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Archive for : MLK Day

How Did You Turn the Tables on MLK Day?

Pardon us while we kvell for a minute here, but MLK Day weekend was completely awesome. All over the country, people spent the day showing up and pitching in – volunteering in their communities to celebrate the legacy and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Repair the World was no exception. Our Turn the Tables campaign inspired more than 120 hosts and 1,000 guests to sit down for a Shabbat dinner to discuss racial injustices and civil rights. Meanwhile, it gave 700 volunteers an opportunity to plug into meaningful service projects across our five partner communities (Detroit, New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh) and beyond.

Added up, that’s a lot of great minds and even more capable hands, coming together to stand up for justice and strong communities. As participant Rebecca Haskell in Oakland, California commented, “Turn the Tables provided time and space for people to broach a subject that we otherwise wouldn’t and talk about our thoughts, questions, and concerns.” We can’t think of a better way to honor Dr. King’s life and work.

If you joined in one of Repair the World’s Turn the Tables events (or if you did something else amazing to celebrate MLK Day), we want to hear from you! Leave us a comment below, or tweet us @repairtheworld.

Turn the Tables on MLK Day with Repair the World

“What is it America has failed to hear? …It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King’s heroic legacy of advancing civil and human rights in America lives on, even nearly 50 years after his death. But in recent months, whether in Ferguson, Missouri, Staten Island, New York, or countless other cities and towns across the country, there have been too many reminders that the work to ensure justice and freedom for all our country’s citizens is far from complete.

That is why this year, in honor of MLK Day, Repair the World is launching Turn the Tables – an initiative that promotes the principles at the center of Dr. King’s ideology, and works towards the promise of a more just society. The road ahead is long, so we must walk it together.

There are two ways to get involved over MLK Day weekend:

Host a Shabbat Supper
On January 16, turn your table into a forum for conversations about justice. Shabbat has traditionally been a sacred weekly time for Jews to gather with those closest to them. Repair the World invites everyone to use the Shabbat before MLK day as an opportunity to break bread and reflect on racial injustice issues that are on the minds of Americans following the tragic events in Ferguson, Staten Island and elsewhere.

Take Action
MLK Day is a nationally recognized Day of Service. On January 19, join thousands of Americans across the country in making our communities stronger and standing up to the challenges of racial inequality in meaningful and tangible ways. Sign up to make the commitment to make a difference for a cause you care about.

Learn more about Repair the World’s Turn the Tables initiative and get access to tons of resources for MLK Day and beyond.

DC Jews react on Obama inauguration, honor MLK with service

Monday’s 57th Presidential Inauguration officially sent off Barack Obama into a second term as America’s 44th President and the country’s first African American commander-in-chief. After being formally sworn in Sunday at the White House, Obama gave his inaugural address to about one million people Monday, according to a recent White House estimate. This day also coincided with Martin Luther King Day.

Click photo to download. Caption: Framed by the classic arches of the Capitol balcony, President Barack Obama delivered his second inaugural address Jan. 21, 2013. Credit: Maxine Dovere.In addition to participating in inauguration-weekend activism and service events, members of the Washington D.C. Jewish community shared with JNS.org a variety of views on the President’s reelection and upcoming second term.

In the 1960s Jewish activists, such as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, collaborated with Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement. Nearly half a century later, the Friday before the presidential inauguration, a women’s leadership event, the Women’s Leadership Network luncheon of the National Jewish Democratic Council, kicked off the inaugural weekend in Jewish Washington. The discussion panel included former White House Communications Director Ann Lewis, Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) and The Jerusalem Post Washington Bureau Chief Hilary Krieger.

It was “one of the most inspirational events I’ve attended in a very long time,” Click photo to download. Caption: First Lady Michelle Obama embraces her husband the President immediately following his public swearing in Jan. 21, 2013. Credit: Maxine Dovere.NJDC board member Barbara Goldberg Goldman told JNS.org.  “Proud Jewish women of all ages came together to share their desire to perform tikun olam and make a difference in the world in which they live.“

Goldman isn’t worried about Obama’s recent decision to nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) for defense secretary in the president’s second term. Hagel has made controversial statements such as “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people in Congress,” and critics are concerned with his questionable record on Israel.

Hagel’s “record has been distorted and twisted,” she said, and President Obama is “has done more for Israeli defense than any other president,” she said.

As the 57th Presidential inauguration unfolded Jewish U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) spoke of the “American tradition of transferring or re-affirming the immense power of the United States…as an enduring symbol of the American democracy.”

