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Self Care During Hard Times

It’s important to find times to unplug and reflect. For many, that time is Shabbat. We encourage you to think about the times you can set aside for self-care. We reached out to our friends and partners at OneTable for some suggestions and resources. See below for resources related to meditation, and a special piece compiled by Rabbi Jessica Minnen. While in places Shabbat is mentioned, each resource can be used about self-care more broadly.

Let’s support each other as much as we can now and always.

Shabbat Resources

Shabbat and Self Care
Compiled by Rabbi Jessica Minnen, OneTable, [email protected]

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Audre Lorde

Even as the popularity of the word self-care has risen, many people have stopped believing in the value of the practice. Our incredible capacity to commit to one  another’s struggles is only as strong as our ability to care for ourselves.

This Shabbat, check in with yourself with these self-care questions:

  • Did I eat well today (as defined by myself and not the rest of the world)?
  • Did I move my body in some way that could be helpful for my body’s needs?
  • How much sleep did I get?
  • How do I feel in my body?
  • How much water have I had today?
  • Have I been outside at all today?
  • What is one emotion that I can identify feeling today?
  • When is the last time I was in nature?
  • When is the last time I did a self-focused activity (reading for fun, listening to music, meditation, cooking for myself)?
  • Can I identify one hope I have for my immediate future (today, this week, this month)?

“Finding ways to be kind to ourselves is a gift we can offer to ourselves and our community because of the space it gives us to engage in the emotional labor of deconstructing oppressive structures related to a seemingly endless list of ‘isms.’ May these strategies for self-care, inspire you in your community to find your own path for healing yourself, and offer a template for healing our communities as a whole.” — Adapted from Lauren Lofton.

Lauren Lofton is a queer, genderqueer, person of color, social justice advocate and attorney born and raised in the Bay Area. They earned a J.D. in Public Interest Law from University of California, Davis in 2009. Lauren is dedicated to a legal practice with an intersectional, social justice lens that is grounded in compassion.

Days and weeks when stories of sexual assault and allegations make headlines and conversations in homes and offices can be particularly triggering and difficult for everyone, including survivors. In addition to self-care, we encourage anyone struggling, or feeling alone or confused, to look to the following resources:

Act Now to Support Separated Families

At Repair the World, we are deeply concerned about asylum seeking families being detained and separated at the border. The Torah speaks clearly and multiple times: “You should love the stranger because you were once strangers.” The Torah shares this message 36 times; some interpret this repetition as double chai or two lives. This biblical directive to “love the stranger” is not only about about loving and welcoming in the stranger; it is intertwined with saving the heart and soul of our own community.

We encourage you to Act Now with one of these opportunities to serve.  Here are national and local opportunities to take action through service.  



New York:


We will continue to update this list as we learn of additional opportunities locally and nationally. To volunteer with Repair the World in your city, click here.

There are many incredible national organizations working on justice for immigrants and asylum seekers in a variety of ways. Connect with and follow these organizations for more information: Bend the Arc, HIAS, Mijente, Movimiento Cosecha, Religious Action Center, T’ruah, and United We Dream.

***Tzedakah Alert: Donating to Bail Funds***

A powerful way to use your financial resources to support undocumented families separated at the border is by donating to bail funds. Bail for undocumented people detained by ICE or U.S. Customs and Border Protection must be set at a minimum of $1,500; on average, it is closer to $10,000 per person. Donations help families reunite.  

National organizations funding bail and legal services:

Local organizations’ bail funds and legal services:

If you’d like to share feedback on these connections to volunteer opportunities to support separated families and the organizations listed above, please email [email protected]

Tips for Jewish Parents on Responding to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria

Talking to Children about Natural Disasters

It is not uncommon for children affected directly and also indirectly, to have strong emotional and behavioral responses in the aftermath of any natural disaster.

  • How do we process these disasters with our children who are far away from the affected areas, but have curiosity and awareness of the events?
  • And for those of us in the throes of the hurricane aftermath ourselves, how do we anticipate, stay attuned, and respond to the needs of our children even as we are navigating displacement, damage, extreme disruption of the day to day?

As is true in almost all difficult conversations with kids, the best advice is to be honest in an age-appropriate way.

Resources for anticipating and responding to children of all ages in varying situations related to natural disasters:

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams is a classic, award-winning picture book about a family who experiences a fire and must replace all of their possessions.


Be a Helper

As Fred Rogers taught generations of children on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, when something scary is happening, look for the helpers. Create space for our children to be helpers, too!

  • Give tzedakah. Tzedakah is, for Jewish people, charitable giving, which we often view as a moral obligation. Talk with your family about different organizations and how your donation may be used.  Older children can help with research and younger ones can help choose.



Purchase gift cards, donate, and offer on the ground support through The Union for Reform Judaism and the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston.



Provide immediate and long-term relief for Florida’s most vulnerable communities including the farmworkers of Immokolee, Florida through T’ruah: the rabbinic call for human rights and the Irma Community Recovery Fund in partnership with the Miami Foundation.



