By Kate Thomas

My last family service project before COVID-19 chaos fully took hold was a family Purim celebration at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST). Recently, Senior Rabbi at CBST, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, reflected on lessons from the 90s AIDS crisis that are relevant to today’s pandemic. After reading this article, I felt a combination of uncertainty, strength and a commitment to serve. Just a few short weeks ago, I watched families dress up in costumes and make colorful school supply kits for our partners at East Harlem Tutorial Program, while hamantaschen were served with gloves and tongs, no one knew yet how this pandemic would change future holiday gatherings. 

Now, this project feels like a poignant precursor to how Jewish communities are reacting during this challenging time. We’re still faced with the uncertainty of what’s to come, but we carry on a commitment to service. I hear leaders asking how they can help, folks donating to their local pantries, and families eager to implement service projects into their kids’ time at home. 

At Repair the World, we are nationally engaging volunteers in virtual volunteering and learning opportunities. While we won’t be in person for the foreseeable future, we are thinking of all of you, and especially the families and communities most impacted by this pandemic. For now, we invite you and your family to join us for the many Jewish acts of strength and service we have to share. 

In celebration of Earth Day (4/22), we invite families across the country to join Repair the World Harlem on Sunday April 26th at 11:30-12:30pm from the comfort of your own home for Playdates with a Purpose! We’ll learn how to take care of our planet and lead an at-home project geared toward 3-6 year olds (all siblings are welcome). We’ll feature amazing live music by Tkiya Music and sing songs celebrating the planet. Join by Zoom to play and learn at home, together! Generously made possible by PJ Library, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Register here to receive the link to join! 

While we don’t recommend children picking up trash outside at this time, here are some other safe and fun Earth Day actions you can do with your family! 

  • Make an art project out of recycled items
  • Plant and grow your own vegetables 
  • Make a bird feeder out of recycled items
  • Do a socially distanced nature walk and draw or take pictures along the way  
  • Create a spring garden sensory tub
  • Get a free digital edition of any Ranger Rick magazine
  • Donate to environmental justice organizations 
  • Advocate for better environmental initiatives locally and beyond
  • Find more Earth Day activities for kids here!

We hope your family is staying safe and hope to see you at an upcoming virtual project!

Kate Thomas is a Repair the World Fellowship Alumna and currently serves as the Family & Education Program Manager for Repair the World NYC.