But even among those attending inaugural functions, not all members of the Washington D.C. Jewish community supported the President and his policies. One law student and Republican named Dan, who asked not to reveal his last name, spoke with JNS.org at a special Inaugural Ball organized by the Washington D.C. JCC Monday. He is deeply concerned with the on-going growth of social assistance programs he feels remove individual responsibility and harm the American work ethic. “The drive to succeed will disappear,” he said. But “even if I don’t agree, you’ve got to see democracy in action, and hope that people will stand together to make the country grow,” he added.

Though Obama did not mention Israel in his inaugural address, the President emphasized his administration “will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.”

However, just recently Jewish American columnist Jeffrey Goldberg reported Obama has said in private conversations that “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are” when it comes to construction beyond the Green Line. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded in an interview that he is “confident that President Obama understands that only a sovereign Israeli government can determine what Israel’s interests are.”

Senior Online Editor of Commentary magazine Jonathan S. Tobin recently wrote that “there are good reasons to believe that tension between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will continue to simmer during their respective terms. The disconnect between the president’s view of the region and the consensus of the overwhelming majority of Israelis about the future of the peace process has created a gap between the two countries that continues to cause trouble. The fact that the two men don’t like each other also doesn’t help.”

Scott Perlo, rabbi and associate director of Jewish programming at the historic Washington, D.C. Synagogue Sixth and I, is also less certain about the President’s second term but optimistic.

“I am conscious of the stratified society and social and economic inequities…Whatever your feelings are about the election, the new president is a vindication of the fact the democratic process works,” Perlo said.

Click photo to download. Caption: Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C. Credit: David Monack via Wikimedia Commons.The Sixth and I synagogue’s combined Moorish, Romanesque, and Byzantine-styled building was dedicated in 1908. After the congregation moved to another location, the building became a church, but was returned to the Jewish community in 2000. The building was restored, and now functions not only as a synagogue but also as a venue for lectures and exhibitions.

Inaugural festivities at the historic shul began with a January 16 NPR “Political Junkie Road Show” hosted by Neal Conan and Ken Rudin. “We have people whose perspective tends to be an inside-the-belt-way one. If you were a Jew in America in the 80’s, the presumption was you were a Democrat, but strongly pro-Israel.  That demography is changing,” Perlo said.

Leading up to the inauguration Washington’s Jewish community also participated in the National Day of Service Saturday. Erica Steen, Director of Community Engagement at the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center (JCC), spent Shabbat afternoon at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Fair in the National Mall speaking with thousands of participating visitors about the outreach efforts of the Washington Jewish community. Repair the World, a New York City organization dedicated to Jewish community service, also represented the Jewish community at the fair.

Among the beneficiaries of the JCC’s outreach efforts is the Temporary Emergency Residential Resource institute for Families In Crisis (TERRIFIC, Inc.).  As part of inaugural weekend activities, more than twenty-five volunteers painted and repaired apartments for homeless families.

“It’s a community weekend,” Steen said, “an opportunity for the nation to come together to celebrate the presidential inauguration, remember Martin Luther King and really give back to the community.”

“Judaism believes strongly in service – a basic critical elements of what makes someone a Jew… a sense of obligation to make the world a better place,” Perlo added.

Gil Steinlauf, Senior Rabbi of Washington’s largest Conservative congregation Adas Israel, said “it is a great honor to be attending the inauguration, representing one of the oldest congregations in the District – truly a joy and a celebration.” Both American Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, and Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, attend the synagogue, he said.

Click photo to download. Caption: As U.S. President Barack Obama prepared to take the oath of office, the United States Marine Band lifted spirits and emotions at the 57th inauguration ceremonies. Credit: Maxine Dovere.Steinlauf believes Obama’s selection of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, “is of concern” and “attention must be paid.” Although he is optimistic about “the United States’ continued support for Israel” and does not think we will see “some of the alarmist situations that some in the Jewish community fear,” he said, “the President will pose certain challenges,” Perlo agreed.

 

 

It’s not too late to live the legacy! Sign up for MLK Shabbat Supper today

MLK Suppers

From Washington State to Washington Heights, we’ve been blown away by the response to our Shabbat Suppers initiative.

In case you haven’t heard it through the grapevine, Repair the World is partnering with Points of Light, NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation, and hosts just like you to bring the issue of education inequality to the table. Your kitchen table, that is.

By signing up to host a Shabbat Supper, you won’t just be inviting your friends over for a great meal. You’ll be hosting a conversation around the legacy of Dr. King, education inequality, and how you can take action to make your community a better place.

