Jewish Life Update, Week 6: Organizing for Social Justice

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Why teach seventh graders about community organizing? As our Ofarim campers have learned about and participated in the steps of the community organizing process, they have also learned strategies for tackling big problems in their own lives. As a group we identified an issue fit for community organizing (with broad and deep support on which we can make a difference), did research to further understand the problem, strategized through power analysis, and figured out who would build our base of allies. In a world of hashtags and tweets, campers have seen that issues have many sides and a history of challenges and adaptations. They have learned to put their needs second and think more broadly about how to make a positive difference for the whole community. And they have seen that someone they might have at first perceived as part of the problem may actually be a valuable ally in finding a mutually acceptable solution. It has also become clear that progress on big issues can be slow and to appreciate small steps in the right direction. Here are some of our campers’ words:

“We started with a specific complaint, and through discussion came to the actual problem and possible solutions.” –Ben Yankauer


“Instead of going head-on into the problem, I learned the steps to think about it and make it easier on myself to fix the problem.” –Caroline Korman

This week we also had the awesome opportunity to participate in an actual community organizing effort. Our visiting faculty Rabbi Rachel Timoner offered an intention on a conference call that involved approximately 50 representatives from Jewish social justice organizations coordinated by Bend the Arc to help make the world a better place. As Rabbi Timoner offered inspiring words, our campers faces in the background inspired Jewish leaders to fight for a better future.