What do people serving in the US military, the homeless community, and cats in Longmont have in common? They were all recipients of acts of Chesed (loving kindness) during Boulder’s Community of Service.
This school year, Jewish supplementary schools from around the county are participating in a Community of Service – simultaneous Tikkun Olam projects under the unifying themes of Chesed (loving kindness) and Gevurah (boundary setting and self-care).
One of the core principals of the community of service is that “participants engage in meaningful, authentic service that addresses genuine and unmet community needs”. This ensures that the service outcomes are valued by those being served. Har HaShem’s fifth grade class, made care packages for soldiers living away from their families, followed this principle by inviting a soldier to their class to find out what a soldier would want in a care package.
B’nai mitzvah students from Nevei Kodesh and fifth graders from Bonai Shalom worked with Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow (BOHO) to identify needs and ways they can help. The students at Nevei Kodesh took the lesson even deeper by discussing the difference between helping someone with a donation and examining the root causes of a problem to work toward a long term solution.
There were so many exciting projects happening this year. The cats residing at the Longmont Humane Society received an unexpected gift of catnip toys lovingly made by the students at the Longmont Hebrew School. The students at the BJCC preschool learned about pe’ah, leaving the corners of your fields available for people in need, while they tended their yearly garden. Teens from Hebrew High are volunteering at the Boulder Homeless Shelter after having attended the Panim El Panim Conference in Washington DC where they meet with members of congress on the issue of homelessness. Students in Beth Ami’s Jewish Cultural School worked with Jewish Family Service to provide hand-tied blankets to seniors and donated food to the Weinberg Pantry after learning about the specific needs in those communities.
Mitzvah Dubi, a stuffed bear, learned about mitzvot alongside the kindergarden and first grade students at Bonai Shalom getting to help with chores, take care of family pets, and making food for those who are sick.
Children who are placed in emergency foster care received a decorated shoebox creatively crafted by Bonai Shalom’s second grade class. The third and fourth grade class at Bonai Shalom learned about Pirke Avot when they collected food for the Community Food Share.
All of the projects will be featured at the Boulder Jewish Festival on June 9th. Festival goers can learn more about these projects from displays housed at each organization’s booth and during a brief presentation on the festival stage just before noon.
The students and their teachers utilized principles from Repair The World, “the leading authority on volunteering and service in and by the American Jewish community”, to organize their projects and optimize the service learning components.
According to Rabbi Will Berkowitz, Senior Vice President for Repair the World, Boulder is one of the first cities to implement a Community of Service using their materials and resources. Berkowitz visited Boulder for the 2012 Chidush Teacher Workshop.