array(1) { [0]=> int(22) }

Archive for : Shavuot

Showing up for Pride and beyond

By Jaz Twersky, Education Justice Fellow, Repair the World Brooklyn

The first time I found Stonewall, I stumbled across it by accident. I was looking for the library and turned a corner onto a building covered in rainbow flags. Stonewall is smaller than I expected for a place that feels so momentous. It’s here that 50 years ago, queer and trans people threw bricks back at the police, and in turn claimed their space, their lives, and their defiance. Their pride was quite literally revolutionary.

I am the eldest child of a lesbian couple, I’ve been living as an out and proud bisexual for years now, and I publicly came out as nonbinary this year. I couldn’t live as I do without the activists who for decades fought systems of power — at Stonewall and beyond.

It’s about to be Shavuot, the holiday celebrating the Jewish people receiving the Torah, and it’s traditional to stay up all night and study. There is a Jewish story in which a group of rabbis is asked, “is study or action greater?” They debated it among themselves and concluded that study was greater because it leads to action. I consider this story as I remember Stonewall and the activists there, and apply those learnings to my present-day life. At Repair, we ground our volunteering in service learning, so study, action, and connection motivate us to stay engaged.

This year will be my first Pride in New York City, and there’s something special about being here on the 50th anniversary of the raid and riot, in commemoration of that iconic moment of struggle. While I was not at Stonewall, I hope to contribute to building a better world for future queer generations. You can be part of that process too.

Pride month reminds us to recommit to learning and to action. If you’re looking for ways to get involved, you can send a queer book to an incarcerated person with one of my service partners NYC Books Through Bars, attend the Dyke March, a protest of the discrimination, harassment, and violence against the queer community, or participate in an anti-discrimination training facilitated at Borough Hall.

You can also attend events by some of Repair the World’s partner organizations such as:

We build a holy community by consistently showing up for each other, both in the small everyday moments and in the big events of celebration and struggle. I hope you continue to show up for queer communities during Pride Month and beyond.

Shavuot: The Holiday of New Beginnings

Shavuot, the Jewish holiday that starts on Tuesday night, is a holiday of bellyaches. For a group of people known for our, ahem, “issues with lactose,” it seems almost cruel that one of the Jewish calendar’s major holidays would come along with the tradition of eating cheesecake, cheese-filled blintzes, gooey lasagna and other dairy-licious foods. (Bring on the Lactaid!)

But Shavuot is fortunately about other things too. It commemorates the day that God gave the Torah to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, which is arguably the single most important day in Jewish history. Receiving the Torah marked the beginning of an entirely new and exciting chapter for the Israelites – one that opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

Shavuot is also connected to the ancient grain harvest in Israel, specifically the end of barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. During the festival, people would bring the bikkurim (“first fruits”) from their fields to the Temple in Jerusalem as thanks. Harvests mark the culmination of a season’s worth of toil, and the final bounty that comes after weeks of patience and preparation. But with every ending comes – you guessed it! A new beginning, and a new opportunity to envision the future we want to live in.

As we enter Shavuot, how can we make the most of this season of new beginnings, of newness and possibility? One way is to begin to plant seeds – both literal and metaphorical – that, with time, can bring the change we hope to see in the world. On a personal level, try making a list of three goals, hopes, or dreams you have for the coming months (or years). Ask yourself: what steps can I take now, at the beginning, to get on a path towards something great?

On a global level, support people who are following their own dreams. Here are several awesome micro-lending organizations and other orgs that let you support small farmers and business people who are making the world a better place:

  • KIVA – Support artisans, farmers, and small businesses with loans that they repay (so you can lend again and again!)
  • Slow Money – Help farmers support and finance sustainable agriculture across the country.
  • Women Advancing Microfinance – Support women in reaching their education, career and leadership goals.

How will you celebrate Shavuot’s season of new beginnings? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld #shavuot.

6 Ways to Support Education for All on Shavuot

The Jewish holiday of Shavuot starts this weekend. As far as holidays go, it’s pretty big one: the anniversary of the day the Jewish people received the Torah on Mount Sinai and also one of the Jewish calendar’s three pilgrimage festivals, which celebrates the beginning of the wheat harvest in Israel.

One of the ways people celebrate Shavuot is to stay up all night studying – a practice that dates back at least 400 years. Friends gather together and fortify themselves with big cups of coffee, lots of cheese blintzes (it’s also a custom to eat dairy foods on Shavuot) and a stack of Jewish texts – both ancient ones, like the Book of Ruth, and also modern ones. (For some great Shavuot learning opportunities, check out AJWS’ Jewish social justice text database, On 1 Foot.)

For those of us who pull all-nighters for school (or who remember doing that), staying up all night studying may not seem like a lot of fun. But when you think about it, the opportunity to devote a night to education, and having the resources to do it, is not a privilege shared by everyone. That’s why Shavuot, with its focus on learning, is the perfect holiday to think about education for all. How can we make Shavuot our inspiration to promote access to education, literacy and strong classrooms for students throughout the country and world?

Here are a few places to start. Check out the six organizations below, all of which are working to make education more accessible, then click through their sites to find out how you can support their work and make a difference:

  • Global Education Fund: An organization that works to improve the lives of children living in poverty through education.
  • 826 National: An organization that promotes creative and expository writing skills in elementary and high school students in fun and creative ways. (Read Repair the World’s interview with 826 volunteer, Michelle Snyder.)
  • Machshava Tova: An Israeli organization working to close the digital and educational gaps within Israel’s students. (Check out Repair the World’s feature story on Machshava Tova.)
  • Raising a Reader: A national organization that promotes childhood literacy by helping families establish reading routines at home.
  • Class Wish: An organization that empowers parents, teachers and communities to make a difference in kids’ classrooms, by providing them with the school supplies they need to thrive.
  • Edible Schoolyard: Founded by famous foodie, Alice Waters, this organization promotes an “edible education” by building hands-on, sustainable food curriculums for schools.

How will you stand up for education this Shavuot? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld.