Archive for : jewish

Repair Inspiration: Two Girls, One Jewish and One Muslim, Share a Stage

It’s Throwback Thursday, and we’ve got a very worthy throwback for you! Last year, two young women got up on stage at the Brave New Voices poetry slam in Washington DC. One, Hannah Halpern, is Jewish. The other, Amina Iro, is Muslim. They were there to co-recite a spoken word poem – one with a powerful message of tolerance, unity, and finding strength within our differences.

BNV is a project of Youth Speaks, a San Francisco-based organization that works to advance the intellectual and artistic development of young people, while amplifying their voices. As you’ll see in the video below, Halpern and Iro’s voices were definitely amplified – and the result is nothing short of amazing.

Interfaith understanding, awesome poetry, and two smart and fabulously talented women sharing their stories – what more could you want? Watch and cheer!

Find out more about the Brave New Voice sslam and Youth Speaks at their website.

Host a Rosh Hashanah Seder With the Schusterman Family Foundation

Got plans for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year? Whether you love apples and honey, thrill at the sound of the shofar, or love that extra sense of sacredness floating through the air this time of year, now is the time to make sure you start the high holiday season on, well, a high note.

This year, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation has created the perfect opportunity to do just that. They are offering micro grants of up to $300 for people to host Rosh Hashanah seders in their homes.

So what’s a Rosh Hashanah seder? It is a lesser known fact that just like Passover, Rosh Hashanah has its own seder tradition. This seder (or ritual meal) is centered around symbolic foods that represent important themes of the High Holiday and blessings for the year ahead. Together, these symbolic foods and their corresponding blessings are called simanim.

The Rosh Hashanah seder provides a platform to learn about a unique Jewish tradition. At the same time, everyone has the opportunity to claim it as their own by thinking of their own hopes for the upcoming year and voicing them through simanim blessings in an individualized, modern and sometimes humorous spin.

Sound like your kind of holiday celebration? Find out more details and submit an application before September 5.

Repair Inspiration: Masbia Soup Kitchen

Since 2005, Masbia – a soup kitchen in Brooklyn – has been providing hot, nutritious, kosher meals for Jewish families in need and the broader community. In the last year alone, they provided more than 800,000 meals, engaging hundreds of regular and one-time volunteers along the way.

Recently, Masbia got some much deserved love from NationSwell. They write: “Dignified surroundings, and healthy, comforting meals, raise Masbia above the standard, a welcome reminder that seeking help with food doesn’t have to be a gloomy affair.”

Check out their video, and meet their awesome chef, below, then read the whole article over at Nation Swell.

Want to help? Sign up for a volunteer shift or make a donation to support Masbia’s work.

Seasons of Giving: Where to Volunteer This Christmas?

It may not be a Jewish holiday, but Christmas still has Jewish traditions. Like watching movies. And eating at Chinese restaurants. And volunteering! All around the country, thousands of Jews take advantage of the day off, and volunteer at soup kitchens, shelters, nursing homes, and community centers.

This year, join in the holiday action! Here are a few great ways to plug in and volunteer this Christmas.

Washington DC JCC Join 1,000 other volunteers for a day of service on Christmas Day. Activities include everything from wrapping and delivering gifts, to serving meals, to performing songs for hospital patients.

Jewish Muslim Day of Service, St. Louis In this uniquely awesome event on Christmas Day, Jews and Muslims come together on Christmas to serve others. They are also running a huge toiletry drive to serve people in need.

Pittsburgh Christmas Mitzvah Day The Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh is organizing a huge mitzvah day on Christmas. There will be opportunities to care for the sick, volunteer at an animal shelter, feed hungry people – and more.

Jewish Volunteer Connection, Baltimore Join hundreds of volunteers in making the holiday brighter for others by participating in this mitzvah day. Opportunities include making and delivering care packages, welcoming home troops serving abroad, volunteering at a local shelter.

JUF Mitzvah Mania, Chicago On Dec 25, visit elderly residents at the CJE SeniorLife Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation as part of JUF’s mitzvah mania event.

