Tzedek is an integral component of a well-balanced program of Jewish life on campus - think of it as part of your Jewish Recommended Daily Allowance! Incorporating Tzedek into the fabric of campus life can be as easy as having Tzedakah box for loose change everytime you table, or as complex as creating and launching an advocacy campaign. We've collected a sampling of innovative and creative ideas and resources designed to inspire and get the creative juices flowing.
Keep reading, and you'll find:
What does it mean to do tzedek work on campus? First, lets define exactly what tzedek is. This Hebrew word, when translated into English is often defined as justice. But justice alone is not enough. A more accurate term is social justice. What does social justice mean for us? Social justice refers to the recognition of an injustice and the commitment to work to rectify that injustice through action, service, and education within the community and beyond. With this definition in mind, let's bring it back to our campus communities. Today, tzedek programming encompasses many things from volunteering in a soup kitchen, to advocating on behalf of organic farmers, to tutoring a child at a local elementary school. All of these actions are performed with the Jewish conviction that we are especially obligated to contribute to the lives of others and to society.
In our Hillels we can work together with other organizations to advocate, serve, and educate. All of this is done because as Jews we are obligated to do tikkun olam, repairing the world.
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Who's in Your Corner? Spotlight on Partner Organizations [Back to the top]
There are hundreds of organizations dedicated to community building, advocacy, service, and education (CASE - the core components of Tzedek). Here we'll highlight just a few that we work with closely nationally, and who have great campus resources as well. To learn about even more, go to Hillel's Partner Agency guide.
spark: partnership for service
spark is our primary partner in this year's National Alternative Spring Breaks being sponsored by Tzedek Hillel, the Soref Initiative and Kesher. Overall, spark develops resources, curricular materials, trainings and workshops, and programs to enhance and expand high quality Jewish community service and service learning. This spring, spark is piloting the HeartAction program with several Hillels (Metro Detroit, University of Texas, Austin, Muhlenberg College, and University of Colorado, Boulder) to add value to students' service experiences volunteering with the elderly.
Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA)
Hillel's primary partner for the Spitzer Forum, and more importantly, the national policy-making and coordinating body for the Jewish community relations field. JCPA and their local Jewish Community Relations Councils (JCRCs) address a wide range of domestic and international public affairs issues, and work with campus groups on a range of community relations and public policy issues, strategies and advocacy and provide information, materials, speakers, and other resources.
MAZON: a Jewish Response to Hunger
As an organization, MAZON is less than 20 years old, but in that time they have given more than $30,000,000 to food banks and food pantries in inner cities and rural areas; kosher meals-on-wheels programs for homebound elderly people; multi-service centers that provide poor, hungry and homeless families with food, shelter and counseling; and state and national organizations that conduct research and education activities and work for the kind of public policies that can bring about long-term solutions to hunger. Many campuses host a Yom Kippur Fast Action campaign to benefit Mazon and/or hunger-related organizations in your community. This spring, consider a benefit during Passover as well - how about a Chametz for the Hungry program? Mazon also offers a hunger education curriculum called "Hunger No More". Originally designed for synagogues, it can easily be modified for campus use. Lastly, as a recipient of a MAZON grant, Hillel offers Mazon Hunger Grant for programs that address hunger issues on campus.
Click Drives, Rock the Vote, and E-news, Oh My! New ways to Engage....
Click drives - quick, easy, and educational - Click drives are a great way to build awareness of issues and work collectively toward a larger goal.
MTV Rock the Vote
- Poverty Fighters: This Web site works with sponsors to provide micro loans to poor people around the world. The loans enable them to start their own businesses, helping them emerge from poverty.
- The Hunger Site: With just a click of your mouse button you can help feed hungry people all over the world. From the Hunger Site's webpage, you also have access to Web sites for Breast Cancer, Child Health Care, Save the Rainforest, and Animal Rescue. Your click goes toward funding for the respective causes.
- Rock the Votes Community Street Teams welcome any and all young people that have the desire to promote youth participation in the political process. From the Web site, students can register to vote, get a voter registration kit to use on campus, and get up-to-date information and resources about issue oriented news and events.What's on the Hillel Web site?
Funny you should ask! You'll find a wealth of resources by going directly to the Social Justice
tab at www.hillel.org
, or by clicking on the topics below:
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Venture Philanthropy Are you looking for a hands-on opportunity for your students to make a difference? Have you (or your students) heard about giving circles? It doesn't take much money, and what one student brings in, is leveraged with their peers.
A Giving Circle is a group of donors (students) who place their charitable dollars (as little as $5!) into a pooled fund and decide as a group what organization and/or cause to support. Many Giving Circles also encourage their donors to volunteer at the organization they are supporting. A group of 10 students that gives $5 each per month, can give nearly $1000 over the course of the school year! A great Web site for more information is the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.
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Peer to Peer - What's Happening on Campus?
