100,000 acts of needed and meaningful service for COVID-19 relief, grounded in Jewish wisdom.  As part of JSA’s Serve the Moment initiative, Hillel Campus Corps Members led service efforts addressing four key areas—hunger, education, employment, and mental health—and the program offered training, resources, and best practices so that they carry out this work in the most effective ways. The service work combined in-person and virtual volunteering, some episodic and some a part of time-bound national Serve the Moment campaigns. This is just the latest partnership between Repair and Hillel to strengthen and maximize service opportunities for young people. 

Applications are being accepted for the June 21-July 30 cohort of Serve the Moment Service Corps.

Below are specifics on how some of the programs engaged in this effort:  

Hillel Milwaukee

This semester, Hillel Milwaukee’s Serve the Moment intern chose to focus on partnering with local non-profit organizations doing important work on immigration justice, racial justice, food justice, and civic engagement. Some of the initiatives included a mishloach manot communal giving opportunity, making baked goods for unhoused community members, running a period product drive, and text banking for a statewide election.

Hillel at University of Virginia 

This semester, Hillel at University of Virginia focused on adding elements of service and advocacy into the programs and events already happening in their community. Their hope was that this would show students how values of tikkun olam are linked to so much of what we do as a community. Serve the Moment Fellows Jackie and Rose established a 15-person Jewish Service Corps group to help with events and initiatives. Members were responsible for completing acts of service throughout the semester and had the opportunity to learn and connect with one another. 

Hillel at The George Washington University 

This semester, Hillel at The George Washington University created an initiative to explore ideological nuances of race in DC, and do service with antiracist practice in mind. By highlighting local organizations, activists, educators, and organizers as learning partners on the subjects of white saviorism, medical racism, education systems, prison & police, and housing justice/gentrification, and using those lessons to inform service practices rooted in an antiracist framework, students at GW Hillel showed up and committed to antiracism through action and learning. 

Hillel JUC (Pittsburgh)

This semester, the University of Pittsburgh Hillel was excited to offer a wide range of service learning opportunities for their students. In March they focused on environmental justice and equity, hosting a Conscious Clothing Workshop in addition to the month-long drive they held to provide supplies for marginalized LGBTQIA folks in need. In April, their primary focus was mental health and racial justice, where they worked with local organizations on social media campaigns and a tour of the Black and Jewish history of Pittsburgh’s Hill District. They were also excited for their Annual Hillel Makes a Difference Day, which offered eight virtual, hybrid and in-person service opportunities for students ranging from food justice to support for senior adults in the Jewish community. 

University of Michigan Hillel

This semester, University of Michigan Hillel’s Serve the Moment fellow planned wonderful programming to engage the Michigan community in important social justice work.  Their areas of focus were on Racial justice and Food justice, and they split their efforts between educational programming and service work. They had a very successful MLK Shabbat where over 30 students hosted Shabbat dinner for their roommates with take out from local Black owned restaurants. Many others also utilized Turn the Tables discussion guides from their partners at Repair the World at their Shabbat dinners. They also hosted a fundraiser on Purim for the Maize and Blue Cupboard, the University of Michigan’s food pantry raising over $250 dollars to help fight food insecurity on campus. They look forward to future events including a speaker series and a Passover food drive. 

Brandeis University Hillel

This semester, Brandeis Hillel worked on ten acts of service centered around immigration justice. They also partnered with Ascentria Care Alliance to implement a tutoring program between migrants in foster care and current Brandeis students. 

Stanford University Hillel

The Serve the Moment fellow at Hillel at Stanford worked on myriad projects this quarter, with a specific focus on environment and wellness. She helped connect many Stanford students with various service projects, put out an educational social media series about sustainable farming, coordinated volunteers for Kids With Dreams, and hosted a racial justice film with her pod-mates, followed by group discussion and a call to action.  She also planned a group beach cleanup with her pod of Stanford students in San Diego, and continued to coordinate other volunteer opportunities for students.  She is also planning to donate her leftover funding to Syrian Youth Empowerment, an organization that helps Syrian students apply to college.  

University of Delaware Hillel

This semester, Hillel at the University of Delaware focused on sustainability through their Serve the Moment programming. Within their first month of the semester, their intern ran multiple successful programs engaging over 30 students. During Purim, they planted parsley that would grow in time to use for Passover and discussed methods of reducing waste in regards to grocery shopping. They helped students make their own cleaning spray during Shabbat to exhibit environmentally friendly alternatives to popular single-use cleaning products. In the future, they plan to host more engaging sustainability-focused events including constructing beeswax wraps, making paper, and highlighting sustainable study habits and tips. Students were excited to participate in these events and leave with tangible products to use in their daily lives.

