The Jewish High Holidays are traditionally a time of introspection and self-reflection.
Now, one organization is helping Jews — secular and religious alike — take the transformative energy of the high holidays to celebrate the season in a new way.
“Instead of turning inward, we’re asking folks to turn outwards – to take their values and passions and DO SOMETHING,” Mordy Walfish, Vice President for Program at Repair the World explained about their ‘A Different Kind of High Holiday Service’ campaign. ” In addition to serving God (for those who are into that!) we’re inviting folks to serve their communities.”
To help people get involved, Repair the World works with dedicated volunteers and a team of Repair the World Fellows to help create hands-on service projects that encourages individuals to learn more about the needs of others.
Last week, for example, a group from San Mateo, California gathered to package food gift boxes for the needy in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, one of a number of projects happening around the country during this holiday season.
For those eager to turn their holiday table into more than a place for chit-chat, Repair the World also provides materials to help educate yourself on food justice and then share it with your family and friends over a holiday or shabbat meal.
Walfish explained that the High Holidays are the perfect time to focus on food justice learning and service projects because while the Jewish community is gathering at food-laden tables, many all around are going without.
“Food is central to the High Holiday season,” Walfish said. “On Rosh Hashanah, many families gather together for bountiful meals, while others – in the Jewish community and beyond – struggle to make ends meet.”
In addition, he noted that while those who fast may feel hungry on Yom Kippur, for most the pangs are just temporary and a plentiful break-fast awaits. However, ” for others [living with food insecurity] the pangs of hunger are a daily experience.”
The Repair the World leader also stressed that while the focus of the service and learning may be outward, those that give back to the community ultimately also transform themselves in the process.
“Service is a concrete way to make an impact and opens people up to understanding the experience of others,” he said, encouraging the Jewish community to take time out this High Holiday season to do do service in new way.