Repair the World’s Focus on Jewish Education
January 31st, 2023
Every year, tens of thousands of Jewish young adults serve with Repair the World, addressing pressing local needs while tying their service directly to Jewish wisdom and teachings. For many of these young adults, service is their entry point to Jewish life; Repair engages them at the critical intersection of service, Jewish learning, and the shared passion for a more just world.
Repair’s approach to Jewish education has always been at the heart of their work. In recent years, they deepened their commitment to their Jewish educational strategy, elevating service as a bold expression of engaging in Jewish life. The organization set out to build a culture and strategy that centers Jewish education and works toward ingraining Jewish service in support of social change as a cornerstone of Jewish life.
Repair recognized at the beginning of this process that they would need to commit fully to this shift, naming their education strategy a top organizational priority and aligning budgets and hiring accordingly. They created new organizational values that centered the core Jewish values that drive their work, and built an adaptive strategic plan to ensure consistency in Jewish education throughout its programming. Repair’s multi-step process to evaluate, ideate, and create this culture led to new organizational partnerships, resources and education tools, and a multi-year educational strategy created in deep partnership with M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education. Now, every act of service powered by Repair builds meaningful connections to Jewish service, Jewish culture and community, and participants’ commitments to their own Jewish selfhood.
There is no question that the education and learning component of our approach to service enhances the experience, creating an opportunity for young adults to learn more about justice issues and the many ways Judaism has addressed each of these issues. For many, Repair the World is their Jewish community, giving us the chance to draw meaningful connections and learning together, both from a Jewish educational standpoint and from one another. As our Jewish Education Team continues to provide us with incredible resources, I have no doubt our impact will only strengthen in the future.
– Samantha Berinsky, Atlanta City Director, Repair the World
Repair understood that to pursue this new strategy, its professional team would have to include people who are experts in Jewish education. In 2021, Rabbi Jessy Dressin joined Repair as the senior director of Jewish education. She received the support and resources to build a team of talented and experienced educators who are critical to actualizing the strategy. Under Rabbi Jessy and her team’s leadership, Repair collaborates with consultants and leading Jewish educators to facilitate learning for all Repair staff.
Repair’s new Jewish educational strategy focuses first on training and supporting staff to feel confident and empowered in developing and delivering Jewish service-learning content. One new resource for staff is the Repair Facilitator’s Toolkit, a 38-card deck of “grab and go” cards that equip facilitators with key resources to connect participants to Jewish service. This toolkit includes a series of “core tensions” cards that help to engage with the broader landscape of questions and considerations that arise when people participate in direct service. Repair explicitly leans into these core tensions, such as tradition vs. renewal, to deepen participants’ connection to their service and Jewish values.
This investment supports staff who lead Jewish learning on their journey from new to experienced facilitators. Other Repair investments in Jewish education include one-on-one chevruta learning through the Jewish Learning Collaborative (JLC) in partnership with Moishe House, quarterly facilitator workshops, monthly meetings for program staff to collaborate, regular Torah l’shma (learning for its own sake) opportunities for staff, and more.
My favorite part of Repair’s programming has always been the opportunity it holds to spark transformation. I can think of so many “aha” moments participants have had, not only during the service itself, but after being exposed to a new piece of contextual Jewish education. In my work now, I supervise alumni who are creating these gatherings for their own communities. I couldn’t be more excited to bring these new Jewish education resources to them. It’ll allow for a deeper and broader exposure to Jewish service-learning, as well as a more accessible leadership opportunity for alumni who have never facilitated something like this before.
– Rose Capin, Alumni Engagement Associate, Repair the World
This internal culture shift at Repair is resulting in a profoundly deepened Jewish experience for participants and partners. By investing first in building strong Jewish educators and facilitators, Repair is laying a strong and sustainable foundation for Jewish service nationwide. The effects of this investment are already shining through, as 84% of participants said that serving with Repair provided them with an entry point to do good in the world through a Jewish lens. By connecting participants’ service and experience directly to enriching Jewish education, Repair is creating a Jewish community coalescing around the commitment to repairing the world through service.
Learn more at werepair.org. The Jim Joseph Foundation is a funder of Repair the World.