Archive for : Repair in the News

Activism – The Sixth Leg of the Jewish Table

This article originally appeared on eJewish Philanthropy on January 25, 2018.

By Jake Campbell

“The Jews are no longer uniform,” Avraham Infeld proclaims, “We were never uniform about how to Jew, but we were always uniform, until the emancipation, about what it meant to be a Jew. That does not exist today. And I am bothered by the question, is it possible to be unified without being uniform?” As someone who has chosen to devote his professional life to Jewish continuity, community, and pluralism, this is a question that often bothers me too as it would bother everyone who has done the same be they a Hillel professional, a professional working for a Jewish Student Union, or any other kind of Jewish professional. Can we be unified as Jews without being uniform?

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This Thanksgiving, “Act Now Against Hunger” with Repair the World

This post originally appeared on e-Jewish Philanthropy on October 31, 2017.

A central theme of millennial-hosted Thanksgiving dinners across the country this year is the simple notion that everyone deserves equitable access to healthy, fresh, affordable and culturally appropriate food. Repair the World urges its thousands of online followers to “Act Now Against Hunger,” offering DIY resources and discussion guides – available at – to support meaningful conversations around food justice and food insecurity, including the connection between acting on these issues and Jewish values.

“Time and again young adults are choosing to build connections between how they live their lives and how they tackle our biggest social challenges,” says David Eisner, CEO of Repair the World. “They see only upside in bringing complex, uncomfortable and difficult conversations into their seasonal celebrations. For many of us, Thanksgiving with our family and friends is about discussing the meaning of gratitude and abundance. Act Now Against Hunger offers us the opportunity to make the scourge of food insecurity a big part of that discussion.”

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Playworks: Lessons in Play

Great article about one of our partners in Philadelphia! We love working with Playworks, learn more about their work in this article!


The State of Volunteering in North American Jewish Not-for-Profit Organizations

Repair the World is pleased to announce the results of its survey: The State of Volunteering in North American Jewish Organizations.

This is the first major assessment of the state of volunteering in the Jewish not-for-profit community. More than 200 Jewish not-for-profit organizations from across the country participated in this survey and these results establish important baselines for the field. The results also highlight opportunities for Jewish not-for-profits to make use of volunteering best practices.

The top-level findings generally support the hypothesis that volunteering programs provide more benefits for organizations that support them with intentionality and investment:

  1. The better a Jewish nonprofit organization supports its volunteers the more it benefits from them: Organizations that report increased use of the best practices for supporting volunteering find directly proportional benefits in capacity, impact and cost savings.
  2. Volunteer managers drive volunteer growth: Volunteer participation numbers are more directly  connected to having dedicated volunteer management than to any other variable, including even an organization’s size and its enthusiasm for volunteers.
  3. Training drives benefits: Having any kind of volunteer training program more than quadruples the benefit of volunteers through increased organizational capacity and impact.
  4. Jewish volunteers are tackling Education and Poverty Alleviation: Education and poverty alleviation are, by large margins, the most common social issues Jewish nonprofit organizations address through their volunteers.

Despite the strong correlation, however, between how organizations support their volunteers and how much value they get from them, the survey results illustrate that most organizations have a long way to go to achieve the additional capacity, impact and cost-savings volunteers could provide.

For Repair, these results boost our determination to provide the resources, tools and best practices to make Jewish volunteering easier, smarter and more impactful for individuals, organizations and communities.

We encourage you to take a close look at this report and use the findings to assess your organization’s current deployment of volunteers.

As always, we are eager to hear your ideas and thoughts!

Fall Fix Up young adult crew tackles Detroit’s Delray community

By Ben Falik, Special Thanks to The Jewish News

On Nov. 10, Jewish Family Service and Repair the World partnered to go where Fall Fix Up had never gone before…


Connected Through Service

Stephen Donshik’s article on the Jumpstart study, “Connected to Give,” highlights several key issues and raises a number of key questions. In particular, the following are three big ideas we at The Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies (AJFCA) want to echo from the article and how we have shifted our focus to address these exact needs in the community:

We need to be reaching out and engaging young people (especially graduates of intensive Jewish experiences like birthright israel) in our institutions, educating them on our mission and organizational structure and inviting them to participate in actual decision making at a high-level.

Will this happen overnight? No. Obviously, as Donshik pointed out, we need to invest in leadership development and strengthen the role of volunteers of all ages in our Jewish institutions. AJFCA made just this investment when we partnered with Repair the World to launch our Volunteer Initiative, hiring a dedicated full time professional in February 2012 to elevate the role and impact of volunteering within AJFCA’s member agencies, manage the expansion of outreach to young adults, and increase professional development and support to network volunteer managers. We have created a Community of Practice of approximately 75 agencies throughout North America that share ideas and resources on community volunteer engagement. Our agencies report that support from AJFCA and their peers helps to enhance their strategy for engaging young people in their communities in a meaningful way.

Once we had a strong sense of how our agencies were faring in the area of young adult engagement, we decided to pilot a Young Adult Ambassador program which would provide the structure and resources to allow the Volunteer Manager of three select agencies to focus on young adult recruitment and engagement in service. Although the pilot year is not yet complete, we have already seen significant returns for the participating agencies. For example, Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit had been reluctant to create volunteer programming specifically targeting young adults since the market for such opportunities in Detroit was surprisingly saturated. The Ambassador pilot helped them work through their perceived roadblocks, allowing them to identify ways to partner with existing programs in the community as well as giving more focused direction to the talented young adults who they had already successfully engaged on their board.

