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Archive for : ajws

Torah Tidbit: A Taste of This Week’s Portion Vayeshev 5772

This Torah Tidbit is brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Check out the full dvar tzedek on which this excerpt is based at AJWS.

Sometimes, it feels all too easy to get discouraged. Bad news flashes across newspaper headlines, our television sets and our Facebook feeds. Taken together the world’s problems can feel insurmountable, leaving us feeling small and ineffectual – and like our actions don’t really matter.

But, as this week’s dvar tzedek author, Wendi Geffen writes, “Parshat Vayeshev offers a counter-text to the perceived futility of one “ordinary” person’s efforts.” The parsha tells the story of Joseph (yes, the owner of of the amazing technicolor dreamcoat). It describes a chance meeting Joseph has with a man – a stranger – that ends up completely changing the path of his life, as well as the course of the Jewish people’s future.

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Torah Tidbit: A Taste of the Week’s Portion Vayetze 5772

This Torah Tidbit is brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Check out the full dvar tzedek on which this excerpt is based at AJWS.

What responsibility do we have to the Earth? Is it possible to value the earth as a sacred space? How do we balance our need for resources with the environmental degradation that too often results from our consumption? Are the stakes different when we’re talking about food or a smart phone?

This week’s Torah portion, Vayetze, offers insight into these challenging questions. It tells the story of Jacob fleeing form his home and encountering God through his dreams while in the wilderness. (Remember the whole “Jacob’s ladder” story? Yeah, that’s this one.) Jacob’s encounter sets up a binary that puts God and heaven in a sacred context and the earth below in a mundane context.

According to this week’s dvar tzedek author, Adina Roth, that binary can cause problems with how we view and respect the Earth. Read more from this week’s dvar tzedek author, Adina Roth, below the jump.
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Standing Up for Global Health On World AIDS Day

The first World AIDS Day – a day dedicated to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS, combating prejudice against people living with the virus, and raising funds to find a cure – was held in 1988. Back then AIDS was still pretty new in public consciousness.

Today, 23 years later, AIDS is a recognized global epidemic. An estimated 33 million people are living with HIV across the world – 1.2 of them live in the United States and the majority (22.5 million) live in Africa. While great advances have been made in diminishing taboos, educating people about HIV prevention, and finding treatments that help people living with the virus, there is still much work to be done a vast majority of people living with the virus lack access to the resources, medications, or health care that they need.

World AIDS Day kicks off AIDS Awareness Month during the month of December. December is also the month of Hanukkah – a holiday focused on miracles, perseverance, and creating light within the darkness. Help bring the light and hope of Hanukkah into AIDS Awareness Month by participating in one of the service opportunities below.

  • Learn more about the impact of HIV/AIDS by checking out the World AIDS Day website (based in the UK), AIDS.gov (based in the US), or this report, put out by AJWS.
  • Plan an event in your area this month to help raise awareness or funds (or both) for HIV/AIDS research and education. (Find resources here.)
  • Donate to Housing Works an HIV/AIDS advocacy, awareness and education organization.
  • Donate to American Jewish World Service, which works with  partners across Africa and other countries to find on-the-ground solutions to the HIV/AIDS crisis. Check out more of their work in the video below.

How is your community planning to commemorate World AIDS Day and AIDS Awareness Month? Let us know in the comments below!

Torah Tidbit: A Taste of the Week’s Portion Chayei Sarah 5772

This Torah Tidbit is brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Check out the full dvar tzedek on which this excerpt is based at AJWS.

What do we do when tragedy strikes? How should we react – both to the tragedies we experience personally, and one’s we see from afar? Sometimes it seems like everyday the news has another sad story to share – of famine or war, injustice or environmental degradation. When we hear about these things, is it better to get riled up with anger and outrage, or numb ourselves to the pain and carry on?

This week’s Torah portion, Chayei Sarah, asks just that. It tells the story of Sarah’s emotional death following the near-sacrifice of her son Isaac, and of her husband Abraham’s response (according to the sage Rashi) to marry Isaac so that his lineage lives on.

Read more from this week’s dvar tzedek author, Wendi Geffen, below the jump.
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Torah Tidbit: A Taste of This Week’s Portion – Vayera 5772

This Torah Tidbit is brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Check out the full dvar tzedek on which this excerpt is based at AJWS.

This week’s Torah portion, Vayera, is the stuff of Hollywood movies – an epic tale of right and wrong, and the story of one man fighting against the odds to stand up for what he believes in. Vayera recounts the story of Abraham (played here by a bedraggled George Clooney, naturally) trying to convince God not to destroy the people of Sodom and Gomorrah for their moral corruptness. In doing so, he puts his own relationship with God – not to mention his own life – on the line.

Read more from this week’s dvar tzedek author, Leil Leibovitz, below the jump – but be warned, there are some serious spoiler alerts in there.
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Torah Tidbit: A Taste of The Week’s Portion, Noach 5772

This Torah Tidbit is brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). For more info, check out the full dvar tzedek on which this excerpt is based over at AJWS’s website.

This week’s Torah portion, Noach, tells one of the Torah’s best-known stories. It’s as archetypal as stories get: people behaving badly, a flood comes, an ark is built, a dove flies, and a vow from God appears in the form of a rainbow. (No, not a double rainbow.)

But beneath all of the rich imagery, at it’s heart, the portion tells the story of covenant and holding up our end of a bargain. And it reminds us that we are partners in the work of making the world a just and beautiful place.

This week’s Dvar Tzedek author, David Singer, writes:

The rainbow is not merely a symbol of covenant and God’s promise not to destroy the world; it is a Divine invitation for humanity to deal hands-on with this world’s injustices ourselves. While some generations take up the call on their own, most—including our own—need the reminder. Each of us blessed with the privilege of witnessing a rainbow’s beauty is called upon to take personal responsibility for ensuring the eradication of injustice in our world…Parshat Noach is a call to action, to commit ourselves to the work of bringing justice to those corners of the Earth that lack it, and to inspiring the rest of our community to act hand-in-hand.

Read the rest of David’s inspiring dvar torah here.

Gear Up for Global Hunger Shabbat, Nov 4th

Do you know where you’re having dinner on Friday, November 4th? (Because, doesn’t everyone coordinate their Shabbat dinners a week in advance?) If you’re still firming up plans, make sure you get yourself an invite – or start inviting people to your house – for Global Hunger Shabbat.

Sponsored by Repair the World grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS), Global Hunger Shabbat is one of the foundational aspects of AJWS’s year-round global hunger campaign. According to the website, it’s a “weekend of nationwide solidarity, learning and reflection around food justice” meant to serve as a springboard to “meaningful action over the following weeks and months…and mobilize the American Jewish community in the fight for food justice.” The fun begins with dinner on November 4th and continues for the next 18 days of food justice-action and service leading up to Thanksgiving.

Intrigued, but not sure how to plug in? Or are you interested in attending or hosting a Shabbat dinner, but not sure where to start? AJWS has made it easy to get involved, providing educational materials to bring to the Shabbat table and resources linking food justice and Jewish global citizenship, as well as tools and action ideas for the 18 days following the dinner.

There are more than 200 communities currently signed up to celebrate Global Hunger Shabbat across the country (more than 10 of them are interfaith meals). Click here to find a Global Hunger Shabbat meal with an open seat at the table near you. And keep informed on the issues all year round with AJWS’s food and justice blog, Global Voices.