And we’re here to help you make it happen with our toolkit to guide you through the discussion! Be sure to sign-up by 12pm Eastern on Wednesday, January 16th to receive your toolkit via snail mail.

Even if you miss the deadline, you can receive a digital toolkit which contains two discussion activities, and an access code to screen the fabulous documentary Brooklyn Castle (before it comes out on DVD!) by emailing [email protected]!

Make a Difference Without Leaving Your Living Room!

MLK SuppersBeyond posting an inspirational quote on facebook, when was the last time you did something meaningful on MLK Day?

We know you’re busy. And we know that your three-day weekend is sacred (and that you probably deserve the break!). But did you know that for over 15 years, MLK Day has been celebrated as a day of service by millions of Americans? Here at Repair, our team has partnered with NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation, and with one of the organizations who pioneered the MLK Day of Service, the Points of Light Institute, to offer you a way to join the movement from the comfort of your own home!

MLK SHABBAT SUPPERS. JANUARY 18th. YOUR PLACE.

Repair is challenging you to become part of the living legacy of Dr. King by turning your kitchen table into a table of brotherhood the weekend of January 18th. Through our Shabbat Suppers initiative, you will be sent the tools to transform Friday night with friends into an opportunity for social action.

It’s ok if you’ve never held a Shabbat dinner. We know that not everyone “does” Shabbat. But you’ve gotta eat! Use this event, and this toolkit, as a foundation for a meaningful meal – whatever that means to you.

Shabbat Suppers will take many forms. They might be talks over take-out Chinese or screening parties with your friends from college. Some folks will have sit-down brisket dinners with friends of different faiths, and others will have potluck style meals in tiny apartments. At all of these events, food might get your guests in the door, but it’s the discussion will bring you together.

A SUPER COOL KIT…

On this year’s plate (we couldn’t help ourselves…) is of the defining civil rights issues of our time: education inequality. Once you sign-up as a host, Repair will send you a real, live toolkit via snail mail. These toolkits will contain a discussion guide, Repair swag for your guests, and a T-shirt as a thank you (just for you)!

Our discussion guide bears absolutely no resemblance to your AP Government textbook. Instead, it offers simple questions, real facts, and easy to enforce ground rules so that you can host a dynamic (and respectful) conversation around education and the legacy of Dr. King.

We want to arm you with the facts, and the tools to act on them. In honor of the MLK Day of Service, you will also receive information on how you can make a difference in the lives of public school children all over the country!

JOIN US!

Excited? Sign-up HERE to become a host, and we’ll send you a toolkit for free!

And there’s more exciting news for Birthright Israel alumni! Through our friends at NEXT, you can receive funding for your Shabbat Supper through the NEXT Shabbat program. Register your meal, and you will be able to click a box to receive our free toolkit.

As always, we want to hear you from you! Tell us about your Shabbat Supper plans, or send us a question, by emailing [email protected]

“Shabbat Suppers” for MLK Day

During his lifetime Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked tirelessly toward a dream of equality. He believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service (January 16) is a way to transform Dr. King’s life and teachings into community service that helps solve problems. MLK Day programs meet tangible needs, such as revitalizing schools and feeding the homeless; but also build a sense of community and mutual responsibility by spurring conversation. On this day, Americans of every age and background celebrate Dr. King through volunteering and unite to strengthen communities, empower individuals and bridge barriers.

In commemoration of Martin Luther King Day, the Hands on Network and Points of Light Foundation are rallying people across the country to organize “Sunday Suppers” – communal dinners that bring together people from diverse backgrounds to share a meal and discuss the issues that impact their community.

We at Repair the World love the idea of gathering around the table for conversation, of commemoration and, well, having a special meal. We also think it sounds a lot like Shabbat. In that spirit, we invite you to also host or organize a Shabbat Supper on Friday 1/13, and set aside some time during your dinner to remembering King’s inspirational legacy, and talking about how to bring it forward to today.

And guess what–there are even some Gift Certificates in it for you!

HOW IT WORKS:

  1. Register your  Supper here and list Repair the World as your organization  The  Supper can take place anytime between now and MLK Day.  After you register, you will receive the toolkit with easy instructions on how to plan your  Supper.
  2. Let us know that you’re doing it!  We’ll send you a code for a Gift Certificate* at Restaurants.com!
  3. Contribute a photo or post to our Repair the World Facebook page and and let us know!

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES

 

*while supplies last