As a national association, we are also very interested in how we might partner with the leaders of the intensive Jewish experiences like birthright, Avodah and the new Repair Community Fellows model to connect their alumni with meaningful opportunities in our member agencies to further their Jewish community connection following their life-altering experience.

We need to prove to young adults that Jewish organizations are not just here for the Jews.

This one is easy for AJFCA and our 125 member agencies. Jewish family service agencies are strongly rooted in Jewish tradition and values. Judaism provides the underpinning of our missions and the foundational guide to our services, but not a limit to whom those services may benefit. In fact, more than half of our member agencies serve a client base that consists of at least 50% non-Jews. Collectively, Jewish family service agencies provide a strong Jewish response to human need. Yes, in case of disasters such as Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, our agencies are there to meet the needs of the general community. But every day they are open, they are serving the needs of the general community by caring for the elderly and disabled, the unemployed and addicted Jews and non-Jews alike. There are many recent studies which back up the fact that younger Jews raise this up as a core value. We need to make them aware that the Jewish family service agencies can connect them to the service opportunities they are seeking.

We need to be open to innovation in our organizations, no matter how large or historic the agency might be.

One of the aspects of institutions that actually attracts rather than repels young adults is that the organization is doing innovative work on issues that the young person finds meaningful. The concept of inviting young adults into the board rooms of our agencies might seem innovative to some, but our hope is to make that piece of our initiative old news and focus our innovation on how volunteers are helping our agencies produce value by filling a void or improving a process. This is something we spoke to in detail in the most recent issue of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service on big ideas and bold solutions. Here again, Jewish family services are continually innovating, and we need to publicize widely this opportunity for young people to engage with a Jewish organization in a way that works for them.

We whole-heartedly agree with the points made by Stephen Donshik in his recent piece. We invite Jewish organizations to partner with us in spreading the word to our future Jewish leaders of the many meaningful and relevant opportunities they can find to engage in the Jewish community through their local Jewish family service agency.

Jennie Gates Beckman is Manager of Civic Engagement and Repair the World Programming of the Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies (AJFCA), Lisa K. Budlow is the Director of Programs of AJFCA and Lee I. Sherman is the President/CEO of AJFCA.

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Jewish Women International’s “Women to Watch”

Lisa Eisen

Working for Systemic Change in Jewish Life


Lisa Eisen knew she would spend her life “working for the Jewish people” as a teenager in 1979 when she spent the summer in Israel. “It was the pivot point in my life, to experience Jews from all over the world building their homeland and forging a strong Jewish future,” she says.

Today, Eisen helps make it possible for thousands of people to “see themselves as part of a dynamic, vibrant Jewish community” as the national director of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Since 2001, she has spearheaded numerous projects for the 25-year-old, multimillion-dollar philanthropic network, which has become one of the leading proponents worldwide of innovative programs for young Jewish adults. Responsible for overseeing the foundation’s support of Hillel, BBYO, Moishe House and other prominent global Jewish organizations, Eisen has also jump-started additional new ventures, including the Israel on Campus Coalition, the Israel Institute, the national service organization Repair the World, and the iCenter, a cutting-edge initiative devoted to Israel education, for which she currently serves as board chair.

“I see myself as working for systemic change in Jewish life,” says the 49-year-old Washington, D.C.-based Jewish activist and innovator. “It’s a privilege to help the Schusterman family realize their philanthropic vision, and I feel an enormous responsibility to get it right.”

With a passion for entrepreneurialism and fulfilling the philanthropic vision of the foundation, Eisen spends her days developing grant-making strategies, helping organizations grow, evaluating the impact of current investments and launching new ventures. “I’ll serve as HR director or fundraiser or PR person until we get the organization staffed up. I’m willing to work hard in any way that’s needed,” she says, and credits the foundation’s co-chairs, Lynn Schusterman and her daughter Stacy, for serving as “inspiring role models. They have shown me that leadership comes down to being authentic and having a strong, clear voice.”

Raised in Louisville, Ky., Eisen also found role models in her parents, who tirelessly volunteered for Israeli and Jewish causes and taught her to fight anti-Semitism. When a boy at her high school called her a “kike, I gave him a piece of my mind and told him he should never use that word again,” she recalls.

Eisen developed her leadership skills through her involvement with the youth groups BBYO and USY, where she served as her local chapter’s president. As a history major at Yale University, she became a Jewish and Israel activist, working for Hillel and writing her thesis on U.S. foreign policy during the Yom Kippur War. “I was accused by my professor of being biased toward Israel, and that experience gave me a real passion for making sure that college students can study Israel in a positive, unbiased and multidisciplinary manner,” she says.

During college, Eisen interned for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and later received her master’s degree in Israel and Middle East studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. At 28, she became the executive director of Project Interchange, an institute of the American Jewish Committee that organizes seminars in Israel for global leaders. There she became experienced in the dynamics of the Jewish nonprofit world. Always, “I have been grounded in hope, opportunity and optimism for the Jewish future,” she says.

The mother of Ariella, 20, Tamar, 18, and Jonah, 14, Eisen does her best “to carve out sacred space” for her children and husband Mitch. “There’s no such thing as balance,” she admits. “But I want my daughters and other young women to know they can be professionals and leaders and still have a family life. It is important to me to be a role model to them.”

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