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Spotlight On: The Shmita Project

Imagine a world where every 7 years, everything changed – like really, radically changed. For one whole year, business as usual would cease. No one would plant or harvest anything from the land. It would like fallow and rest. All debts between people, meanwhile, would be forgiven and the slates would be wiped clean.

Jewish tradition contains within it this exact scenario: shmita. Literally meaning “release,” shmita arrives in Israel every seven years to ensure that society remains fair and just. Of course, there’s often a big difference between biblical ideals and what happens in real, practical life, so Hazon and the Jewish Farm School came together to create The Shmita Project – an initiative working to “expand awareness about the biblical Sabbatical tradition, and to bring the values of this practice to life today to support healthier, more sustainable Jewish communities.” They are not suggesting that everyone practice shmita down to the letter of the law, but to simply ask – what might being more mindful about the practice do to change my life, and my community, for the better?

The shmita year began on Rosh Hashanah and extends for one full year until next Rosh Hashanah. How might you incorporate some of it’s teachings of sustainability and justice into your daily life? How might letting go – and hitting the metaphorical “reset button – in certain areas help transform things in positive ways?

To learn more, check out Hazon’s shmita educational resources. They have all the info you need to get inspired,, learn about shmita’s relevance to contemporary life, organize a shmita-inspired event in your community, and join a network of people around the country doing the same.

Now’s the time to dig in – find out more on Hazon’s website.

Social Good Monthly Roundup!

In addition to our monthly Newsletter, we are also bringing you a monthly round-up of our favorite programs from our partners and from across the web. The opportunities below are separated by long term (6+ months), short term (6 months or less) and ongoing service, social good, and travel opportunities.

Be sure to check back monthly for updates and new finds!

 

Commit…To Service!     (Long-Term Programs)

You Want To Go To There.      (Short-Term and Travel Opportunities)

Be Social. Do Good.    (Social Good Events and Campaigns)

Repair Inspiration: Al Gore’s Optimistic Outlook on Climate Change

There’s no question that conversations about climate change can get a little depressing. Ok, a LOT depressing. There is plenty of news out there these days about climate change’s effect on the planet, and very little of it is positive.

That is why we were happy to read about Al Gore’s refreshing outlook in a recent Co.Exist article. As the man behind the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Gore knows a thing or two about climate change. And so while he does not paint an overly rosy picture, his words of confidence about the growing movement to stem it’s impacts are heartening.

Check out an excerpt below, and find the whole article over at Co.Exist’s site:

Al Gore’s Climate Change Optimism Will Make You Feel A Little Better About The Future
By: Ariel Schwartz

These days, Gore is hopeful that the world will avoid the worst consequences of climate change, even as reports warn that the world hasn’t made any meaningful progress in slashing carbon emissions.

“I think the momentum is generally shifting,” says Gore. He has great hope that the recent People’s Climate March in New York City, an event held in the run-up to last week’s Climate Summit, will contribute to what he calls “a growing social movement.” He’s also encouraged by the 800-plus investors, including heirs to the Rockefeller family’s oil fortune, who recently engaged in a $50 billion divestment campaign from fossil fuels. The U.N. summit, he notes, “has been a trigger for the largest surge of attention by the media to this topic in several years.”

Aside from being a catalyst for other events, the summit itself ended with some significant pledges in play. China, for example, pledged to make significant emissions cuts by 2020–the country’s first big commitment to reducing CO2 emissions.

When I ask if this is a turning point for China, Gore responds he believes “some turning points are kind of rounded. I think China has been rounding the top of this turning point for a couple years now. Next March, we’ll see the definitive commitments China is prepared to make, but we’ve already seen the introduction of a cap and trade system in five cities and two provinces and a declaration that it will be the beginning of a nationwide cap and trade system.”

For more on Co.Exist, check out Repair the World’s interview with editor Ariel Schwartz.

And check out Repair the World’s photo album from The People’s Climate March!

Jumpstart Shelter Related Projects in Honor of Sukkot

The spirit of Sukkot is in the air. And for those of us who have sat in a sukkah in the last week (a temporary outdoor shelter built during the holiday of Sukkot), the scent of Sukkot – pine boughs or bamboo, gourds and pumpkins, apples and citrusy etrogim – is in the air too.