Tikun: Light up a Life, London If you live in London and want to make a difference during the Christmas season, check out Tikun’s great, multi-day program. Activities include everything from bringing chocolates to seniors, arts and crafts projects with the disabled, and tea runs for the homeless.

Know of another great volunteer opportunity for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld.

Sandy Relief Interview: Rami Matan Even-Esh, AKA: Kosha Dillz

beverlydillzVolunteer: Kosha Dillz

Who he is:  Israeli-American Jewish hip hop artist

Rami Matan Even-Esh, better known by his stage name Kosha Dillz, is an Israeli-American rapper who is no stranger to the East Coast. Although he spent time in both Israel and the U.S. while growing up, Kosha was born in Perth Amboy and has close ties to the Jersey community.

We’re very excited to have had the opportunity to speak with Kosha, and learn more about his experiences during and after Hurricane Sandy hit his hometown.

Why did you decide to volunteer after Sandy?

I was at my family’s home in Manasquan, NJ getting ready to head back to LA when the storm arrived on the East Coast. My town was hit pretty hard and we ended up without power for eleven days. It was a crazy experience because on the one hand it was weird to think that it should take a natural disaster to bring a community together, but on the other hand it was incredible to see the way everyone was so eager to help.

It felt very natural for me to volunteer in Jersey after the Hurricane hit. I felt a very personal connection to the destruction, not only because the storm literally hit close to home, but because I saw first hand the way many of my friends and neighbors were affected, and I knew I of course wanted to help in any way I could.

What did you do in the days following the storm?

I became very involved in the cleanup efforts. I found many different activities to participate in; one day I’d be working in demolition and gutting a ruined house, and the next I’d be making sandwiches and coffee for people in my neighborhood. I also started bringing my dog with me to volunteer. People loved petting him and taking pictures with him, it was nice to be able to bring a little cheer to a neighborhood that was going through something really rough. Cheer is important at a time like this.

Kosha Dillz Sandy Storify

Check out Kosha Dillz’ Sandy Storify here.

How did you respond to your fans that reached out to help?

I’m fortunate to have a great fan base that follows me on social media. It was amazing to be able to tweet, Facebook, or Instagram something about a particular area needing help, and then being able to see that tweet or post spread throughout my fan-base, to their friends, to friends of friends, to people not just in our neighborhood but from all over, all getting involved and offering time, services, or money to help.

Has your volunteer work had an impact on your life or music?

Going through Sandy and getting involved in the recovery efforts has definitely influenced both my life and music. I feel that this experience has really caused a lot of self-reflection. You start to think about what is most important to you, and in my case I know that giving has always been a priority.

Back when the earthquake hit Haiti for example, we did a tour to raise money for relief efforts, and that was one of my favorite experiences. I also recently did a show in Brooklyn; we passed around a bucket for Sandy donations, and people gave what they could, every little bit helps.

Anytime I can use my music to give back definitely represents some of the most fulfilling times in my life; I feel the best when I have the chance to make a meaningful impact, and this most recent experience with the storm has re-sparked that desire within me.

What do you most want to share about your experience?

My immediate takeaway was that getting involved in both donating money and time were equally meaningful. It’s great to be able to get involved in the physical work (making sandwiches, cleaning out houses) and I loved doing it, but I think it’s also important to note that giving monetary donations, or getting involved in other ways in the future is important as well. People will continue to need many things after the initial response has died down, so I think it’s important to follow Facebook and Twitter feeds of smaller groups, like the Occupy movement, for ways to stay updated and involved.

I’d also really like to emphasize that the point of volunteering is not to be recognized or thanked, but to help in a meaningful way. That is what I tried to do and what I hope to encourage others to continue to do.

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A huge thanks to Kosha Dillz for taking the time to speak with us about his experiences.

Be sure to check out his songs, and consider donating to his Kickstarter to support the upcoming documentary “Kosha Dillz is Everywhere.” 

 

Sukkot: The Original House Party

This post was created in partnership with NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation. Repair the World teamed up with NEXT’s Sukkot Holiday Guide to offer ways you can give back this holiday season. Find out how below. 