Mt. Holyoke students are bringing tzedek and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) into Shabbat with their Book Swap Shabbat. Prior to services, students will place two books on a table. They will be able to take one book from the collected pile. The remaining books will be donated.
George Washington University Tzedek Advocacy Intern is working on immigrant workers' rights, and specifically, for those on campus. They have held rallies, an program with dining hall workers, parking lot attendants and cosponsored with Jews United for Justice, a civil liberties teach-in, and a rally for parking lot attendants supporting their efforts to unionize. They are also creating a poster campaign that will highlight issues relating to this population. Finally, the intern is partnering with Hillel's Jewish Progressive Political Association to highlight Jewish activists and activism throughout the semester.
The University of Tennessee - Knoxville is organizing a baby shower for a residential treatment program for teenage mothers that have nowhere else to stay. They are helping them by bringing gifts and the types of things they will need for their babies after they are born: diapers, car seats, clothing and blankets. This program is being done in conjunction with Golden Key International Honor Society and is also part of the Knoxville Jewish Community Mitzvah Day.
Hillel of Greater Baltimore partners with their local Jewish Big Brother and Big Sister League to offer students the opportunity to serve as big brothers and sisters with Jewish children from single parent homes. Students commit to spending one Sunday afternoon per month for a year and attend orientation and training sessions. For students and children alike, this program inspires self-esteem, increases Jewish knowledge and serves as a bridge to new relationships within the Jewish community. Through Hillel, students also have the opportunity to work with teens with special needs, and immigrant high school students.
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Award Winning Program Models
Camp Kesem - A Project of Hillel at Stanford
Camp Kesem ("Camp Magic" in Hebrew) is a one-week, overnight summer camp for children who have a parent who has or had cancer. Founded to provide a unique but meaningful avenue to connect the Jewish community, Camp Kesem has grown since its 2000 inception in accomplishments and reputation. The five student committees lead by the Jewish Coordinators, are the backbone of the project and have exceeded beyond initial expectations, as Camp Kesem accentuates the students' identification with Judaism and the Jewish community through providing learning and volunteer opportunities, empowers them to gain substantial leadership and organizational skills, and serves an at-risk and often underserved population of children in need. The Camp Kesem project has touched the lives of countless students, teaching them that a big dream can be a realistic one, and that Jewish identity can be embraced through a social action lens.
Doing Good Well - University of California, Berkeley
Teaching students to think with their heart, work with their hands and vote with their feet, students participating in Doing Good Well were given the funds to finance projects intended to actualize their ideals. Fifteen students were given $180 and told to go out and do something good. This program enabled participants to increase their understanding of the Jewish traditions of tzedakah, tikkun olam and gimilut hasadim, and exposed them to areas of need and social concern in the Jewish and non-Jewish communities in the Berkeley area.
Gators for Israel Bonds - University of Florida
Students at the University of Florida launched a campus-wide advocacy and education campaign to teach the community about Israel, and raise funds toward the purchase of Israel bonds. The bonds would then be donated to the University of Florida Foundation, and designated for the benefit of the Center for Jewish Studies to endow a professor of Israeli Studies. The campaign involved multiple events on campus, including speakers, letter writing campaigns, mock Israeli elections and educational seminars.
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Alternative Breaks, Conferences, Grants
Alternative Spring Breaks (ASB)
ASBs are a great way to build community on your campus, provide students with new entry points to Jewish life on campus, engage new students, and help a community in need.
Alternative Spring Break Resources
Other resources are available from the American Jewish World Service (international programs) and Break Away (training and planning).
Spitzer Forum on Public Policy
Hillel's premier public policy conference will take place Feb. 22-24 in Boston, MA. Your students will get trained by some of the best social justice professionals in the country, network with their peers, volunteer in the Boston community, and work with Jewish Community Relations professionals from their local community. The registration deadline has passed, but there are still a few spaces left (and scholarship money!). If you have students who are interested in joining us in Boston - call Michelle Lackie at 202-449-6595 and fax a registration form in as soon as possible.
Program Grants - It doesn't always take a lot of money to make a strong impact, but there are grants available to make it easier. Weinberg Tzedek Hillel offers Digital Divide grants, and Mazon Hunger grants. Tzedek programs also are eligible to apply for Hillel's Student Initiative Committee grants and the Grinspoon Quick-Turn-Around grants.
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Tzedek and Israel - There is a Connection!
Vertigo Dance Company - Vertigo is a distinctive dance company based in Jerusalem, and performing all over the world. Their performances are unique in how they welcome and incorporate dancers with diverse physical abilities. Vertigo uses a form of dance know as "contact dancing" as a means to connect people to each other, regardless of their ability.
King David Stables - The wonderful people at King David Stables use horses and ponies as a means of therapy for children and adults, as well as victims of terror. They use horses as an effective tool in three areas of therapy, including physical, psychological, and recreational. While on the student Tzedek Mission to Israel, Hillel formally donated two ponies to the program named "Hillel" and "birthright".