That’s why in this month’s installment of Repair the World’s ongoing crowdsource funding series, we scouted some shelter-related projects that are currently campaigning for support. They’re all totally different from one another, and all really inspiring. We don’t know the people involved in these projects personally, but we think the work they are doing is worthy of some serious attention. We hope you do too!

Families of Color Seattle This awesome organization is building an intergenerational gathering space for families that perpetuates a culture of inclusivity, community building and play-centered learning. Help them build their Cornerstone Cafe!

Clarity Hamlet Help build an eco-friendly, straw-bale home for Buddhist nuns in California. The project is hoping to fund the creation of three dormitories for the sisters called Clarity Hamlet. Their sustainable cred includes passive solar design, recycled steel roofs, grey water recycling, and straw bale walls made from agricultural waste of from local growers.

Wood and Stone Retreat Help save and refurbish a historic property in Maryland, and reenergize the economy of a town. Two good deeds for the price of one!

Awesome Sukkot Events, 2014

This year, Sukkot begins on Wednesday, October 8, at sundown. It brings with it a focus on harvest, hospitality, the gift of shelter, and an abundance of good food. Meanwhile, when it comes to connecting to social issues like hunger, sustainability, and housing rights, Sukkot is ripe (pun intended!) with possibility.

Each year, congregations and communities around the country find ways to make those connections explicit. Join in the fun by checking out one of these creative and inspiring Sukkot events:

Sharing the Faith – Sukkot
October 10 and 15, Chicago
Join the Niagara Foundation in exploring Sukkot, while offering interfaith educational opportunities. From a Shabbat service, to a conversation about homelessness on Sukkot, it promises to be a worthwhile event.

Eat, Pray, Lulav: A Sukkot Harvest Festival
October 12, Berkeley, CA
Join Urban Adamah for their fourth annual harvest festival complete with opportunities to harvest fall crops, build a cob oven, take a farm tour, and enjoy live music. Bring a canned food item to donate.

Aztec-Jewish Harvest Festival at Proyecto Jardin
October 12, Los Angeles, CA
The congregation IKAR and their urban sustainable garden partner, Proyecto Jardin, are teaming up for a unique, cross-cultural Sukkot event.

Hazon Jewish Food Festival
October 12, Encitas, CA
Spend Sukkot on an honest-to-goodness Jewish ranch, and join nutritionists, chefs, farmers, rabbis, educators, and food enthusiasts in celebration of the values of the Jewish Food Movement.

Sukkot Harvest Celebration
October 14, Boston, MA
Celebrate Sukkot with the Jewish garden, Ganei Beantown, The Riverway Project and the Moishe Kavod House in Temple Israel’s organic vegetable garden and sukkah. Prepare a meal together, learn Torah, and join in an open mic.

Sharsharet Rocks Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Have you noticed an uptick in the amount of pink you’re seeing around? It’s not a coincidence – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! All around the country, people are getting involved – participating in walks, talks, and other events to get the word out about women’s health, and particularly breast health.

High up there among them, is Sharsheret – an organization dedicated to supporting Jewish women who have breast cancer, and also their families, friends, and care givers. Ashkenazi Jewish women are more likely to have the alterations to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which make them more susceptible to eventually getting breast cancer.

Sharsheret works year round to provide resources and loving networks for women facing the challenges of breast cancer. But this month, they and their partners on campuses, synagogues, and in communities are stepping it up even more, with events like Sharsheret Pink Week, Pink Shabbats, and a Rock ‘n Run awareness raising event.

Find out more about all of Sharsheret’s work – during October and throughout the year – at their website.

Repair Inspiration: Two Girls, One Jewish and One Muslim, Share a Stage

It’s Throwback Thursday, and we’ve got a very worthy throwback for you! Last year, two young women got up on stage at the Brave New Voices poetry slam in Washington DC. One, Hannah Halpern, is Jewish. The other, Amina Iro, is Muslim. They were there to co-recite a spoken word poem – one with a powerful message of tolerance, unity, and finding strength within our differences.

BNV is a project of Youth Speaks, a San Francisco-based organization that works to advance the intellectual and artistic development of young people, while amplifying their voices. As you’ll see in the video below, Halpern and Iro’s voices were definitely amplified – and the result is nothing short of amazing.

Interfaith understanding, awesome poetry, and two smart and fabulously talented women sharing their stories – what more could you want? Watch and cheer!

Find out more about the Brave New Voice sslam and Youth Speaks at their website.

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!