Support Georgia communities through the Southern Community Hurricane Organizing Fund.



Provide hygiene kits, safe water, and mental health support and rehabilitate through the American Joint Distribution Committee Hurricane Irma and Cuba Relief Fund.


If you’re in South Florida or Houston, and able to do direct service, these organizations are doing daily outreach based on direct needs of impacted families:

South Florida: Bridge to Hope and Community Emergency Operations Center

Houston: Hurricane Harvey Houston Day Camp, Orthodox Union Harvey Relief Volunteers and Ecclesia



  • Pray with your words and your feet. At your Shabbat or Rosh Hashanah table, or from the bima at your synagogue, share a prayer or poem for those in the midst of disaster and invite your community to take action. Children can also create their own haiku or acrostic poem to share in school or synagogue


  • Open your home. If you are living in or near an affected area, but have power and shelter, consider opening your home to evacuees and first responders through  Airbnb’s Open Homes effort.


  • Think long-term. Disasters are in the spotlight only for a few news cycles, but the impact can last months or years. Put a note in your calendar a month from now, six months from now, and a year from now to remind yourself to check and see how you might continue your involvement and support.

For Parents

You’re doing great! This is really tough stuff. Here’s a Parent’s Prayer for Patience to honor you. 

Download Posters

Click to download and print Repair the World posters.

Post-Election Service

At Repair the World, we’ve engaged thousands of Jewish millennials and our neighbors in meaningful service to address inequity in our four community hubs – Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Detroit. In the past year, as our work began more explicitly focusing on racial justice, we’ve done a lot of listening; since the election, our listening has intensified. We’ve gathered community members for open space meetings and for conversation over the Shabbat dinner tables, we’ve attended community gatherings led by community organizers and local politicians, and we’ve talked to our neighbors and our community partners.

Here’s some of what we’ve been hearing:

  • Fear. We’ve heard fear that people of color, Muslims, immigrants, people that identify as LGBTQ, and members of the Jewish community are not safe. The fear is real and palpable, and it comes from both those groups and those who consider themselves allies. The uptick in violence since the election — racist threats and actions, and violence against individuals based on whom they supported — has heightened their concerns.
  • A desire to act. People, especially young people, want to take action and shift their priorities. Some are interested in getting more involved politically, and some want to take action locally to stand in solidarity with their neighbors.
  • A desire to connect across difference, especially among white people. For some this means wanting to get to know more people in their diverse neighborhoods. Jews want to organize meals with Muslims. White people want to show up to connect with people of color. And, others are looking for ways to connect across the political divide, either locally or nationally.

At Repair, we believe that service has a more powerful role to play in America than ever before.

  • Serving together is one of the most effective opportunities for people to connect across differences to build and strengthen community. Whether building relationships with people serving alongside you or finding a better understanding of underserved individuals, service can expose us to those who hold different perspectives and life experiences, helping us to grow and become stronger.
  • Service offers a deeply Jewish response to addressing inequality and injustice. We recall that the Torah teaches us to care for the stranger and those who are vulnerable thirty-six times, invoking our memory of what it was like to be strangers in the land of Egypt. Service allows us to address immediate shortcomings, even when systemic or political change feels daunting.
  • Service allows everyone to take action in solidarity. There’s an obvious unevenness to how inequities impact us. For those less directly affected by these unfairnesses, addressing them through action and service can demonstrate that we stand with those who face more adversity.
  • Service heals both those of us who serve and those with whom we serve. When emotional strains pull at us, acting externally to repair society’s brokenness can help make us whole internally.

In the coming weeks and months, Repair the World will be recommitting to our efforts to make service a defining element of Jewish life.

In NYC, we are launching a new Volunteer Corps whose members will commit to volunteering at least twice a month with our service partners in Central Brooklyn.

In Philly, we’re holding a Post-Election Cocktails with a Conscience on the evening of Thursday, December 8 at our Workshop at 4029 Market St. In addition to offering each other support and comfort, we’ll have a chance to take stock of where we are, to determine what action steps we want to take to move forward as a community, and to advance and defend values and principles like fairness, justice, compassion, and kindness that are at the core of who we are. This gathering will be followed by a Day of Service on Sunday, December 18, in addition to other actions we’ll shape together.

In Pittsburgh, we are continuing to work with and listen to our community in the way that we did in holding an evening of healing on November 9th. As part of these efforts, we’ll be holding a Cocktails with a Conscience event on December 2nd at our Workshop at 6022 Broad Street. This will be followed by a dinner on December 8th, where we’ll talk about hunger in our city and outline specific work done to combat it. We will follow that up with a lot of service opportunities around MLK Day as well as ways to innovate for the social good in our community.

In Detroit, we are continuing to work with Freedom House to offer a safe space and educational workshops to the refugees and asylum seekers they house and planning Southwest Holiday Fest for December 10 to showcase the proud diversity and inclusion of of Mexicantown.

