Repair pushed me and our organization to think even more expansively about service in its most basic form—that it is and should be conceived of as leadership and leadership development. At some level, engagement and leadership connect.
Jewish Silicon Valley (JSV) had historically brought together hundreds of people to celebrate Jewish learning at their annual Jubilee event. But when the pandemic began they had to pivot their celebration. “Embracing our new role as Jewish Silicon Valley (resulting from a merger between the local Federation and JCC), we wanted to shine a light on the good ongoing work happening throughout our community,” says Rabbi Hugh Seid-Valencia (he/him), Jewish Silicon Valley’s Senior Director of Collaborative and Jewish Engagement. “Repair the World became an important partner in both highlighting those positive, ongoing efforts in our community—and doing more of them.”
Rabbi Hugh explains that JSV learned from the Jubilees over the years how invested people were in connecting Jewishly. Repair the World occupies a powerful space, helping people find those connections through meaningful service. Rabbi Hugh say’s that Repair is especially good, “at doing this work in a credible way with young adults, a community that we typically underserve.”
Despite the challenges presented by Zoom engagements over the past two years, the partnership between Repair and Jewish Silicon Valley has sustained. “It’s just a really nice, fairly organic collaboration that I think has resulted in a pretty powerful pilot project that we’re implementing,” says Rabbi Hugh. “I hope that we’ll continue to think together, plan together, and figure out ways to support each other’s work. It feels like an exciting beginning to what hopefully will be an ongoing partnership and relationship.”
The pilot project, Tzedek Circles, is a cohort program for participants to be in community and engage in leadership training. Each cohort decides together how they want to take action as a group. To date, 9 volunteers in 3 circles have contributed 36 acts of service and learning through this pilot project. One circle went on to host public facing events further engaging their community.
Rabbi Hugh believes that Repair’s work with JSV positively influences how they view service efforts in their organization. “Before the pandemic, our grants were all about how many programs we did, how many tickets we sold, and that was our way of demonstrating vibrancy—a very transactional mindset,” Rabbi Hugh says. “Repair pushed me and our organization to think even more expansively about service in its most basic form—that it is and should be conceived of as leadership and leadership development. At some level, engagement and leadership connect.”
As a result of the partnership with Repair, JSV is more likely to integrate service as a means of outreach and engagement in the community, and as a way to welcome people into relationships with the Jewish community more actively. As JSV looks to integrate service more into ongoing work, Rabbi Hugh believes Repair the World will continue to play a role in that.
“I really appreciate Repair’s approach to service. First, this emphasis on the relational nature of service work, a sense for empowering both sides of the relationship. I think that’s really important in the Jewish community. Second, this notion of elevating all kinds of service. It’s not just about volunteer satisfaction, it’s also about meeting the mission.”
Rabbi Hugh previously served as Jewish Community Liaison for VITAS Healthcare and prior to that, spent ten years teaching Jewish Studies at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto where he served most recently as Director of Israel and Jewish Studies Curricula. After studying at Deep Springs College, he earned a B.A. with Highest Honors in English Literature from UC Berkeley and received his rabbinical training from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He has completed both the Rabbinic Leadership Training Program and the Tikkun Middot Training Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is a fellow of the Mandel Executive Leadership Program. He teaches and lectures on topics including parenting, Jewish meditation, Jewish perspectives on the afterlife, ethical dilemmas in extending life, and reading and writing ethical wills.
The Jewish Silicon Valley (JSV) is one of many of Bay Area Repair’s Jewish engagement partners that partners to offer meaningful volunteer and educational opportunities, rooted in Jewish values, for their communities