Building Jewish Community through Volunteer Service; Repair the World

March 31st, 2016

Repair the World (RTW) was founded in 2009 to make meaningful service a defining element of American Jewish life. It is the only organization devoted exclusively to mobilizing young Jews to volunteer in tackling pressing local needs. In fall 2013, Repair the World launched its signature program, Repair the World Communities, in four cities: Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. New York City was added, also as a pilot, in fall 2015, following a year of site development. In each of these communities, a full-time City Director oversees the program and its base of operations, known as “the Workshop.˝ Each City Director supports a cohort of fellows (ages 21-26) who make an eleven-month commitment to volunteer and study while they accomplish their core mission to recruit and engage Jewish young adults in volunteering and service-related activities. Communities focuses primarily on two causes that resonate with Jewish millennials— education and food justice—and uses volunteering as a way to engage with these issues.

Before launching Communities in 2013, Repair contracted an Independent Evaluation of the program’s impact to be performed at the end of 2015. This report shares the fresh results, informative to anyone working to engage young Jewish adults or to design meaningful service opportunities, such as:

  • Done right, service attracts large numbers of “unaffiliated” young adult Jews.
  • Service through a Jewish lens can be “sticky” and keep participants engaged.
  • Participants build new forms of Jewish communities around their service.
  • Service connects meaningfully to Jewish identity formation and Jewish values.

Building Jewish Community through Volunteer Service – Repair the World Communities: Summary Report on the Independent Evaluation, March 2016