When most people think of holidays, they think of annual celebrations. But in Judaism there is one holiday that is celebrated every week: the Sabbath, beginning at sunset on Friday and concluding Saturday evening.
Known in Hebrew as Shabbat and in Yiddish as Shabbos, this holiday is central to Jewish Life. Voluntarism, study of the Torah and “repairing the world,” are the primary focus of those who celebrate Shabbat.
On Friday, January 15, during Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, close to 150 young volunteers and organizational leaders of all ethnic backgrounds across Central Brooklyn will gather for a special Shabbat dinner where, together, everyone will reflect on the problems most pressing in their communities and how they can best be of service.
The event is the brainchild of Repair the World, a national non-profit organization founded in 2008 and rooted in Jewish values, whose aim is to connect willing individuals with meaningful service opportunities to volunteer “with frequency and depth” in their own communities.
Repair the World operates programs in four cities— New York, Philly, Detroit and Pittsburgh. The New York operation opened a new office in May 2015, at 808 Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights and has enlisted eight, local program “fellows,” all recent college graduates, who have committed one year of their life to full-time service in the neighborhoods of Central Brooklyn.
“We knew we wanted to open an office in New York City, but the question was where,” said Cindy Greenberg, director of Repair the World NYC. “We deferred to local leadership when we chose Central Brooklyn, because we felt like there were tremendous social needs here and also a wonderful opportunity to build bridges between long-term residents and those who were just moving here.”
The organization’s service focus is on education justice and food justice, two areas where young volunteers could best be of service. In Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy, the organization has partnered with wide coalition of Jewish organizations and local social service agencies, including UJA Federation of New York, Brooklyn Community Services, Muslims Against Hunger, Reading Partners, Achievement First and Digital Girl, just to name a few. The organization is preparing now for an urban agriculture project where it will launch a farm crew, a group of volunteers who regularly go to work at local community farms.
As part of Repair the World’s national initiative “Act for Racial Justice” campaign, young adults in Brooklyn and Manhattan will volunteer, learn and recruit other peer volunteers throughout MLK Weekend 2016 to address one of the most urgent issues today: racial justice.
“Young adults crave opportunities to create real, tangible social change in our community,” said Greenberg. “Act for Racial Justice brings different parts of our community together, engaging local groups and people on important issues and helping those in need.”
Volunteers of all ages will engage in direct service for one or more of over 30 different opportunities, including packing meals for the hungry, painting a mural at a local school, hosting a party for residents of a women’s shelter, and more. Volunteers can find specific projects here.
Also during that weekend, the organization will host “We Are Allies: An MLK Shabbat Supper about Racial Justice” featuring two perspectives on the Jewish community by two allies for racial justice– Tynesha McHarris, senior consultant at the NoVo Foundation, and Rabbi Rachel Timoner, Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim.
“Racial justice is in the headlines, and everybody’s talking about it, so we’ll be discussing what we can do,” said Greenberg. “The idea with the dinner is to organize the community to lead a conversation and think about how to take action in a time injustice.”
The “We Are Allies” Sabbath will take place on Friday, January 15, 7:45pm at the Picnic House in Prospect Park. Advanced reservations are required. To reserve your space, go here.
To volunteer with the “Act for Racial Justice” campaign or get involved with Repair the World, go here.