Hillel at Brooklyn College 

This semester, Brooklyn College planned on continuing their afterschool programs for homeless children by transitioning onto an online platform. Volunteers worked one-on-one with kids who needed tutoring assistance as well as a friend to connect with as these children continued to tackle their reality of a Covid-world. The intern was also devoted to wellness and checked in weekly with student volunteers to see how they were doing, to offer assistance, and to be a listening ear. Every three weeks the volunteers also met as a cohort to do some group wellness activities and learn together. 

Kingsborough Community College 

This semester, Kingsborough Community College gave back to the community through volunteering at their local Masbia soup kitchen. The intern learned that the local Masbia is open 24 hours serving 500 families daily. They partnered with them to provide weekly ongoing volunteer opportunities for students to assist with distributing packages as well as aiding them with organizing and managing food shipments. Volunteers also set aside time each shift to learn together about social justice through a Jewish lens.

 

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Mental health during Covid: Be of service and get a ‘helper’s high’

This article originally appeared in The Jewish News of Northern California on May 21st 2021. 

It was for this reason that I felt lucky to be given an opportunity to give back to my community during this tough time. Through the Serve the Moment fellowship — a program of Repair the World, in partnership with the Jewish Service Alliance  — I was prescreened and able to partner with Hamilton Families, a nonprofit that for decades has provided resources to families in the Bay Area experiencing homelessness.

 

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Seizing the Moment to Serve

Image shows a white woman with brown hair taking a selfie in front of wild bushes.In early 2020, Jasmin had just begun her service with the Peace Corps in Ecuador. Everything changed in March when the pandemic hit and she and her group were evacuated from the region. “It was disappointing and a bit shocking, I didn’t get a chance to serve abroad because we were evacuated at the end of our training,” recalls Jasmin. News of the pandemic was still surfacing and nobody could really know what the future would hold. Jasmin had initially joined the Peace Corps because of her belief in the power of service. She was hoping to build relationships as part of her service abroad and make a real difference in the region. 

It was a surprise to come home to Boston, after saying goodbye to friends and family, and after expecting to be away from home for two years. But when Jasmin got home, she knew she had to find ways to continue her commitment to service and begin to volunteer in her local community. 

In the summer of 2020, after being home and witnessing the ravaging effects the pandemic had across the country and particularly in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Jasmin felt a deep calling to support her neighbors. “I was shocked by how negatively Chelsea was affected by the pandemic,” said Jasmin. “Knowing that there was something I could do to support the community meant a lot to me. The community was already facing great challenges before the pandemic, and the inequities were just exacerbated by COVID-19. I began questioning why it took a global pandemic to see the issues that already existed.” That is when Jasmin signed up to be a part of the Service Corps with Repair the World Boston.

For Jasmin, growing up, she saw her Jewishness and service as two separate aspects of her life. “As I started serving when I became older and especially through the Service Corps, it became clear to me that tikkun olam, repairing the world, was a vital part of being Jewish. Serving is now part of both my personal and Jewish values. Caring for others is why service is so important to me now,” said Jasmin.  

Jasmin spends most of her time serving with the Food Pantry at St. Lukes in Chelsea, Massachusetts. She has been inspired by the meaningful collaborations created during her meetings with local food pantries, food banks, schools, and other organizations like Healthy Chelsea and The Greater Boston Food Bank who are fighting for food access equity in the greater Boston area. “It’s amazing to see a group of non-profits from all over Boston come together and share resources that will not only uplift the organizations but allow for greater access to food for the members of the Boston community,” said Jasmin.

Jasmin spends her Fridays stocking the shelves of the food pantry and is in constant awe of how quickly food and supplies leave the pantry, highlighting the immense needs of the families for whom the pantry is so valuable. 

“How I viewed service as a part of my life was reaffirmed in the moments after the pandemic. I knew I was following the right path,” said Jasmin. “Arriving back home last year was when I realized I could actually do service in my community, and that volunteering would become a core part of my life’s journey.” 

Jasmin Bach (she/her) graduated from the University of New Hampshire in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Anthropology. She is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer who was recently evacuated from Ecuador due to the pandemic. She has a passion to do good and is excited to do so close to home. During her service with Serve the Moment she served with The Neighborhood Developers to build community and support St. Luke’s Food Pantry to provide food for individuals experiencing food insecurity. Jasmin will be spending 10 months working with The Neighborhood Developers as an Americorps volunteer.