Sukkot is the Jewish calendar’s official “house party” holiday. During the week-long celebration, people invite friends and family over to eat in their Sukkahs and stargaze through the roof, which is made of natural materials woven loosely enough so that the stars peek through at night. Some particularly hearty folks even sleep in their Sukkahs!

With all its focus on the outdoors, Sukkot also gives us a chance to think more deeply about a basic human need: shelter—and about our good fortune in having permanent housing. On any given day, nearly 700,000 Americans have no home in which to sleep. And according to United Nations estimates, nearly 1 billion people worldwide live in inadequate or unsafe housing situations like slums.

During Sukkot, we have a week-long opportunity to fulfill the Jewish obligation to “welcome the stranger” into our temporary dwellings. Although this custom is rarely taken literally, it reminds us to remember the needs of others in the midst of our celebration. In that same spirit, check out these resources and organizations working to fight homelessness in America and abroad:

LEARN MORE

  • On1Foot – Find out more about the Jewish tradition’s views on homelessness and hospitality during Sukkot from AJWS’ social justice text database. (Search “Sukkot”)
  • My Jewish Learning – Read about the Jewish mandate that everyone have access to adequate and permanent housing.
  • National Coalition for the Homeless – Find more statistical information about homelessness in America.
  • Sulam Center – Check out this comprehensive round up of Jewish texts relating to homelessness.

GET INVOLVED

  • Habitat for Humanity – A nonprofit organization that builds simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need.
  • Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty – One of New York’s largest human services agencies fighting against poverty, which runs several residencies for people who are homeless throughout the city.
  • National Alliance to End Homelessness – A nationwide federation of public, private and nonprofit organizations all devoted to ending homelessness in America.
  • National Coalition for the Homeless – A national organization advocating for the rights of people who are homeless.
  • Veahavta – A Jewish humanitarian organization in Toronto that runs a “mobile Jewish response to the homeless van,” delivering meals, clothing and support to homeless people across the city.
  • Washington, D.C. JCC – The JCC runs the “Behrend Builders” program, which connects volunteers to service opportunities helping to rebuild low-income family homes, homeless shelters, and other vital community spaces in the city.

More on Sukkot from Repair the World:

Keep your finger on the pulse of service in the Jewish community and beyond: Sign up for Repair the World’s e-newsletter and follow us on twitter and facebook.

Shabbat Service: Who are We Responsible For?

Shabbat Service is a weekly bit of Torah-inspired do-gooding, brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Read on to see how these ancient stories can apply today. Seem far fetched? Check it out:

The story: This week’s parsha (Torah portion), Va’etchanan seems to ask the question, who are we responsible to? Are we supposed to look out for just ourselves and our own interests? People in our family or community? Just other Jews, or the whole world? Where, in other words, are the boundaries of our obligation?

Dvar Tzedek author, Wendi Geffen believes that the parsha – at first – seems to argue for a narrow field of obligation, saying: “Be careful, then, to do as Adonai your God has commanded you. Do not turn aside to the right or the left: follow only the path that Adonai your God has enjoined upon you.”

But on closer inspection, she said, the scope is actually wider than it first appears. A little later the parsha reads: “You should surely keep the mitzvah of Adonai your God; God’s testimonies and statutes that God commanded you. You should do what is hatov v’hayashar (good and right) in the eyes of God.”

The “takeaway”: Geffen writes that most Jewish commentators see that commandment to do what is “good and right” as going beyond the specific commandments, to be just in all of one’s actions and interactions with others. She goes onto explain that the notion of hatov v’hayashar offers a “compelling argument that Jewish sources indeed endorse and mandate our global justice pursuits.”

The “to-do”: Doing service and helping others – both in your community and beyond it – is a “good and right” thing to do, no matter what your personal justification for doing so is. But to have backing and support from the Jewish texts makes the work all the more meaningful and powerful. While there’s no specific “to-do” action step for this week, the parsha serves as a reminder of the importance of examining why we do what we do, and the importance of helping others, no matter who they are.

Read the full Torah commentary, on which this excerpt is based, over at AJWS’ website. And for more great texts, commentary and Jewish learning resources on social justice, check out the On 1 Foot database.