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Archive for : poverty

Repair Interview: Rachel Sumekh of Swipe Out Hunger

Repair the World recently launched our High Holiday campaign, focused on advancing racial justice and building relationships between communities. There are many different ways to get involved (Learn about the root causes of racial injustice in America. Host or attend a Turn the Tables dinner. Take action in solidarity with our neighbors as a multiracial Jewish community.) – and we encourage you to explore them all.

Meanwhile, we will be introducing you to some of our favorite change makers. Here’s Rachel Sumekh, the Founding Executive Director of Swipe Out Hunger. Sumekh co-founded the organization – which lets students donate unused points from university meal plans to feed peers and community members facing hunger – during her sophomore year at UCLA. Today, Swipe Out Hunger exists on 23 campuses across the country, and is changing the conversation about poverty and food insecurity on college campuses. Read on…

What was the inspiration behind Swipe Out Hunger?
It started out because we were annoyed with the university for creating meal plans where students who had excess points at the end of a semester lost them. It began informally, with students going into dining halls and buying meals to go, then giving them to homeless and other food insecure people. But the university had some issues with this model. Fortunately, rather than stopping us, they said we should develop a new model. Today, if a student has extra meal swipes, they can opt into the Swipe Out Hunger program and convert that money into resources to help food insecure students.

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Torah Tidbit: A Taste of The Week’s Portion Vayishlach 5770

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.

In Hollywood, happy endings are pretty much guaranteed. In life – not so much. This week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach, tells the story of Jacob and Esau: two feuding brothers meeting for the first time in years. (The reason for the rift? Jacob stole first-born Esau’s blessing and birthright from their father Isaac. Kind of a big deal.)

At the meeting, Jacob brings his brother lots of apology gifts – camels, goats, cattle you know, the usual stuff – in hopes that the bounty will make up for everything he took years before. But, as this week’s dvar tzedek author, Leil Lebovitz writes, “In putting together his gift, it doesn’t occur to Jacob that his brother—who he knows had, since their last parting, grown wealthy and powerful—might have no use for all these animals. Jacob isn’t thinking rationally; he just wants the problem to go away.”

Leil goes on to say how this story of Jacob and Esau’s reunion can offer insight to those of us concerned with global hunger. Read on to find out how:

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Repair the World’s Top 10 Posts for Sukkot

The eight-day holiday of Sukkot – the “Feast of Tabernacles” – recalls the Israelites’ fragile dwellings during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after their exodus from slavery in Egypt.

Beginning at sundown on October 12, this “hut holiday” has many service and social justice themes: it is a joyous festival, which celebrates a healthy harvest and an appreciation for nature; it also encourages us to embrace shelter – even if it is just a hut – as both a blessing and a basic human right, and reminds us to be generous to those who are less fortunate.

Sukkot may only be eight days long, but we know these themes last year round. For some holiday inspiration, check out Repair the World’s Top 10 posts from 5771/2011 on homelessness, poverty and hunger, as well as sustainable agriculture and the environment — and share them at your sukkah tables!

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Repairing Hunger

In honor of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, we’re looking at what Judaism teaches about hunger, and exploring the ways in which young Jews around the country are working to address this enduring problem.

Repair Interview: A Superhero Unmasked

Superheroes Anonymous began in 2007 when Ben Goldman saw a flyer in a comic book shop, which advertised a meeting for real-life superheroes. He and Chaim Lazaros, who were then Columbia University film students, had been searching for a project and decided to do a documentary about average people who put on costumes and perform service around their respective communities — whether it is keeping the streets clean, patrolling to ensure safety or reaching out to homeless people. They found many of these real life “superheroes” on the Internet through their Myspace profiles.

The pair convened the “superheroes” in New York’s Time Square in 2007, which also marked the founding of Goldman and Lazaros’ group, Superheroes Anonymous. And it was at this meeting that Lazaros, now 26 years old, first appeared as his superhero alter ego, “Life” though in his unmasked day-to-day activities, works at a nonprofit and lives in Harlem.
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PB&J Summit: Poverty, Bread & Justice with BBYO

Volunteering at a soup kitchen or food pantry has long been a popular service activity for teens – easy to organize and meaningful. Now, BBYO is helping teens take the next step with PB&J: Poverty, Bread & Justice: A Jewish Teen Summit on Hunger.

Jewish teens from around the country will convene in Washington, D.C., for five days this summer (Thurs., June 24-Mon., June 28) to discuss today’s most pressing food-related questions. (Hint: There’s more to it than “What’s for dinner?”)
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