Investing in Community through Service

“Working with my service site, About Fresh, has been incredibly impactful. It’s been a powerful experience witnessing community members gain access to fresh food using food access programs like SNAP and knowing I play an important role in making that happen,” said Repair the World Boston Corps Member, Brianna when reflecting on her time of service.

“Parents are willing to stand in line for over an hour to ensure that their families are able to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.” For Brianna, it is more than a moment for her, it is a reflection on her past. Brianna grew up living on mostly canned goods and often did not have access to fresh produce unless provided through the kindness of strangers at local churches. “It was years before I was able to introduce fresh and healthy food to my daily nutrition because of my upbringing,” said Brianna. “I think all of the volunteers feel the impact of our work, but it’s different for me because I understand how big of a difference organizations like About Fresh make. Because of our presence in the community, these children will now have a more positive relationship with food.”

Brianna often reflects on the narrative that blames parents living in poverty for not giving their children the best food, when the issue truly lies within equitable access to proper nutrition. “The shift comes when we meet these families where they’re at, ensuring they have access to important resources.”

Curiosity and asking meaningful questions are values that have been central to Brianna’s relationship with Judaism. She spent four years converting to Judaism and during that time learned how important it was to never stop asking questions. “It was refreshing to dig deeper in a way I hadn’t before,” said Brianna. As a Corps Member, she’s been able to expand her curiosity in meaningful ways. “Our weekly cohort meeting is not only a time to reflect but to also challenge what we experience and to explore the reasons why we serve. Being a part of a program where we have the space to challenge others as well as ourselves makes the experience that much richer. This experience has become a ‘coming home’ moment in some ways. I’m surrounded by other people who also push themselves and don’t accept things for what they are.”

While serving with Repair the World Boston Brianna witnessed real relationships being built while serving others, creating a volunteering experience that was not fleeting or a temporary bandage to society’s issues. “It’s so much more powerful to think longer term when serving. I know that I can still sign up to volunteer with my local community beyond Serve the Moment and that is so important to me. Like donors who make recurring donations to organizations, I see volunteering as an investment in my community and it’s members. It’s the consistency of the support and building relationships beyond a singular service moment that makes a real difference.”

Brianna sees service and Judaism as intertwined, both offering ways to strengthen and uplift their communities. “What I love about Judaism is that the community finds ways to make others feel welcomed and not alone. Service is such a beautiful expression of that. For me, service has strengthened my connection to Judaism by allowing me to be a part of a group of people who truly care about their community. There is a distinct sense of belonging and love that makes a person feel like they really matter.”

Brianna Elise Goodlin (she/her) has worked as a consultant and her work has been driven by a passion for helping people navigate seemingly intractable problems and find solutions in unexpected places. This also animates her personal life, where she spends time doing work for various causes including combating food insecurity, alleviating poverty, and increasing access to education. As a Corps Member, Brianna served at Beantown Jewish Gardens helping expand their reach through marketing and engagement, and with AboutFresh, distributing fresh food to underserved communities in Boston.

The Masters in Development Practice within the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies at Emory University Launches New Partnership with Repair the World to Support Repair the World Fellows and Alumni

For Immediate Release
May 3, 2021

Contact: Zack Block, Senior Director of Communities, Repair the World,  [email protected] & Chan Williams, Academic and Student Affairs Coordinator, Master’s in Development Practice, [email protected]   

The Masters in Development Practice within the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies at Emory University Launches New Partnership with Repair the World to Support Repair the World Fellows and Alumni

Atlanta, GA — Repair the World, a National Jewish social justice service organization, and Emory University today announced a strategic partnership to support current fellows and alumni of Repair the World Communities fellowship who are accepted and enrolled full time to the Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) at The James T. Laney School of Graduate studies.

“This partnership between Repair the World and the MDP program is a match made in heaven!  We share the same vision of forming talented young people to be effective change-makers in the world. Given their community engagement experience and commitment to social justice, fellows are an ideal fit for the MDP program and will thrive at Emory University. They will gain a diverse set of skills and insights that will enable them to move on to impactful and rewarding careers in the development and humanitarian field“ said Dr. Carla Roncoli, Director of the Emory MDP program.

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

  • Waived application fee for MDP applicants
  • At least one Strategic Partner scholarship equal to at least 30% of tuition per academic year
  • Consideration for additional merit-based tuition scholarships that may be offered during the admission cycle. 

“We are excited about the opportunities this partnership provides for our fellows and alumni. Because of this partnership Repair the World fellows and fellow alumni will have access to a stellar and rigorous program that will strengthen their field based knowledge and practice of sustainable development that will prepare them for a continued commitment to serving and uplifting their community in a dynamic and meaningful way,” said Cindy Greenberg, CEO of Repair the World.

