Jessica Herrman is the Director of Jewish Service Learning for Moishe House, who provides a vibrant Jewish community for young adults by supporting leaders in their 20s as they create meaningful home-based Jewish experiences for themselves and their peers, but her Jewish service journey began when she started serving with Repair the World as a Philadelphia fellow in 2017. “I really was able to find my passion for helping people connect to Judaism. Through my time serving with Repair, I realized that a lot of people don’t see service and Judaism as connected. Being able to bridge the gap was something that I found truly inspiring and impactful, and led me on the path that I am on today.”
Now, she brings her passion for Jewish service to her work at Moishe House and their partnership with Repair. “Bringing Judaism to life in a way that deeply connects with young adults today is important, and a key aspect of that is through service and through repairing the world, tikkun olam,” Jessica said. “Tikkun olam is grounded in all of the work and programming that happens at Moishe house. Our partnership with Repair the World makes sense because we are engaging with the young Jewish adult population and striving to infuse tikkun olam across that community.”
Keeping Judaism relevant and timely is the key to engaging young Jews, according to Jessica. “Learning more about Jewish traditions and Jewish values and making them alive today—and not have them simply sit within a text that is 2,000 or 5,000 years old—is a great component of the partnership.”
One specific project for Moishe House was focusing on May 9, or Victory Day, a significant national holiday in Russia. “For a lot of our communities that are Russian speaking Jews, and for our houses in the former Soviet Union (FSU), we were looking for ways to relight that passion for tikkun olam. Through our partnership with Repair The World, we came up with a Victory Day Tikkun Olam program.”
The program provides different resources on how to plan and lead effective volunteering opportunities, how to partner with communities, how to ground the work in Jewish values, and how to build community around service. Different communities in the FSU and Russian speaking Jewish communities in the U.S. now participate in service honoring the holiday—something that Jessica says probably would not have happened without the partnership.
“One of the key values of Moishe House is community, and that value is brought to life throughout this partnership every single day,” Jessica says. “We don’t only strengthen the community among Moishe House residents through our partnership with Repair, but also strengthen the communities in our Moishe House cities within their communities and beyond the walls of their houses.”
The partnership with Repair the World has significantly impacted Moishe House’s view and focus on service. “Now we’re thinking about infusing service learning into all of our retreats, even if service isn’t the main focus, we are looking at infusing it beyond just our house programs and making it something that connects our entire Moishe universe in the global community.”
Jessica is Moishe House’s Director of Jewish Service Learning & coaches community builders on “how to” create and plan Jewish Service Learning programs, and provides tips on content, pedagogy and programming. In partnership with the Jewish Education team and Repair the World, Jessica cultivates serious Jewish learning and a deep commitment to service.