Community service bring students from Hillel in Philadelphia together.
In an effort to unite Jewish college students from three different campuses, Hillel in Philadelphia recently launched a new community service project, JUSTICE.
JUSTICE, which stands for Jewish University Students Together in Community Exchange, brings students from the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and Temple University together to build relationships with each other as well as neighborhood-based community service organizations.
”In Philadelphia there are so many different universities, but the students rarely interact with each other because they think they don’t have anything in common,” says Miriam Steinberg, Hillel’s JUSTICE coordinator. “So we created a program that would bring them together for a common purpose.”
For Daria Auerbach, a Penn senior, JUSTICE was an opportunity for her to “break out of a Penn bubble.”
”I hadn’t really seen Philadelphia and I didn’t really know people [who lived in] Philadelphia,” she says. “JUSTICE was a chance to meet students from other schools who care about the same things I do.”
Once a month the students meet to discuss and reflect on issues of community service and Judaism. At a recent meeting, they reviewed maps of Philadelphia while discussing the history and demographics of some of the different neighborhoods.
In addition, the students meet once a month with residents of the local communities to collaborate on service projects in some of the city’s less fortunate neighborhoods. During one project at a community center, the students set up a computer lab and sorted costumes for the center’s new drill team. Another project had the students collaborating with local school children to pickup trash and paint a playground.
”Interacting with the kids was really interesting,” says Temple sophomore, Samantha Mirkin. “When we were at the playground they told me about the local crime rate. They knew things I didn’t even know in high school.”
The JUSTICE group will continue to meet twice a month for the rest of the spring semester assessing its accomplishments and building sustainable relationships.
“A lasting impact of JUSTICE will be the strength of the three key relationships: the relationships between the students, between Hillel and the neighborhood organizations and especially the relationship amongst the students,” says Steinberg.