Emory’s MDP program is a two year course of study and practice that builds on an organic fusion of core scientific disciplines, programmatic skills, and experiential learning through globally- and locally-focused internships and field practicums. The program capitalizes on its partnership with a vast network of  leading development and humanitarian institutions and community-based organizations. These partners’ global reach will provide students with invaluable exposure to the way development practitioners operate in the real world and with a perspective on the different institutional contexts in which they will serve after completion of their degrees.

The James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies at Emory University is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in advancing academic excellence through innovative scholarship, research, teaching, and programming that prepares a diverse and inclusive student body for success as leaders and in service to the global good. 

Repair the World mobilizes Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, igniting a lifelong commitment to service. We believe service in support of social change is vital to a flourishing Jewish community and an inspired Jewish life. By 2030, Repair will inspire and catalyze one million acts of service towards repairing the world.

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

More information about the Master’s in Development Practice can be found by visiting: https://www.emory.edu/mdp  You may also visit the James T. Laney Graduate School website: https://www.gs.emory.edu 

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Strengthening Communities and Jewish Values

At the start of the pandemic, Rafael found himself thinking intensely about how to get his neighbors and community through an incredibly difficult reality. “It’s pretty easy to be wrapped up in your own life, but something I truly value is realizing that your time should also be dedicated to helping others. That can take shape in many different ways,” said Rafael. For Rafael, who lives in Denver,  joining the Service Corps was a way to support his community in significant ways and be connected to the Jewish community in a way he hadn’t been in a long time. 

There were several moments of being a Corps Member that solidified Rafael’s Jewish value of strengthening members of his community but most recently, Rafael was placed to serve at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic which was launched to more equitably disseminate the vaccine to marginalized populations. “Communities at higher risk or with an increased level of skepticism were able to come and get vaccinated in a setting that was more comfortable for them,” said Rafael. “Many of the patients were Spanish speaking or didn’t speak much English and I served as their interpreter and helped them book appointments for the second dose of the vaccine.”  

While serving at the vaccine site, Rafael met a 63 year old man who had never been vaccinated before. Like Rafael, he was born in Mexico and they immediately connected through their common nationality. He shared with Rafael that this was his first time getting vaccinated and he was motivated to get the shot because he had lost someone close to him to COVID-19. “I could see the struggle and the pain he was in and I believe having someone there he felt comfortable sharing his story with made a huge difference.” Rafael worked with several people at the site who were nervous or scared for many reasons, including being reported for being undocumented or general fear and misunderstanding surrounding the vaccine. “My job was to also reassure them. We needed to make sure they came back for their second shot.” One woman he scheduled broke down in tears. “She expressed to me how relieved she was because now she would be able to see her family for the first time in over a year.”

Since volunteering at the vaccine site, Rafael has dedicated his time as a Corps Member towards pursuing food justice in the Denver community through his placement with Denver Urban Gardens (DUG). “I’ve seen the positive impact of people addressing food insecurity by building their own urban gardens and ensuring that nutritious food gets to the hands of those who need it the most,” said Rafael.  

Rafael continues to strengthen his connection to the Jewish community and his values through Serve the Moment. “My work as a Corps Member has opened my eyes to many things that define what a community is. I’ve not only become closer to my community members but I’ve also learned how powerful service is in making a positive impact in the lives of everyone here in Denver.”

Rafael Levy is originally from Mexico City and moved to the U.S. seven years ago. He is currently a student at CU Denver and manages a coffee shop. He is passionate about serving his community and is eager to use his time to learn and uplift those around him.

Sunny’s Community Garden to Provide Fresh Food in the Hill

This article originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle on April 26th 2021. 

Sarah Schanwald is a fellow with the Pittsburgh chapter of Repair The World, whose mission embraces the Jewish concept of tikkun olam. She helped drum up some of the volunteers last week on Earth Day.

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Crown Heights Community Coming Together to #MakeCrownHeightsShine

This article originally appeared in Crown Heights News on April 19th 2021. 

This coming Sunday, April 25th, Repair the World Brooklyn, The Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, The Office of Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, One Crown Heights, Brooklyn Community Board 9, Neighbors in Action/SOS, The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, The UJA Federation of New York, and Clean Up Crown Heights are co-hosting a community-wide project named “#MakeCrownheightsShine – A Community Clean Up”. We are putting out the call to inspire all Crown Heights residents, organizations and businesses to participate in cleaning our neighborhood.

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