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Bring Stories of Healing and Hope to the Rosh Hashanah Table

As Rosh Hashanah draws near (this year the holiday starts on Wednesday, September 24 at sundown), we find ourselves looking for stories of healing and hope. Fortunately, while there have been plenty of tough and disheartening stories in the news recently, there is never a shortage of inspiring news and ideas to go around!

This year, whether you plan to go to synagogue or not, take some time to seek out the good to share at your Rosh Hashanah table – while digging into apples and honey, of course! Here are a few great resources to get you started:

– The Orthodox social justice organization, Uri L’Tzedek created a wonderful publication that focuses on the ethical cultivation of the Jewish self called Mah Ani? Self Reflection and Social Action for the High Holidays.

– Check out American Jewish World Service’s Rosh Hashanah reading, that reflects on the year’s challenges and blessings, and looks forward to the New Year with a renewed sense of hope. AJWS rounded up even more great High Holiday resources – you can access them them on their site.

– The Jewish Environmental organization, Hazon, has a ton of resources, tips, and ideas to share to help make Rosh Hashanah green and delicious.

– Rabbi Yael Ridberg of Congregation Dor Hadash in California wrote a beautiful Rosh Hashanah sermon two years ago that continues to be relevant today. Her message? That we all realize how much more we can achieve as a community than as individuals.

Best wishes for a sweet and happy New Year from everyone at Repair the World!

Remember the Good This 9/11

For many people, the images of 9/11 – the twin towers, the smoke, the flyers of missing loved ones hanging all over the city in the aftermath, the memorial flowers and candles – are forever fixed in our brains. They can be hard images to shake, even 13 Septembers later. But there are other images to remember. Like of people lining up at hospitals to donate blood. Or of first responders putting aside their personal safety and rushing to the scene, or everyday people finding small but significant ways to help and comfort one another.

While it is important to remember 9/11 in its entirety, each year, we have the opportunity to remember the good – to keep in our hearts and elevate the beautiful and overwhelming outpourings of kindness that followed the tragedy. To privilege the memory of good that rose amidst deep pain.

Check out the video below to find out how people are choosing to remember the good this 9/11. How will you? Share your plans and good wishes on the 9/11 Day of Service website.

Read Repair the World’s previous 9/11 coverage, including interviews with first responders:

Butch Brandes & Peter Archer, Jewish First Responders on 9/11

Rabbi Stephen Roberts on Providing Spiritual Service After 9/11

Rabbi Simkha Weintraub On Ongoing Healing After 9/11

Let Interfaith Service Outshine Intolerance and Bigotry

Repair Inspiration: Turning Swimming Pools Into Backyard Farms

With Labor Day come and gone, summer might be past it’s peak, but our minds are still on swimming – or swimming pools, rather! We’re particularly intrigued by this story on Co.Exist about how some folks are transforming their backyard swimming pools into super-productive gardens filled with vegetables, a chicken coop, and even a tilapia fish farm!

Check out the excerpt below, then get the full scoop – and check out the truly awe-inspiring video – over at Co.Exist’s website:

“In the hot summer months, it might be a shame to use a swimming pool for anything other than splashing around in. But then turning your pool into a highly productive growing system is more practical. It’s also cheaper, overall.
Dennis and Danielle McClung pioneered the Growing Pool–a solar-powered aquaponic greenhouse–back in 2009, shortly after buying a foreclosed home in Mesa, Arizona. They didn’t want to spend time and money doing up the eyesore in the backlot. And, besides, they’d always wanted to be more self-sufficient.

Since then, a host of imitators have come up with their own Garden Pools, based onhow-to instructions the McClungs have posted online. Actually, it doesn’t seem that difficult. First, you surround the perimeter with a metal frame and add poles to support a plastic covering. Then, you mount some solar panels to run the water pumps. Then, you put in a chicken coop, tilapia fish (in the deep end) and some plants.

The idea is that chicken waste falls into the tank, which feeds the fish. The fish provide nutrient-rich water, which is pumped to the plants, which grow and feed the McClungs. The whole system uses a fraction of the water employed for soil-based growing–one of the main attractions of aquaponics.”

Read the full story…

Host a Rosh Hashanah Seder With the Schusterman Family Foundation

Got plans for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year? Whether you love apples and honey, thrill at the sound of the shofar, or love that extra sense of sacredness floating through the air this time of year, now is the time to make sure you start the high holiday season on, well, a high note.

This year, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation has created the perfect opportunity to do just that. They are offering micro grants of up to $300 for people to host Rosh Hashanah seders in their homes.

