This post originally appeared on My Jewish Detroit in September of 2015
By Vivian Henoch
A grassroots initiative of Federation in partnership with Repair the World and area congregations, PeerCorps Detroit launched its teen service program in the city two years ago with the support of the Hermelin Davidson Fund for Congregation Excellence. At that time, Nora was recruited, along with Blair Nosan, to run with the program and to nurture its mission of inclusion, inviting Jewish teens and b’nai mitzvah students and their families of all denominations to build relationships with one another by engaging in community-based work in the city of Detroit.
“PeerCorps Detroit grew out of a community need to invest in young leaders, starting early with teens,” Nora explains. “Our program works as capacity to build bridges and lasting relationships between the suburban Jewish community and the city of Detroit while fostering a culture of curiosity, critical thinking and understanding through the lens of Judaism.”
Acknowledging the age-old tension that exists in Judaism to maintain the balance between tradition and innovation, Nora observes, “When we speak of tikkun olam – the traditional Jewish idea of repairing the world – the concept has largely come to mean tzedaka – charity or good deeds. What PeerCorps offers is something more profound, not just in the doing, but in the giving of something deeper. We strive for building relationships, understanding the community, becoming a part of it, then sharing it with family and school. That’s leadership.”