On MLK Day, Jewish Young Adults to “Act Now for Racial Justice”

Repair The World volunteers on MLK day. 808 Nostrand aveCrown Heights, Brooklyn NY; photo by Stefano Giovannini.

For the fifth year running, thousands of young adults will address pressing racial justice issues on Martin Luther King Day through Repair the World’s ongoing campaign, “Act Now for Racial Justice.” Along with service experiences in major cities, such as packaging books to send to people who are incarcerated, new resources are available for young adults to engage their neighbors, friends, and family in challenging, meaningful conversation rooted in Jewish values about racial injustice.

“Young adults are passionate and resolute in confronting the racial inequity that continues to devastate lives and communities half a century after we lost Dr. King,” said David Eisner, CEO of Repair the World. “They see the ravaging discrimination that people of color experience on our streets, in our schools, in our workplaces and even in our faith-based organizations, and they recognize it for what it is: systemic racism. They want to act with what Dr. King called, ‘The fierce urgency of now,’ which Repair the World honors with our ongoing call to ‘Act Now.’”

“Young adults also know that addressing issues of race requires personal work dealing with each of our own relationships to race, together with our family, friends, and communities,” Eisner continues.  “And, although we’ve called special attention to this work each MLK Day for five years, we aspire to support young adults in taking action all year, every year.”

To facilitate dialogue that directly addresses racial inequality, Repair offers three discussion guides rooted in Jewish values and three service learning resources that explore how inequities around food and education find roots in systemic racism – all through a Jewish lens. Resources include:

Jewish Perspectives on Racial Justice: Systemic racism is broad, and it also hits uncomfortably close to home in the Jewish community. We must include Jews of Color in addressing these issues as one multiracial, multiethnic Jewish community.

Failing at Literacy: The United States education system was founded during slavery, and continues to stack the deck against non-whites in a way that devastates lives, decimates communities and discriminates, especially against African Americans, even in comparison to white Americans living in our poorest communities.

Food Justice Through Generous Listening: An important element of ending food-related discrimination – supporting “food sovereignty” among communities of color – requires deeper local relationships by organizations and volunteers working to alleviate hunger and make nutritious, affordable, fresh and culturally appropriate food more locally available.

Repair the World has found that connecting urgent needs to address specific issues with special times in the calendar can increase mobilization as people may be looking to connect their celebration of a holiday with what they care about.

“The Calendar-Cause Connection that the call to Act Now and other Repair the World campaigns feature is a nod to how integrated young Jews’ lives are today,” Eisner adds. “As they witness communities and issues they care about being pushed to the side, young adults are finding opportunities in every aspect of their lives to bring those communities and issues back to the center. We see this in their social activities, the meals they share with family and friends, their academic and extracurricular work, their vacations and travel, and more. Many of these activities connect to special times of the year, and Repair the World seeks to make the best opportunities available to them to put social action, through a Jewish lens, at the center of their lives.”

Repair the World anticipates that more than 10,000 people will engage in service experiences organized by individuals and local nonprofits around the country. Hundreds are expected to use the resources and to host meals built around the intersections of food, education, and racial justice from a Jewish framework, providing deeper meaning and impact for all involved. Since research shows that seeing their work bring meaning and having a positive impact are the drivers of future and deeper engagement by young adults, Repair the World’s central efforts and innovations focus on rapidly scaling the availability of meaningful and impactful opportunities to support social change through a Jewish lens.