So what’s a Rosh Hashanah seder? It is a lesser known fact that just like Passover, Rosh Hashanah has its own seder tradition. This seder (or ritual meal) is centered around symbolic foods that represent important themes of the High Holiday and blessings for the year ahead. Together, these symbolic foods and their corresponding blessings are called simanim.

The Rosh Hashanah seder provides a platform to learn about a unique Jewish tradition. At the same time, everyone has the opportunity to claim it as their own by thinking of their own hopes for the upcoming year and voicing them through simanim blessings in an individualized, modern and sometimes humorous spin.

Sound like your kind of holiday celebration? Find out more details and submit an application before September 5.

Repair Inspiration: Refrigerators That Don’t Need Electricity

Refrigerators – those blessed, buzzing boxes that keep our ice cubes frozen, our milk unspoiled, and our vegetables crisp – are serious energy hogs. In most homes, they use up more energy than any other appliance, and lead to unintended food waste. Meanwhile, in countries where energy is scarce, the lack of refrigeration can also lead to food waste.

According to an article (and awesome slideshow) on Co.Exist, it doesn’t have to be that way. Check out the excerpt below about a clay fridge by a company called MittiCool that does not require electricity, and read the whole thing on Co.Exist’s website:

Clay Fridges That Keep Food Cool Without Electricity
By: Ben Schiller

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the world wastes an astonishing 1.4 billion tons of food a year. This while plenty of people are still starving, and while many countries spend large percentages of their income to feed themselves.

Reasons for food waste differ from developed to developing worlds. In rich countries, it’s usually the food consumers who are responsible–i.e. people just throwing away excess food that they haven’t eaten or that spoiled before they could. In poorer nations, the problem tends to be in the supply chain. Because of poor refrigeration, food rots during transport or spoils at market stalls because it’s not sold quickly enough.

Made from clay and not needing any power to run, it keeps vegetables fresh for up to a week and can even store dairy, according to Mansukhbhai Prajapati, its Indian inventor.

The fridge is made of a porous type of clay from Gujarat, the region in India where Prajapati has his workshop. You feed water into a 5 gallon holding tank at the top and it gradually drips down through the material. On a warm day, the water evaporates, cooling the clay and leaving the contents inside relatively cold. Prajapati says the fridge is eight degrees Celsius less warm than room temperature.

“The fridge is not harmful for our health. It’s totally eco-friendly. And there is no maintenance like other refrigerators,” Prajapati points out. It’s also relatively cheap. Models cost about $50.

Read more…

6 Water Organizations Making a Splash (And a Difference)

When summer really heats up, one thing is on everyone’s mind: water. From swimming in pools or the ocean, to sweating (lots), and drinking tons of extra H20, there is no other season where water’s importance feels so obvious.

For those of us who think of water as something that comes cleanly and safely out of the tap, it can be all too easy to take it for granted. Unfortunately today, 1 out 10 people in the world live without access to sanitary drinking water. But there are lots of organizations out there working to change that! Like these great non-profits below. Each of them understands the primal and primary importance water plays in all of our lives, and work to ensure that all people have access to it. Find out more and support their great work!

Charity: Water One of the best known water orgs, the good folks at Charity: Water work to bring clean drinking water to people in developing nations. So far, it has funded more than 6,000 projects in 20 countries worldwide.

Water.org: In 1990, an organization called WaterPartners International began its efforts to bring sanitary, safe water to communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America. In 2009, they merged with H20 Africa (founded by Matt Damon), and continue to work with local partners to make the biggest impact possible.

Miya Water: Founded by Shari Aronson, an Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist, Miya helps ensure the “abundance of fresh water through efficient management of our cities’ existing fresh water resources.” They partner with utility companies to design technological solutions to help up water efficiency.

WaterAid America: This internationally-focused non profit works to improve access to safe water, hygiene, and toilets in the world’s poorest communities. Their current #girlstrong campaign is helping to unlock the potential of 5,000 girls to make a difference.

Water is Life: This organization focuses on providing both clean drinking water and hygiene education programs to schools and villages in need. They also created the Water is Life straw, an ingeniously small and portable drinking straw with a built in filtration system that renders any water it is immersed in clean.

Water Without Borders: This organization was “created from the understanding that lack of safe drinking water is the leading cause of disease, civil strife, hunger, and birth defects in the world.” To date, they have worked with communities in South Dakota, Africa, Haiti, and Honduras to enable the creation of sustainable sources of safe drinking water.

Do you know of another great water organization? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld.