no_webTikkun Olam is always in fashion in the Jewish world. Sometimes it is even more in vogue – this is one of those times.

Earlier this week at the JFN Conference, Mark Charendoff said that 1/3 of philanthropic gifts should go to service programs. The same day, a group of foundations jointly announced plans to establish a new organization aimed at creating a Jewish social service movement. And last week, 600 young Jewish professionals participated in the UJC/Federation National Young Leadership Conference in New Orleans – which had a Tikkun Olam focus as its core.

These young professionals worked turning an abandoned parochial school into a community center in one of the areas hardest hit during Hurricane Katrina. Despite the rain and soggy conditions at the project site, the conference participants were busy painting murals, building a remote control car track, landscaping, building picnic tables and benches and more.

The volunteers came away from the day-long project and the conference – which also included seminars on Jewish volunteerism – motivated to get more deeply involved in community building back home.

Speaking to the participants at the closing plenary, Conference co-chair Katie Applefeld of Baltimore said, “One thing we clearly demonstrated here is the power of the collective. Each of you made an impact, whether you wielded a shovel, a drill, or a paintbrush; but how much could you accomplish by yourselves? Working with your group, you completed a project. All of us together made significant progress.”

The power of the collective; whether in Tikkun Olam or Jewish social entrepreneurship, these five words are turning into the real buzzwords for 2009.

BTW, the local ABC news affiliate in New Orleans devoted an entire feature to this volunteer effort.

image: Habitus: A Diaspora Journal – New Orleans issue