Archive for : Tradition & Culture

A Refugee-Focused Alternative Break With Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life

This guest post is being shared as part of #SupportforRefugees, Repair the World’s Passover campaign focusing on the global refugee crisis. It was written by Ya’arah Pinhas and Will Simon, and covers a jam-packed alternative spring break program focused on refugee resettlement, and run by Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life.

Over the recent Spring Break, Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life’s Social Justice Committee led a service learning trip to NYC and NJ exploring refugee resettlement in the area. With an ever increasing number of 60 million internally displaced people, asylum seekers, and refugees worldwide alongside the media’s focus on the Syrian refugee crisis, the committee has focused its efforts on raising awareness on campus and encouraging students to take action on this topic. The trip’s goals were to learn about the process of resettlement of refugees in the US, specifically looking at the services provided to them once they arrive within US borders, and volunteering with organizations that assist refugees newly arrived to the US and advocate on their behalf.
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Repair Inteview: Ruben Chandrasekar on Helping Refugees in Baltimore

This interview is being shared as part of #SupportforRefugees, Repair the World’s Passover campaign focusing on the global refugee crisis.

Imagine leaving everything and everyone you know, and starting life over from scratch. For the millions of refugees around the world who are forced to flee war and persecution in their home countries, this unimaginable situation becomes everyday reality.

As someone who immigrated to the United States as a teenager, Ruben Chandrasekar personally understands the challenges that come with being uprooted. And his experiences drive his work as Executive Director of the Baltimore chapter of International Rescue Committee (IRC), an organization that helps refugees rebuild their lives. Repair the World recently spoke with Chandrasekar about IRC’s refugee resettlement work in Baltimore, how volunteers can get involved, and his thoughts on how the Jewish community can make a difference in the lives of today’s refugees. (Spoiler alert: it involves Albert Einstetin.)

How did you get involved with refugee work?
I was born in Chennai, India and moved to the US with my mom when I was 14. I lived in a small town in Upstate New York, and was the first non-white kid in the school. I faced a lot of challenges and discrimination as a student. My mom, who was a prominent nurse in India, couldn’t find work as a nurse until she passed the board exam. She studied for the boards while working as a home health aide. I remember driving her to someone’s home to take care of them once. An elderly gentleman opened the door, took a look at her, and said, “We don’t want your kind in our house.”
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Buy (Kosher, Sustainable) Meat from Grow & Behold and Support Masbia

Eating delicious food is a reward in and of itself. If it is also sustainably produced and kosher, that’s even the better. But what happens when the amazing dinner on your plate gives back to those in need? Win, win, win.

This Purim, Grow & Behold, the kosher sustainable meat company, will donate 5% of all orders delivered next week (March 14-18) to the kosher soup kitchen network, Masbia. In addition to partying, Purim is filled with many opportunities to give back to our friends and community. The Purim tradition of matanot l’evyonim, specifically instructs us to give charity to those in need. Grow & Behold donates products to Masbia year-round, but in the spirit of holiday, they up their game. And you can help!

Grow & Behold’s poultry and meat is raised on small, family-run farms. They adhere to strict standards of kashrut, animal welfare, worker treatment, and sustainable agriculture. Masbia, meanwhile, provides everyone in need – kosher keeping or not – meals with dignity.

Find out more about Grow & Behold’s products and place your order on their website. And learn more about the great work at Masbia your purchase will support at the video below:

Happy Purim!

#8Nights of Hanukkah Service: Give Unexpectedly

Join Repair the World in celebrating the #8Nights of Hanukkah service as we dedicate the Festival of Lights to helping others. Each day we will suggest a service project, donation opportunity, or other way to spread tikkun olam and get involved for the holiday. After all, Hanukkah is a holiday of miracles – why not make some? Tonight: Give unexpectedly.

We’ve all got long holiday shopping lists. There’s mom and dad, bubbe and little sis. Add on best friends, teachers, and your significant other and that’s a lot of Hanukkah prezzies to coordinate.

But this year, we invite you to think about your Hanukkah gift list a little more broadly. There are so many people who make a huge difference in our daily lives in little ways. There’s the barista who always remembers your order. There’s the UPS driver who walks your packages up to your door, and the blogger you’ve never met who writes something that makes you cry tears of relief/recognition/happiness.

There’s the teacher you had in 5th grade who’s voice and wisdom you still hear in your head all these years later. There’s the nurse at your doctor’s office who comforted you at your last appointment, and the guy in the subway who makes your commute better by playing his fiddle.

Whatever and whoever these people are, our interactions with them make our days a little brighter. And these moments of tiny, quiet kindness bring light into our year the way the Hanukkah menorah brings light to our homes.. So this year, be ready to surprise them with a Hanukkah gift when they least expect it.

There are a million ways to achieve this goal, but here’s one idea: Make up a bunch of cards (MOO lets you make super stylish ones – or just print out something simple out on your computer) with an image you love on one side and the words “Thanks for making my day brighter. Happy Holidays” on the other. Carry a handful of them around in your bag along with some chocolates. Whenever you have an encounter with someone kind, hand over a card and a chocolate along with a smile.

You’ll make their day – and their holiday – as much as they make yours.

Keep your eyes peeled for each service gift idea – and this Hanukkah, let your spirit for volunteering last for eight days and nights!