Repair the World aiming for 5,000 acts of service with Passover Earth Day Challenge

The social justice nonprofit hopes to leverage social media and Gen Z's interest in the environment for its 10-day program, which ends with Earth Day and the Passover Seder

To mark this year’s convergence of Earth Day and the start of Passover, the social justice nonprofit Repair the World is launching a Passover Earth Day Challenge for the week and a half leading up to April 22.

Beginning on Saturday and concluding with the Passover Seder, participants are tasked with performing easy acts of service based on modern-day environmental plagues including water pollution, “fast fashion,” deforestation and energy consumption.

“There’s a beauty that so much of the Jewish calendar is both based on the environment and agriculture,” Eli Greenstein Jacober, senior director of growth strategy for Repair the World, told eJewish Philanthropy. The challenge is aimed at social media savvy 18- to 25-year-old Americans who may not have witnessed the sea part or locusts rain down, but can be engaged in the holiday by incorporating their passions. “Climate change is a huge cause for Gen Z and for young adults across the country right now,” Greenstein Jacober said.

Daily challenges include donating clothing, planting a tree, carpooling, biking, unplugging from technology and cutting food waste. No one can solve these problems in a day, but we have to do something, Greenstein Jacober said, quoting the ancient Jewish sage, Rabbi Tarfon: “You are not required to finish the work, yet neither are you permitted to desist from it.” 

A digital workbook was created for the initiative, including environmental facts and prompts for journaling. Participants have the opportunity to win gift cards and sustainable-use care packages when they post about their acts of service to Instagram and TikTok. Additionally, popular Jewish influencers, including Raven Schwam-Curtis, will hold their own version of the challenge, spotlighting followers based on their involvement.

As a way to increase their reach, Repair the World is also teaming with Jewish Service Alliance partners including the AEPi fraternity and Moishe House. They created a custom AEPi workbook with curated challenges and prizes including AEPi swag. 

“This year especially, our undergraduate members are looking for ways to do good things in their communities and on their campuses,” Jonathan Pierce, media spokesperson for AEPi, told eJP. “To do something positive in light of all the negativity about Jewish communities, about Jews, about Israel.”

Even though many undergraduates will be busy studying for finals, the acts of service are easy to fit into their days, said Pierce. Such initiatives also give AEPi members opportunities to partner with allies based on shared interests of helping the environment. “We are teaching Jewish values to our undergraduates, and they’re leading by example on their campuses.”

The challenge overlaps with Global Volunteer Month, and Repair the World was chosen as a Global Volunteer Month Program Partner by Points of Light, a Georgia-based nonprofit that promotes volunteerism.

“We share the belief that service and volunteerism can tackle society’s greatest challenges and build stronger communities,” Kristin Whitaker, senior vice president of marketing and communications for Points of Light, told eJP about the partnership. 

Individual AEPi houses, Moishe Houses and other organizations are planning separate events based around the challenge such as cleaning trash from their local rivers and parks. Repair the World hopes that challenge participants will also get involved with their local community’s Earth Day initiatives and that acts of service can become part of their annual Passover traditions.

Greenstein Jacober said that while the challenge is focused on climate change, this kind of environmental activism has a direct impact on other social justice issues that Repair the World and young Jews care about. “Without access to food because of climate change, we aren’t able to feed our communities. When storms get severe, we don’t have secure housing,” Greenstein Jacober said. “That also causes issues when we aren’t able to access our schools and provide education. There’s so much intersection that goes back to the environment.”