I am proud to stand among two dozen fellow Americans who honor the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by serving today as 2011 MLK Day Ambassadors. I approach this task with a strong sense of purpose thrown into high relief by recent events, including an attack targeting a public servant, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who connected her deep desire to serve her country with her Jewish identity.

I am proud to serve not only as someone who believes in the transformative power of people who do so authentically and meaningfully, but also as the head of an organization, Repair the World, devoted to making such service an intrinsic part of American Jewish life, learning, and leadership.

Fully four of the twenty-three 2011 MLK Day Ambassadors are, in fact, members of Repair the World’s leadership. We believe in fostering an engaged generation of Jewish global citizens who experience for themselves the chance to make a meaningful social impact through direct service; who are challenged through that service to develop a deeper understanding of social and environmental problems; and who link their service to their heritage, identity and faith.

On this day we have an opportunity not only to stand as Jews to make a positive impact in our world – which is our mandate to do as Jews – but also to enjoy the sheer energy and enthusiasm infused into all of our communities by people of many backgrounds inspired to “repair the world.”