In Baltimore, we are continuing to work alongside our community partners to produce relevant and impactful action and learning. On December 9, in partnership with Jews United for Justice, we are hosting a Turn the Tables Shabbat Dinner where we will be discussing water affordability and accessibility, a major issue in Baltimore, as well as nationally and globally. We will also be holding days of service on Mitzvah Day (December 24-25) and on MLK Day (January 13-16) where we will be exploring racial injustices, religious tolerance, and other issues as they impact the Baltimore community.

Nationally, we are expanding Act Now for Racial Justice, a campaign to engage individuals and organizations in meaningful discussions and in action through service that shows solidarity and makes a difference in creating more cohesion in support of ending systemic racism.

We are committed to living and acting upon our values, no less now than before November 8. This call to justice binds us to vulnerable and marginalized people in our communities, and we hope that our answering that call through service will resonate with the Jewish community. We invite everyone to be a part of a stronger and more just world.

To the Repair the World Community

At Repair the World, we believe that serving together with communities to meet urgent needs can be a valuable path to understanding and building relationships across differences.

Today is a day to focus on for being there for each other, especially for communities experiencing pain and marginalization. Wherever we stand in response to the election results, it is clear that we are a country with deep divisions, a place in which we truly do not understand one another, yet where too many of us dismiss the depth of the others’ despair.

We need to reach out to each other, to our children and elders, to our neighbors and friends, and build community. And, with those we are close to, we prepare ourselves for the difficulty of reaching out and listening to those whom we do not usually hear. In the Repair the World Communities, we will open our workshops for these conversations – hosted by partners and ourselves – conversations that we hope will begin to heal our civic wounds.

We also invite you to reach out to us. Share your thoughts and feelings about the election. Our digital community is a place for dialogue and listening and we invite you to add comments to this post below.

In Jewish tradition, the telling and hearing of a story is one way we create understanding. We encourage you to share your stories today and to ask others for theirs. Through our collective stories, may we continue to build a narrative of understanding and national healing.

We look forward to all of the opportunities in the future to unite in service and solidarity in our local communities.

Repair Interview: Rachel Sumekh of Swipe Out Hunger

Repair the World recently launched our High Holiday campaign, focused on advancing racial justice and building relationships between communities. There are many different ways to get involved (Learn about the root causes of racial injustice in America. Host or attend a Turn the Tables dinner. Take action in solidarity with our neighbors as a multiracial Jewish community.) – and we encourage you to explore them all.

Meanwhile, we will be introducing you to some of our favorite change makers. Here’s Rachel Sumekh, the Founding Executive Director of Swipe Out Hunger. Sumekh co-founded the organization – which lets students donate unused points from university meal plans to feed peers and community members facing hunger – during her sophomore year at UCLA. Today, Swipe Out Hunger exists on 23 campuses across the country, and is changing the conversation about poverty and food insecurity on college campuses. Read on…

What was the inspiration behind Swipe Out Hunger?
It started out because we were annoyed with the university for creating meal plans where students who had excess points at the end of a semester lost them. It began informally, with students going into dining halls and buying meals to go, then giving them to homeless and other food insecure people. But the university had some issues with this model. Fortunately, rather than stopping us, they said we should develop a new model. Today, if a student has extra meal swipes, they can opt into the Swipe Out Hunger program and convert that money into resources to help food insecure students.

Read more

A Summit on Jewish Service

This post originally appeared on Heritage Florida Jewish News on September 30, 2016.

By Heritage Florida Jewish News

At the inaugural Service Matters: A Summit on Jewish Service last week, more than 200 people joined together committed to elevate the place of volunteer service in American Jewish life. The Summit was hosted by Repair the World with more than 35 partners from across the fields of Jewish service, social justice, leadership development, and communal engagement.

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You, too, can help repair the world: Pirkei Avot offers inspiration for millennial do-gooders

This post originally appeared on on Sept 15, 2016

By David Eisner

When lowering my shoulder, planting my feet and pushing hard to make something happen, I love to reflect on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s exhortation to act with “the fierce urgency of now.”

My feelings in those moments usually are not very MLK-like — self-righteousness, self-satisfaction and just a touch of self-pity make me feel both impatient and smug.

Over the last month, however, “the fierce urgency of now” has challenged me in a new way, as I struggle to process the violence, oppression, naked fear, hatred and cynicism that is dominating our national news and politics and spilling into our communities.

The sense of urgency and the desire to act immediately collides with two simple questions: What should I do?  What can I do?

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How to Repair The World and inspire a volunteerism culture

This post originally appeared in Vision in Sept 2016.

By Yasmine Ziadat

David Eisner, CEO and President of NPO Repair The World, explains how businesses and governments can tap into an undervalued pool of potential volunteers, to celebrate our Special ‘Power of Volunteering’ Feature, launching in October.

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